- Main lore areas
The whole prefecture
- Main ingredients used
Smelt, lotus root, vinegar, carrots, onions
- History/origin/related events
“Suzuke (pickling in vinegar) of Japanese smelt and lotus root” is made with Japanese smelt and lotus root, which are local specialties of Kasumigaura, the second largest lake in Japan. Blessed with an abundance of water and fertile wetlands, the Kasumigaura area has been cultivated for more than 40 years and is now known as the leading producer of lotus root in Japan. Lotus root can be delivered throughout the year, but those harvested in summer are crisp and fresh, while those harvested in winter have a chunky texture, and you can enjoy a different taste depending on the time of harvest. Until around 1965, traditional smelt fishing in Kasumigaura had been carried out with sailing seine boats, which was a method unique to Kasumigaura. It is characterized by the boats' huge white sails, and the fishermen use the wind force to pull the seine. The sight of dozens of sailing boats with white sails floating on the lake was a famous feature of Kasumigaura. However, because fishing was not possible when there was no wind, and because the sails were so large that there was a high risk of capsizing when agitated by gusts of wind, fishing is now done by mechanical trawlers. In recent years, there has been an issue of declining catches due to overfishing. Smelt is popular with many people because its bones are soft and it can be eaten whole, making it easy to prepare.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Wakasagi fishing takes place from late July to late December. Wakasagi caught during this season are immediately landed by local processors and shipped to the market as fresh fish. Since lotus root is also harvested during the summer and winter, "wakasagi and lotus root in vinegar" is often made during this season. Because it is seasoned with vinegar, it keeps well for a long time, and is still eaten daily.
- How to eat
Remove scales from wakasagi, wash in salted water, drain, dust with potato starch, and deep fry in oil. Cut the lotus root into thin slices and marinate in sweet vinegar with the freshly fried wakasagi. Let sit for a while and eat when the flavors are well blended. The ama-zu vinegar can be made by adding yuzu peel or other ingredients to give it a fresh flavor.
Nowadays, it is often eaten as "nanbanzuke" using nanbanzu (sweet vinegar, soy sauce, and chili pepper).
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
Even today, it is often made at home because the ingredients are readily available at supermarkets.