Goldmine of Food! 5 Must-Try Local Dishes in Nature-Rich Shikoku Region
Shikoku is surrounded by seas on all sides and filled with grand mountain ranges. Blessed with bountiful ingredients, this area has gained fame as a treasure trove of exquisite dishes. Here are five recommended dishes that you have to try when you visit Shikoku.
Sanuki udon, characterized by the firm and chewy texture of the noodles, is a type of udon (thick wheat noodles) from Kagawa. There are many shops dedicated to this kind of udon in Kagawa, and in recent years, the region has witnessed a boom in eating tours wherein diners go around a number of restaurants. The shops have various unique traits, with some shops adopting a self-service style, while other shops setting up a dining space next to a noodle factory. There are also many different ways to eat the noodles.
For instance, the noodles can come as Kake Udon that is eaten by pouring hot dashi (soup stock) over boiled noodles, Kamaage Udon that is made by taking out the boiled noodles from the pot and then putting them straight into the dipping sauce without immersing them in water, and Kamatama Udon wherein the boiled noodles are removed from the pot and then mixed with raw egg and a strong sauce or soy sauce while they are hot. Many shops offer a wide selection of toppings, too, so try to find your preferred way of eating udon.
The next must-try specialty is Uwajima taimeshi (rice with minced sea bream), a local dish that has been passed on to Uwajima in the Nanyo area of Ehime. With this dish, the meat of fresh sea bream is cut into thin slices, soaked in a seasoned sauce made from soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice liquor for cooking), dashi and white sesame seeds, mixed with beaten egg, and then poured on top of piping hot rice. After that, it is sprinkled with the peel of the Ehime specialty mikan (orange) or yuzu (citrus), and chopped nori (dried edible seaweed).
Many regions call the dish in which sea bream meat is cooked together with the dashi and other ingredients as taimeshi, but Uwajima is the only place in Japan where this dish uses fresh sea bream. So, you have to try the taimeshi in Uwajima.
Next on the list is a local dish of Ehime, jakoten. It is made by mincing fresh small fish (the young of horse mackerel, etc.) caught in Uwa Sea, including the skin and bones, and then the resulting fish paste is formed into oval patties and fried in oil. This dish is characterized by fish patties that are fried as is, without batter coating similar to the batter often used when cooking tempura.
Jakoten’s appeal lies in its robust taste that comes from the condensed flavors of fish, and the rich variety of nutrients found inside it, such as calcium, DHA and EPA. There are many ways to enjoy eating this dish: as is, grilled and served with grated radish on the side, or as an udon topping.
Katsuo no tataki (seared bonito) is the representative local specialty of Kochi. It is made by searing the surface of the meat of fresh katsuo (bonito) and then slicing the fish. What is unique about this dish is the way it is seared, as it is grilled in a pretty exciting way – over the fire from a burning bundle of straw. The surface of the meat is the only part that is cooked, so the surface smells so good while the inside remains juicy. The best condiments for this dish are a lot of garlic and spring onions. It is recommended that you eat seared bonito with soy sauce-based sauce with a hint of vinegar, or by simply putting salt on it.
The last must-try dish from Shikoku region is Tokushima ramen, a local gourmet food in Tokushima. This ramen is characterized by its dark brown soup with pork bones and other ingredients as base and then flavored with soy sauce and other condiments, along with its topping of salty-sweet boiled pork and raw egg. With its rich taste, it is also perfect when eaten with a bowl of white rice.
Now depending on the shops, there are places in Tokushima where this ramen comes with clear soup, and places that serve it with smooth and sweet tasting tonkotsu soup (made from pork belly and bones, and other ingredients). It could be fun to try and compare the ramen in different shops.
You can find the specialty dishes presented here at restaurants around the major stations (for instance, Takamatsu Station, Dogo Onsen Station, Harimayabashi Station and Tokushima Station) and tourist destinations in each region, as well as at shops inside airports, among other places.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.