- Main lore areas
- Main ingredients used
- History/origin/related events
"Hoonko” is an annual major event of the Jodo Shinshu sects of Buddhism, in honor of the anniversary of the passing of its founder, Shinran Shonin. It is celebrated between autumn and the new year, either on the 28th day of the 11th month of the lunar calendar or January 16th of the Gregorian calendar. In Fukui, this holiday known as “Honkosan” or “Okosama.” Simmered Taro is one the Buddhist vegetarian dishes served to the people who gathered for this holiday.
The Okuetsu region is located in the northeastern part of Fukui Prefecture, and is known for its heavy snowfall, surrounded by tall mountains including the sacred Mount Hakusan
This region benefits from abundant water resources from the mountains, fertile soil, and significant temperature variations between day and night, all of which create favorable conditions for cultivating Japanese taro. Japanese taro grown in this region are known for its fine-grained texture, soft yet firm consistency, and excellent flavor. The "Kamisho Satoimo" in particular has even been registered as a Geographical Indication (GI) product.
Japanese taro is harvested in autumn and is a valuable food source during the winter. This dish is not only served during the “Hoonko,” but is also enjoyed at celebratory occasions as a lucky item to ensure the prosperity of one’s descendants. In Fukui Prefecture, taro is often sold in supermarkets with its skin partially peeled. The key to making delicious simmered taro lies in preparing it with some of the skin left on.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
The peak season for harvesting taro is in November. In recent times, it is often frozen to be enjoyed throughout the year.
- How to eat
The skin of the taro is scraped off. The taro are then simmered in soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and other seasonings. A thick consistency is achieved by not pre-boiling the taro. To create a visually appealing dish, it important not to disturb the taro too much while simmering to keep its shape intact. Shake the pot gently to prevent sticking and burning, and continue simmering until the liquid reduces. Once it cools down, douse the taro again with the cooking liquid. When using frozen taro, add the frozen taro directly to the simmering liquid.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
This dish is not only served at the “Hoonko” festival and celebratory occasions, but is also commonly prepared in households. Additionally, it is frequently available in the deli sections of supermarkets. Pre-cooked versions are vacuum-sealed and sold through online retailers as well.