Braised Oki Arame
- Main lore areas
- Main ingredients used
Oki arame, carrots, fried tofu, etc.
- History/origin/related events
Surrounded by the sea, Oki Islands is home to a wide variety of seaweed, such as wakame and nori. There are extensive seaweed beds within a range of depths from 0 to 20 meters, where seaweed can be harvested. The rough seas of the Sea of Japan provide delicious seaweed. At depths from 0 to 10 meters, seaweed beds of sargasso such as narasamo and isomoku, and the seaweed ebiamamo are formed. At depths from 10 to 20 meters, there are few species of seaweed, mainly kurome and nokogirimoku. Arame (Eisenia bicyclis), a specialty of Oki Island, grows in shallow water at depths from 2 to 3 meters and in ports. The uneven and rough ("arai" in Japanese) surface is believed to be the source of the name. Local people have long been familiar with this seaweed, which is rich in minerals and a blessing from the sea, and around springtime, dishes that use arame are on every household's table. Especially “Braised Oki Arame” is a familiar dish to the locals. Manpowered arame fishing is still practiced today, with fishermen wearing "Hako megane (box glasses)" made of glass set into wooden frames and using long sickles to harvest the arame in the sea. The arame is dried in the sun and then soaked in seawater to remove the astringency. It is then cooked over a fire and finally dried again.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Caught in Oki, arame is soft and wide, and is now eaten throughout the year because the shoots are harvested from February through spring and dried and preserved. It is often used in simmered or dressed dishes, as it has a crunchiness not found in other seaweeds. In addition to "Oki arame-no fry-simmered", which can be easily prepared, it is also eaten daily at home as tofu paste, salad, cooked rice, and kakiage.
- How to eat
Soak dried arame in water for about 2 hours to gradually regain its elasticity. After soaking in water, stir-fry arame in a pot or pan with carrots and chopped deep-fried tofu, and finish by boiling in dashi broth. Arame is easily cooked, so do not overcook it. Stir-frying in oil softens the fibers and enhances the flavor.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
Even today, it is eaten daily at home. It is also served as a school lunch menu at elementary schools in Oki Island, and is also incorporated into local salons and men's cooking classes.
Although the harvest has been declining in recent years, the arame fishing scene is still a winter tradition.