- Main lore areas
Western part of the prefecture
- Main ingredients used
Salmon, soybeans, radishes, fried tofu, carrots, sake lees
- History/origin/related events
“Shimotsukare” is a local cuisine in the western part of Ibaraki that consists of leftover New Year's salmon heads, leftover beans from Setsubun (February 3), and root vegetables cooked in sake lees. Making full use of the leftovers from the New Year, this dish is filled with the wisdom of our forerunners, which is excellent in terms of nutrition and preservation during the winter months. In some areas it is also known as "Sumitukare”. “Shimotsukare” is also made in parts of Tochigi, Saitama and Chiba prefectures. Since its history is very old, there are many theories as to the origin of the name, as it is described in such tales as "Uji Shui Monogatari" (collection of medieval Japanese tales) written in the Kamakura period (1185 - 1333). There is a theory that it was called "Shimotsukare" because of the family tradition of Shimotsuke-no-kuni (present day Tochigi Prefecture), and another theory says that it was because of the way it was made, namely, “Sumituke” (pickled in vinegar). The dish is made in large quantities in a large pot, and each family has its own flavor. It was customary to distribute the leftover "Shimotsukare" to the neighbors, and it was said that eating the amount of "Shimotsukare" for seven families would prevent you from getting sick.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
It is a dish often made on the first horse day of February, and in the old days it was considered an abomination to make it on any other day. The "shimotsukare" made on the first horse day is placed in a new straw wrapper and offered to Inari-san together with "sekihan" (red rice). The custom was to pray for fire and family safety. The head of a salmon is believed to drive away bad things, and since Setsubun beans also mean "destroy evil spirits," "shimotsukare" was eaten as a good-luck talisman.
- How to eat
Daikon radish, carrots, and fried tofu cut into strips are coarsely grated with a bamboo grater with a sharp blade called "Oni Oroshi," and then simmered with soybeans and salmon heads in sake lees and soup stock. The oni grater is made of bamboo, which makes it difficult for heat to be transferred to the ingredients. Furthermore, the vegetables are grated more coarsely than ordinary grated daikon, so that excess water is not released and the texture of the vegetables can be felt firmly when eating. If you do not have a salmon head, you can use salmon fillets.
It can be eaten in a variety of ways, such as over rice or as a snack for tea. In some areas, frozen "shimotsukare" is enjoyed as a snack with hot sake while sitting in a kotatsu (a Japanese low table with a kotatsu over the fireplace).
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
The unique flavor and appearance of this local delicacy can divide tastes, but it is carefully prepared to minimize the fishy smell and make it easier to eat. Even today, there are areas where "shimotsukare" is exchanged among neighbors.