- Main lore areas
Hitoyoshi/Kuma area, Yatsushiro area
- Main ingredients used
- History/origin/related events
The Kuma River, Kumamoto's largest first-class river, runs through the Hitoyoshi Basin, flows through the Yatsushiro Plain, and empties into the Yatsushiro Sea. It has long been known as a source of ayu because of its rapid current, which is one of the three most rapid rivers in Japan, and the quality of its water, which is said to be clear. The reason for this is that the ayu's body is trained by the fierce current, and the clear water allows sunlight to reach the bottom of the river, which provides an abundance of algae as food. The Kawabe River, a tributary of the Midorigawa River, is especially famous for catching large ayu, called shaku-ayu, which are about 30 cm in length. The town of Kosa, through which the Midorigawa River flows, is home to fish weirs, and restaurants serving ayu dishes are also popular. The town is a treasure trove of ayu, and there are a variety of specialties such as grilled ayu and ayu sushi, but grilled ayu is a winter preserve unique to the area. After being skewered and roasted over a charcoal fire to a golden brown, it was dried in a drying kiln and used as a soup stock for New Year's zoni or takikomi-gohan (rice cooked in a pot). Another preserved winter food is nandoro-ni (sweetened soy sauce stew), which is made by slowly simmering grilled ayu in a sweet soy sauce sauce for a long time. Finally, syrup is added to give the fish a nice shine. The ayu is edible down to the bones, and the meat is plump. Ayu with eggs are also a delicacy during this season.
However, the catch of ayu, which used to be abundant until the mid-Showa period, has been decreasing in the Kuma River and its estuary. The Kuma River Fisheries Cooperative Association has been working to protect the ayu resource by, for example, scooping up young ayu at weirs along the way and releasing them into the entire basin, because dams and multiple weirs prevent them from migrating upstream.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Yaki-ayu," or roasting ayu over a charcoal fire, is a popular autumn event. Natsuni made from grilled ayu is served as a side dish every day.
- How to eat
Serve the whole ayu on a slice. It can also be served cold.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
(Outline of the people who have passed down the tradition, preservation groups, use of SNS, modern efforts such as commercialization, etc.)
The "nattoroni" is a specialty of JR Yatsushiro Station, and is served on top of rice cooked in broth made from grilled ayu (sweetfish).