Ishikawa Prefecture

In a land of incredible ritual and custom for our fourth edition in Japan, the chefs were able to witness the survival of ancient traditions in today’s modern times. Respect for ingredients, for materials, for craftsmanship infused through the entire experience. Each chef partnered with a local artisan from the area’s most-respected crafts school to design the plate upon which their finished dish was served. Each chef used a different material and each artist had his or her own unique style. The results—artistic, culinary, and collaborative—were breathtaking.

The program
The ingredients
Kamo no Jibuni (Duck prepared in Kaga-style)

Ingredients:dashi, sake, mirin, shoyu, sugar, duck breast, flour, seasonal vegetables, wasabi
One of the Ishikawa’s signature dishes, jibuni, is a meal made with duck (birds in olden days) and seasonal vegetables. Thinly sliced duck meat is coated with a protective layer of flour, and cooked together with namafu (fresh flour gluten) and seasonal vegetables such as shiitake mushrooms and seri (cicely) in a stock of dashi, shoyu, mirin, sugar, and sake. The broth is thickened with flour, and the duck is served with wasabi on top.
The uniqueness of this dish lies in its cooking method that the duck slices are coated with flour and then simmered. In this way, flour- thickened broth puts a flavor in without overcooking the meat. This method of cooking cannot be found in other part of Japan.
Jibuni is said to be a European cooking which was introduced by TAKAYAMA Ukon, Christian daimyo and a close associate of the Maeda clan, during his stay in Kaga domain. There are several explanations regarding the origin of its name jibuni. Some say that it was named after OKABE Jibuuemon, Provisions Magistrate under TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi, who introduced this dish from Korea. Others say that jibuni makes a “jibujibu” sound while cooked. Yet others say that the name derived from French word “gibiers”, since jibuni uses duck and flour.

Kaburazushi (Traditional fermented food made from turnip and yellowtail)

Kaburazushi originated in Ishikawa prefecture. Salted turnip and salted yellowtail are sandwiched together and pickled in malted rice with thin strips of carrots and dried kelp. It features a unique savour of lactic acid. Kaburazushi is a delicacy of winter time, when the catch of yellowtail is at the peak. It is also a very popular New Year dish. In the past, fish dealers made kaburazushi as aNew Year gift for their regular customers. It is believed that those in high places ate kaburazushi while commoners ate daikonzushi (Japanese white radish) .
There are various explanations as to the origin of kaburazushi. One of them is that each household presented its family dish of yellowtail sandwiched between sliced turnips and then fermented with malted rice in order to determine the most tasty one. They were made as a feast for the New Year’s ritual to pray for a good catch and safe journeys on the ocean. Another story is that kaburazushi was served to Kaga lord Maeda when he visited Fukaya for hot spring cure.

Tai no karamushi (Steamed sea bream with vegetables)

Tai no karamushi is one of the local specialties in Kanazawa. Two sea breams are stuffed with okara (soy pulp) and placed on a large plate. This is a very auspicious dish served on the occasion of wedding, and they are sometimes called “nirami-dai” (staring sea breams) and “turukame-dai” (crane and tortoise sea breams). It is a regional tradition for a bride to bring sea breams with her as a part of her marital package and for a bridegroom family to cook them for the wedding guests.
Okara with such vegetables as ginkgo nuts, lily bulbs, hempseeds, cloud ear fungus, carrots, and lotus roots are stuffed in a sea bream with the hope of being blessed with good children. A male and a female sea breams are placed abdominal to abdominal. They are split open along the back instead of the abdominal. This is because opening from the abdominal side is associated with “seppuku” (suicide by disembowelment), and the method employed was strongly influenced by samurai culture of Kaga clan.
It is said that a student from Kaga domain to Nagasaki introduced to his region the recipe of “tai no kenchin-mushi” (steamed tofu cake with vegetables wrapped sea bream) in Chinese style.

Ishiru no Kaiyaki – (Seafood and vegetables cooked in the shell of a scallop, seasoned with ishiru)

Ishiru is a seasoning sauce made from sardines and squid, naturally fermented. Ishiru fish sauce has been made in the various regions on the Noto Peninsula since olden times, and is sometimes called “ishiri” instead of “ishiru.”
For “ishiru no kaiyaki,” the large shell of a scallop is used as a pan to cook seafood and vegetables. Seasonal ingredients, such as daikon (Japanese white radish), naganegi onions, mushrooms, kaiwarena (Japanese radish sprout), wild vegetables, squid, and prawns, are cooked in seaweed and bonito dashi (broth) with ishiru. “Ishiru no kaiyaki” is one of the local delights of Noto area using abundant variety of local food from the ocean and the mountain.

Photographs: Erik Olsson

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