Epicurean Japan

beefWhile many people think of Japanese cuisine as merely “the big three”: sushi, tempura, teriyaki; there is so much more. Seasonal and regional varieties abound. Across Japan people know: when visiting Tottori, try the pears; when visiting Kagoshima, try the black pork; when visiting Nagano, try the apples and the blueberries; etc. Every prefecture has its own specialty worth tasting.

miyazaki beefEach prefecture also has at least one or two different brands of beef. While we simply think of “wagyu” or “Kobe”, there are close to 150 different brands across Japan. In the Kansai area alone there is Kobe, Ohmi, Tajima, Tango, Tanba, Sanda and Sangyu. Each one is marbled, soft, and addictive-ly juicy. Here are a few unique brands to watch for…and taste:

ishi beefIshigaki beef is a relative newcomer on the beef scene. Raised on the southern island of Ishigaki in Okinawa, these cattle graze on ocean-sprayed grass. Salt water, minerals and sunshine contribute to an out-of-this-world succulence.
Watch Ishigaki beef being cooked teppanyaki-style in this DINE “Sound Bite“.

waka beefWakayama is the mystical land of the Kumano Kodo in which spiritual pilgrimage is made by “forest bathing” through the “divine trees” of the Kii mountains. The hot springs in this area are ancient. Dig a pit in the Kawayu river, and hot sulfuric water bubbles up.  The local cattle drink this water, and the meat is cooked in it too, enabling a softer texture and sweeter essence. Sliced delectably thin this beef is like silk.

matsuMatsuzaka beef rivals Kobe beef in its fame (and price) across Japan. Great care is taken to raise these virgin cows to qualify for the richest most marbled beef, with the most luxuriously tender, juicy and robust texture and taste in the world. There are many stories about the posh breeding of these cows. (watch for more detail on Matsuzaka beef in DINE 2013)

When visiting Japan, be sure to sample the local specialties, and do not leave without tasting the beef.

For more information go to: ilovejapan.ca

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