- Main lore areas
Central area of the prefecture
- Main ingredients used
Lotus root, burdock, carrot, shirataki noodles, dried shiitake mushrooms, fried tofu
- History/origin/related events
Ibaraki Prefecture has one of the largest areas of arable land in Japan and harvests a large number of vegetables such as lotus roots, burdock roots and green onions throughout the year. Particularly in the lakeside area of Kasumigaura, the cultivation of lotus root is flourishing, and the amount of lotus root planted and produced is the largest in Japan. In Ibaraki Prefecture, a vegetable kingdom, local cuisine using local vegetables is still deeply rooted, and one of the dishes is "Niai". “Niai” is a local cuisine of the Shimoichi region located in the eastern part of Mito City. It has a long history and is made of lotus root, burdock root and other ingredients that are specialties of Ibaraki Prefecture. There are many theories as to the origin of the name, but it is said that the name “Niai” came from two words “Niru” (boil) and "Aeru” (toss). It was served as a dish for entertaining people in areas where there were many "Koyasukou" (an association held on the 19th of each month to pray to “Koyasugami”, a god of fertility, childbirth and childrearing for the safe delivery of a child). “Niai” is a dish that is not sold at the supermarket, but is mainly made at home. The cooking method is quite simple, but differences in ingredients and seasoning appear in different families.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
It is made with many locally available ingredients such as burdock root and spinach. Originally, it was a local delicacy for New Year's holidays and celebrations in the Mito area, and was an essential part of the celebrations. Because it is seasoned with vinegar, it keeps well for a long time and is eaten on a daily basis. It is also served at weddings and funerals, and during Buddhist ceremonies, it is made into a white dish without carrots.
- How to eat
Stir-fry spinach cut into chunks, shredded carrots, burdock root, fried tofu, etc. Once cooked, season with broth, soy sauce, etc., and finally pour vinegar over the top and simmer. The special feature of this dish is that it is cooked using only the seasonings and the water content of the vegetables. The flavor of the broth and the refreshing taste of the vinegar is good, and it is eaten with a sprinkling of white sesame seeds, if desired.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
It is served in school lunches at elementary schools in Ibaraki Prefecture.
source : Kazue Nakagawa, Nakagawa Gakuen Culinary Arts College