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Okinawan cuisine

About Okinawan cuisine

Okinawa is the subtropical islands between mainland of Japan and Taiwan.
It had been a country until early 17th century, so it has a unique culture.

The ingredients of Okinawan cuisine are also somewhat different from the mainland of Japan, because Okinawa has warm climate and own history.

Unique vegetables are used, but kinds of mushroom are used little.

Though the islands are surrounded by sea, there are little dish of fish.
Instead of fish, pork is used much.

Few spices and condiment are used despite subtropical area.

Seaweeds are often used.
Not only the seaweeds in the close sea but also Konbu from Hokkaido far from Okinawa is the very important ingredient.
This is the historical remain of the trading between Okinawa and Japan in the Medieval Ages.

The cooking method is mainly stewing, frying and deep-frying.

The cuisine has evolved in modern times, especially because of the American military presence in Okinawa since the end of World War II (1945).

As above, Okinawan cuisine is different from the cuisine of mainland of Japan.
If you visit Okinawa, you will mainly eat such unique Okinawa cuisine.

Dishes using pork

Dishes using pork are important Okinawan cuisine.

All parts of a pig are used for them.
Except flavor of spices, Okinawan dishes of pork may be almost same as Taiwan cuisine.

However, it is generally made by stewing for a long time and removing surplus fat.
So it is not so greasy as you think.


Rafutee is a boiled pork dish, and it is the dish of thick cubes of pork belly stewed in a shoyu, dashi, sugar and awamori-based mixture. (Awamori is a distilled alcohol.)

It is the most famous Okinawan pork dish, and is served at the meat of new year or Buddhist service in Okinawa.


Sooki is a boiled pork spare ribs with the cartilage still attached.
It is stewed in a shoyu, dashi, sugar and awamori-based mixture like rafutee.




Tebichi is a boiled hands of pig.
It is stewed in a shoyu, dashi, sugar and awamori-based mixture like rafutee.

Tibichi contains much collagen, so they say that it is good for health.


Mimigaa is a boiled ear skin of pig.
It is served after cutting into strips.

It is crunchy and it also conrains much collagen.




Nakamijiru is a clear guts soup.
"Nakami" means guts of pig, and "jiru(shiru)" means soup.

It is made by boiling guts cut in rectangles, making clear hot soup with dashi and a little shoyu, and adding guts, shiitake mushroom and konnyaku to the soup.

Generally before eating, grated ginger is added.


Suuchikaa is made by rubbing salt on the block of raw pork and standing for several days.
After that, it is boiled for over an hour and it becomes edible Suuchikaa.



Vegetable and tofu dishes

Fried or stewed many vegetables are most popular dishes in Okinawa.

Unique vegetables in Okinawa are used, and harder tofu than mainland is also used.


Chanpuru is the most popular fried dish that some kind of vegetables and hard tofu are mixed.
Pork is often added.

Especially, the chanpuru using bitter gourd (It is called as"goya" in Okinawa) is well-known.


Nbushii is also basically fried dish.
Generally juicy vegetable are used, and miso are added.

Nbushii using loofah (called "naabeeraa" in Okinawa) is popular.
(Loofah becomes a vegetable sponge.)




Irichii is also fried dish.

Some vegetables, konbu or pork are mixed and fried.
Then dashi and shoyu are added, and are boiled for a while.


Umi-budo is a species of green algae and its stem has a lot of grains like green beads.
From the shape, it is called "sea grapes" or "green caviar" in English.

It is a popular food in Okinawa and is eaten raw.


Umi-budo (Sea grapes)

Other popular Okinawan dishes

Okinawa soba

Okinawa soba is the noodle of Okinawa.

It is named "soba", but it is different from one of mainland.
The noodle is rather similar to "udon", and how to make it is similar to Chinese noodle.

It is made by boiling the noodle and putting into hot soup flavored with dashi and pork.

Standard toppings are sliced kamaboko (fish cake), chopped green onion.
And usually beni-shoga are added.

In addition, Sooki is often topped on the noodle.
So, it is called Sooki soba.

Taco rice

Taco rice is the dish that taco, which is a traditional Mexican dish, is served on a bed of rice.

Genarally ground meat, lettuce, tomato, cucumber or cheese are added.

In the 1980s, it is invented by a restaurant near the U.S. Marine Corps stationed at Camp Hansen in Okinawa.

Sooki soba

Taco rice

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