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Discover Culinary Treasures in Okinawa, Japan

September 27, 2019 Visit North Asia No Comments Email Email

There’s a lot more to Okinawa than its pristine beaches and relaxed seaside atmosphere. With Japan fast becoming a food-lover’s heaven, Okinawa is a note-worthy mention when it comes to distinct cuisines and flavours. Complete with its own tropical climate which produces a very different mix of vegetables from mainland Japan, and a strong influence from China, the food in Okinawa has something to please everyone!

Eat a little something from The Fountain of Youth

Okinawa’s reputation for being an island of superfoods is no surprise given Okinawans are famed for their longevity. A testament to this is the word ‘kusuimum’ which refers to medicinal foods in local Okinawan language. One such food is Goya (bitter-melon), which is a staple of Okinawa cooking, and used in the staple Okinawan dish, Goya Champuru. This is a local specialty that consists of sliced goya stir-fried with pork, tofu, and eggs. While this dish has recently become common in mainland Japan, it’ll be tastiest on the islands it originated from!

Enjoy your mainland favourites, Okinawa style!

For those who want to try something closer to the well-known, typical Japanese foods, the sokisoba is a great ‘in-between’. It’s an Okinawan take on soba noodles, made from wheat which creates a chewy texture. The noodles are topped with soft boiled pork which are packed with flavour and melt in your mouth, complemented with spring onions and pickled ginger. Variations of this dish exist, such as some made from a lighter bonito broth. Either way, this is the perfect salty dish to tuck into after a long day at the beach!

Try sweet potato everything

Being an island of colorful fruits and vegetables, it would be strange not to mention the sweet potato. Sweet potatoes, more commonly known as Beni-imo, are known for their rich purple colour and sweetness. Given its universal popularity on the island, Beni-imo is incorporated into a number of dishes, ranging from savory tempura to sweets such as tarts and ice cream. It would definitely be an interesting food adventure to try all the various forms and flavours of sweet potatoes in Okinawa.

Wash it down with the good stuff

Finally, the drinks that can be paired with these dishes. For those craving a fresh drink after a day at the beach, Shikuwasa juice is the answer to your prayers. Another nutrient packed superfood, shikuwasa is a citrus fruit, somewhere in between a lemon and a tangerine. Native to Okinawa, it is touted by locals for providing fatigue relief and is sure to please anyone on a hot summer day. On the other end of the spectrum is Awamori, a sprit unique to Okinawa, often with an alcohol content of 25% to 40%. What makes Awamori different from other rice-liquors in Japan is the type of rice used and the production process. It is a spirit made from Thai rice as well as black koji and uses a special distillation and fermentation method to create a rich flavor. Moreover, when Awamori is aged for three years or more, it is referred to as ‘kusu’ which is unique to the Okinawan language. These varieties can be aged from anywhere between three years to several decades, and take on sweet, mellow flavours that are best enjoyed straight. If ever in Okinawa, it’s definitely worth pairing with some of the traditional meals mentioned above to really enjoy the full island experience.

Take something to share with friends and family back home

The pristine oceans that surround Okinawa no doubt have a significant influence on the eating habits of the people, particularly when it comes to their love of sweets. Chinsuko  cookies are the most delightful melt-in-your-mouth snack. have a warm, buttery texture that crumbles in your mouth, and come in a variety of flavours such as sea salt or Beni-imo. This is definitely a must-try for any Okinawa island-hopper, and for some, will even become a staple Okinawan souvenir to take home for friends and family to enjoy!

Okinawan Hanami Night in Sydney on 26 September 2019

For those in Sydney who are interested in trying some of Okinawan foods, the Okinawa Industry Promotion Public Corporation and Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau

has collaborated with Gold Class Daruma, for Okinawa Hanami Night. Guests will be treated with a 6-course menu of Okinawa-inspired dishes to celebrate the onset of spring. Tickets and further information can be found at:

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