Nagano Prefecture, which is famous for its ski resorts, also has wonderful gourmet food. So this time, we introduce five tasty items that are perfect to take home as gifts. The selection includes a wide variety, such as regional dishes, local sake, and a sweet made with local produce.
Nozawana-zuke is widely popular as a dish from Nagano Prefecture. Nozawana is a vegetable that is grown in the prefecture and is said to become softer and tastier as the weather turns cold and the water temperature drops. Nozawana-zuke is nozawana pickled in salt, and can also include ingredients such as chili pepper, kombu seaweed, dried sardines, persimmon skin and even sake. The flavor and texture differ by the duration of pickling, and "asazuke" is pickled for 2 - 3 days, giving it a crunchy texture. The asazuke also has a bright green color and the natural flavors of the vegetable comes through. In contrast, the "furuzuke", which has been pickled till it turns an amber color, is characterized by a sourness that is produced as a result of fermentation. Its appeal is the complex and rich flavors.
2. Yawataya Isogoro's Shichimi
Yawataya Isogoro has its main store in front of the gate of Zenko-ji Temple, one of Nagano's most famous tourist attractions. It began by selling its shichimi blend of seven spices on the temple grounds more than 270 years ago. Shichimi (400 JPY (incl. tax) for a 14g can), which has been its signature product since the time of establishment, is a blend of chili pepper, shiro-hajikami (ginger), shiso, sansho pepper, sun-dried tangerine peel, sesame and hemp seed. It is prepared using an original recipe, and has fans around the country for the spicy and aromatic flavors. The paper bags with wood block prints and the cans with drawings of a large chili pepper are distinctive.
Oyaki has long been enjoyed as an everyday snack and meal. It is a regional dish of filling wrapped in a batter, made either with wheat flour or buckwheat flour, and steamed or fried. Because Nagano is cold and has many mountains, wheat and buckwheat were produced instead of rice, and cherished as food that can be preserved for the winter months, resulting in the development of oyaki. The filling differs by family and region, with some common ones being nozawana, mushrooms and sweet bean paste. The oyaki purchased as gifts to take home can be warmed up in an oven toaster, frying pan, steamer or microwave.
4. Local Sake
Nagano, which is blessed with clear water that flows from the mountains and clean air, is suited for making Japanese sake. So why not take home some tasty local sake that has been nurtured by the cool summers and harsh, snowy winters? The prefecture has the second most sake breweries in the country and produces a range of sake. There is a wide variety including fruity ones, ones with dry, sharp flavors, and even sparkling sake, so look for the one that suits your tastes.
5. Chikuma Seika's Marugoto Ringo Pie
Chikuma Seika's Marugoto Ringo Pie (864 JPY (incl. tax)) made with apples, which is a Nagano specialty, is also recommended. It is a stunning sweet containing a whole apple that has been marinated in honey. However, it still retains the apple's juiciness and crunchy texture. The apple is cored, and castella sponge cake stuffed in the middle. It is then wrapped in pie crust and slowly baked. The result is a well-balanced flavor, full of juices from the fruit, and the combination of the sweet apple and the aromatic pie crust is truly exquisite.
These items can all be purchased at souvenir stores in major stations and airports in the prefecture. Get them as gifts or for yourself so that you can enjoy the flavors of Nagano at home.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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