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Image Source : Food and Flower Promotion Division, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department, Niigata City
- Main lore areas
Nagaoka City (Chuetsu Region)
- Main ingredients used
Glutinous rice, kidney beans, soy sauce
- History/origin/related events
Shoyu Okowa" is a local dish of Nagaoka City that is colored with soy sauce. It is a local dish characterized by the inclusion of fluffy cooked kidney beans. It is not red like ordinary sekihan, but brown because it is colored with soy sauce. It is eaten only in Nagaoka City and its vicinity, and for those who grew up in this area, sekihan has been flavored with soy sauce since childhood. It is also called "shoyu sekihan" or "Nagaoka sekihan." Nagaoka is the only place in Niigata Prefecture where sekihan is made from rice flavored with soy sauce. It is often included as a wedding gift.
There are various theories about the origin of sekihan, including that it dates back to the Edo period, but there are no reliable references yet. The former sumo wrestler who received permission from the lord to make soy sauce and miso gave the soy sauce to the temple in front of his store, and the wrestler offered rice seasoned with soy sauce to his congregation.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
While nationwide sekihan is eaten when there is a celebration, in Nagaoka, sekihan is eaten not only for celebrations and other occasions, but also as an everyday food. Some supermarkets display sekihan in the deli section all year round, especially during the year-end and New Year's holidays, the Obon season, and when there is an event in the town. In the Nishikaga area, there is also a snack called "okowa dango," which is a sweet dumpling wrapped in "soy sauce okowa," and has been a popular snack for farmers for many years.
- How to eat
Mix steamed glutinous rice with soy sauce and mirin (sweet cooking sake), top with kintoki-mame (red kidney beans) cooked in soy sauce and mirin, and steam again. When steamed, place in a bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds. The seasoning varies from household to household and from store to store, and sometimes sugar or sake is used instead of mirin.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
It is still made daily by ordinary households. It is sold in the deli section of supermarkets, and many long-established Japanese confectionary and rice cake stores are particular about the ingredients they use, and some even ship it regionally.