In our previous posts, we covered the regional cuisines of Hokkaido, Tohoku, Chubu and Kansai and now we move into the Shikoku area, the smallest and least populous of the four main islands of Japan.
The name Shikoku means “four provinces” and includes Ehime, Kochi, Tokushima and Kagawa. The region is most famous for its 88 temple pilgrimage, Japan’s most famous pilgrimage route and Awa Odori, a dance festival which takes place in Tokushima Prefecture during Obon (Augist 12-15th). Awa Odori is the largest dance festival in Japan drawing over 1.3 million visitors annually.
If you are interested in visiting the region to take part in one of these events, be sure to sample the Udon that it is famous for. Udon is a thick wheat flour noodle often served hot in a mildly flavored soup. The simplest form is known as kake udon featuring a broth known as kakejiru, consisting of dashi (soup stock), shoyu (soy sauce) and mirin (a type of rice wine similar to sake but with a lower alcohol content). The most common form of dashi or soup stock used in Japan is derived from boiling kombu (kelp) and kezurikatsuo (shavings of katsuobushi – preserved skipjack tuna) then straining the resultant liquid. Kake udon is often served with thinly chopped scallions and can include other toppings such as tempura (prawn), kakiage (mixed tempura fritter) or aburage (deep fried tofu seasoned with sugar, mirin and shoyu).
Another type of udon dish is known as Sanuki Udon which is produced in Kagawa Prefecture, previously known as Sanuki Province. This type of udon noodle is characterized by its square shape and flat edges.
In the Kochi Prefecture, you will find that Katsuo no tataki is very popular. This dish involves skipjack tuna or Katsuo that is finely chopped and mixed with spring onion and rice vinegar. Outside the Kochi area, the fish is sliced and seared. Another regional item you will find in the Kochi area is Sawachi Ryori, sashimi or sushi served on a huge plate called sawachi.
Finally, in the Tokushima area, you will find that Sudachi is quite common. This is a small citrus fruit similar to a lime that is grated and added to dishes to give them a distinctive taste known throughout Tokushima during the summer months.
So that covers it for the Shikoku region. Stay tuned as we introduce you to the regional dishes of the Kyushu and Okinawa regions next!