- Main lore areas
Northern part of the prefecture (coastal area), Nobeoka City
- Main ingredients used
- History/origin/related events
small fish, 5-15 cm in length, caught off the coast of Nobeoka City in the Hyuga Sea at a depth of around 300 m. They are called "mehikari" because of their large, sparkling blue eyes. Its Japanese name is "aome-eso.
In the past, it was treated as a small fish that could be caught in deep-sea shrimp trawl nets, and was used as a meal for fishermen and as bait for aquaculture. In an effort to promote the light white flesh and fluffy texture of mehikari, a Japanese restaurant in Nobeoka City developed and served the dish after repeated trial and error, and it was introduced in the mass media and came into the limelight.
Mexicali is not indigenous to Miyazaki; it is often caught off the coast of Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture and has become a specialty of Onahama Port. In 1747, the ninth generation of the Naito family was transferred from the Banjohira domain to the Nobeoka domain, and in 1997, Nobeoka City and Iwaki City became brother cities, which is said to have influenced the custom of eating mehikari in both regions.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Fishing is prohibited during the spawning season from May to June, but except during the closed season, Mexicali can be landed almost all year round. The peak season is from July to August, which also coincides with the lifting of the ban, so local residents of Nobeoka City look forward to the lifting of the ban.
- How to eat
Cut off the head, remove the entrails and scales, rinse with water and drain. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, dust with flour or potato starch, and deep fry in oil heated to 180℃. Since the bones of the fish are soft to begin with, when deep-fried, the fish can be eaten whole without worrying about the bones, and is a welcome accompaniment to alcoholic beverages. In addition to karaage, it is also served as nanbanzuke, tempura, or grilled with salt, and especially fresh ones are eaten as sashimi.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
(Overview of the people who have passed down the tradition, preservation groups, use of SNS, and modern efforts such as commercialization, etc.)
In Nobeoka City, mehikari is used in school lunches and is very popular among children. In an effort to make "mehikari" a local specialty of the prefecture, processed products such as mirin (sweet sake) dried rice and tsukudani (sweetened soybean paste) are being developed.