Kochi is a region that is filled with many delicious dishes, having secured the top spot six times in eight years for having the highest number of delicious dishes in the country based on a survey conducted by a major magazine in Japan. Below are five foods that you must try when you visit Kochi!
1. Katsuo no Tataki (Seared Bonito)
Seared only its skin, bonito is sliced into fillets and served with plenty of garlic, ooba leaves and onions, usually with a helping of yuzu ponzu sause. Shio tataki, which is a version that is eaten with coarse salt, has been growing in popularity in recent years.
The bonito found in Kochi is so delicious that you will be surprised by how different it tastes compared to others. The secret behind this is the overflowing love that people in Kochi have for bonito. After all, you can’t serve bonito fans bad bonito! This is why people say that the bonito in Kochi is always perfect.
The diverse ways that people in Kochi eat bonito are a part of their culture. It is recommended to try tosamaki – it contains Katsuo no Tataki, raw garlic and ooba leaves.
2. Tosa Akaushi
Called “maboroshi no wagyu” (rare Japanese beef), Tosa Akage-gyu (or Tosa Akaushi, which is Tosa red beef) is a regional specialty that is an improved version of Kochi beef. Mainly bred in mountainous regions, only around 700 heads of Tosa Akaushi cattle are shipped annually, and the beef is only available in Kochi.
The deliciousness of the Tosa Akaushi comes from the excellent balance of lean meat and fat. The lean meat that is packed with flavor and the perfect amount of fat makes this beef healthy and juicy at the same time.
You can eat this beef in a simple way, such as using salt and then grilling it (yakiniku) or turning it into steak. However, turning the thigh meat into roast beef maximizes the tastiness of the red meat, making it taste superb. Its moderate amount of fat also makes it good for stews.
The immensely fragrant and refreshingly tasty yuzu (Japanese citrus) is a fruit that has been highly regarded by top chefs and popular pastry chefs in Europe as of late. Kochi was the first area in Japan to export whole pieces of yuzu, boasting the largest share in the yuzu market worldwide today.
People in Kochi love the highly aromatic yunosu (yuzu vinegar). They put yuzu on fish, tofu, and other ingredients, use it to flavor their dishes, turn its flesh into desserts and sweets, make yuzu tea from its rind, and use its seeds for face lotion. Nothing is thrown away!
In particular, the colorful inaka sushi (country-side sushi) that uses sushi rice made with yunosu and has konjac, bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, ginger, and other mountain bounties as toppings, is an exquisite dish that is a sight to behold. It also tastes like heaven!
With about 84% of the prefecture’s area covered in forest, Kochi is known for having the largest proportion of forest in Japan. Niyodo River, where mineral-rich water from the mountains flow, has won the distinction of having the highest water quality in Japan for five consecutive years, while Shimanto River is a clear stream that boasts of a rich ecosystem.
There are various kinds seafood that can be caught in these streams, such as ayu (sweetfish), kawa-ebi (river shrimp), and gori (freshwater goby). Out of all them, it is the unagi (eel) that you have to taste. The natural unagi, of which there are a limited number in Japan, are still alive in the rivers of Kochi, and are still delicious when eaten. It need not be said that farmed unagis that have been bred using the clean river water in Kochi have soft flesh with fat that tastes so good that they even draw in people from outside of Kochi!
5. Imo Kempi
Imo kempi is a simple sweet that is made by frying sweet potatoes until they are crispy, and then coating them in sugar syrup. A traditional snack in Kochi that people find addicting once they take a bite, this sweet is offered by virtually all recommended sweet potato sweets manufacturers.
The shio kempi that has salt added to the sugar syrup has also increasingly become popular, as it exquisitely fuses the sweetness with a mild salty taste. If you come to Kochi, make sure to try it!
Comment from Kochi Prefecture
Kochi is located south of Shikoku region, and it is characterized by its lush forests and blue ocean. It has a rich and varied landscape that is in harmony with the blessed lush nature.
*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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