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Image Source : Shimane Prefecture Dietary Improvement Promotion Council
Image provided by : Shimane Prefecture Dietary Education Website "The transmission of local and home cooking in the seven regions of Shimane Prefecture (Junior College of Shimane Prefectural University)
- Main lore areas
Iwami area (Hamada City, Masuda City, etc.)
- Main ingredients used
Whale skin, rice, radish, burdock root, shiitake mushrooms, etc.
- History/origin/related events
Hamada City and Masuda City are located in the western part of Shimane Prefecture, facing the Sea of Japan. Iwami Sanda, which includes both cities and Ota, is the main city of the Iwami region. Both cities have thriving fishing industries. Hamada City has grown as a core fishing ground in the San'in region since the end of World War II, increasing its production through offshore trawl and purse seine fisheries. At its peak in 1990, the city landed approximately 200,000 tons of fish. Masuda City promotes a "cultivate and nurture" fishing industry. The city of Masuda promotes a "create and nurture" fishery, releasing abalone fry and flatfish fry and focusing on their cultivation.
Whale rice, rice cooked with whale skin, has long been eaten in both cities. It was eaten on Setsubun day to pray that children would "become a big fish in the future," in honor of the giant whale.
In the early Showa period (1926-1989), in this snowy region, households would buy large quantities of whale skin and pickle it in salt. This shows that the culture of eating whale was deeply rooted in the region.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Whale is a local dish that appears on family tables in winter. It is eaten on Setsubun in the hope that the fish will become as big as a whale. The day following Setsubun falls on Risshun (first day of spring), but the whale oil warms the body during this still cold season.
- How to eat
Whale, also known as "gibier of the sea" or "marine beef," is highly nutritious and rich in flavor. The "tail meat" is like marbled meat, the "red meat" of the back and belly is soft and unctuous, and the "skin" of the fatty layer is eaten as a delicacy. Because of its high oil content, it is used in various dishes such as rice cooked with rice, sukiyaki style with winter vegetables ("heka" in the Iwami region), and with vinegared miso dressing after the oil has been thoroughly drained. When removing the oil, thinly sliced whale is dipped in boiling water to remove the oil, but the important point is to turn off the heat.
The first step in cooking whale rice is to pour boiling water over the skin of the whale to remove excess oil. Once the oil is removed, the chopped whale is stir-fried with daikon radish, gobo (burdock root), shiitake mushrooms, etc., and seasoned with soy sauce. Mix this with freshly cooked rice and it is ready to serve. In addition to mixing them in, you can also cook the whale with various vegetables and rice. When cooking frozen whale at home, it is best to thaw it naturally in a refrigerated room. Since it cooks quickly, be careful not to overcook it.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
When the season is near, whale is sold at fresh fish corners of supermarkets and direct sales stores. In addition, as part of dietary education, whale appears at educational institutions as part of hands-on training in making local cuisine.