Saturday, February 16, 2008

Shimotsukare

I like Japanese food and am proud to say that I can eat almost anything that is served to me. (Now Japanese friends, don't take that as a challenge to see what is the grossest thing we can get Tanya to eat!) I consider it a feather in my cap that I can even eat (and enjoy!) Shimotsukare which is a specialty of Tochigi prefecture where I live.


Let me tell you! There are not too many people outside of Tochigi that will eat this (Tetsu absolutely shudders at the thought!) and I don't think there are all that many Tochigi citizens that think too highly of it either! I was listening to a radio program that was interviewing Tochigi citizens to see what they thought of Shimotsukare and most of the people said they wouldn't touch the stuff with a ten foot pole!


So what is Shimotsukare? It is a winter dish made only in Tochigi out of grated Japanese radish, grated carrots, smashed soybeans, minced deep fried tofu skins, left-over pulp from rice osake and a very large salmon head. Bones, brains, eyes and all! All the ingredients are boiled down and smashed together so you don't really know that you are eating any of these odd things and it is served cold. Although not many people like it, everyone agrees that it is very healthy for you but who wants to be healthy when they are gagging? Another reason why people shy away from Shimotsukare is that it looks like, how shall I put this delicately, "spit-up". One look and more gag.


I really do like Shimotsukare and when my friend Mrs. Yano brought over a huge tupperware, I accepted just half since I knew Tetsu wouldn't even want it in the refridgerator. I ate it all before he came home that night. BUT, I don't like it enough to want to learn how to make Shimotsukare. I think watching a fish head disintegrate into it might make me side with the anti-Shimotsukare people. My policy is "eat and enjoy and don't think about it."


Here is a small picture of Mrs. Yano's Shimotsukare. I considered taking pictures of all the split fish heads that are sold in the supermarket at this time of year for Shimotsukare but that would really get all of my blog friends gagging so I decided to spare you.

9 comments:

Quilt Pixie said...

sounds OK to me, not great, but OK, until you get to the COLD part -- and the idea of those things cold leave me cold!

Yolanda said...

This is very interesting . I am so glad to have found your blog.

anne bebbington said...

Mmm - makes me appreciate my cornflakes this morning - mind you my reaction was mild amusement when I read this - on the other hand my DH almost brought back his breakfast! I have to say it's obviously one of those dishes that you're better off not knowing what went into it. It reminded me of a time when we were living in France. I spied something unusual and unidentifiable in the supermarket chiller cabinet - on investigating closer I realised I'd hit that moment where you actually shouldn't move any nearer but can't stop yourself. In a prewrapped polystyrene tray sat three rabbits heads - skinned but still with glazed eyes and teeth intact. As you can imagine they didn't find their way into my trolley. When questioning an anglo/french couple at church that weekend the English wife expressed surprise that they were selling the heads on their own. However her husband was unsurprised and explained that as a boy growing up in the Ardennes region of France on the Belgian border his family had always had a rabbit shot by his father for the Sunday lunch. His mother's portion was the head and he explained that there were certain delights like the brain and the tongue along with two beautiful tender muscles attached to the jaw which were so succulent because the rabbit chewed a great deal of grass - the head was considered a great delicacy and his mother's treat (poor woman!) - as this point I changed the subject!!!

andsewitis Holly said...

You lost me at "salmon head" ew! The rest didn't sound bad. You are a brave woman :)

Marilyn R said...

You lost me too at the mention of the salmon head, and then again when you talked about how it is eaten cold. I'm so glad you were able to enjoy it without the making of it!

DomesticShorthair said...

Wow, that's really something! I'll try many things, but that would be a stretch for me.

meggie said...

I think I would be willing to try it, but not if I knew the detailed contents! I do like salmon though, so perhaps it tastes of fish?

Fuji Mama said...

Now I know what to try when I make it out to Tochigi prefecture! I recently tried a couple of dishes from Nagano, now that was an interesting experience! (http://lafujimama.blogspot.com/2008/02/what-is-food-to-one-is-to-others-bitter.html)

The Calico Quilter said...

You're right, I wouldn't want to see the fish heads! The strangest thing I saw at a meat counter was a whole hog head, sitting on a styrofoam tray, shrink-wrapped! I know some people eat brains, and some people in the South make souse with the head (oh, my - no), but it was disturbing.