- Main lore areas
- Main ingredients used
Herring, radish, cabbage, carrots, red pepper
- History/origin/related events
“Nishin Zuke” (pickled herring) is a local dish that conveys the history of the herring industry in Hokkaido. From the late Edo period (around 1750) to the Meiji period (1868 - 1912), the herring fishery in Hokkaido, especially on the Sea of Japan side, was at the height of its prosperity. In spring, when large schools of herring come to the coast to spawn (which is called “Kuki”), the sea is often seen to be dyed white. The catch of herring reached its peak in the Meiji period, and at one time there were nearly one million tons of herring caught, but from around 1960, the herring population declined rapidly and the catch of herring was almost non-existent. At present, the herring, which are established in and around lakes and marshes such as Akkeshiko (Lake Akkeshi), are often caught, but the catches are nowhere near as large as they were in their heyday. “Nishin Zuke” is a local dish that has been made in households since the days when fishing for herring was at its peak. In those days, storing food to get through the cold winter was important, and pickles were used as one way to preserve it. It was made by marinating dried herring and vegetables together before winter arrives, which became known as "Nishin Zuke". The catch of herring has decreased, but it is still a winter family dish in Hokkaido.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
Herring caught in the spring were dried and preserved as kipper, and in late fall they were pickled with vegetables and eaten in the winter. When herring were in abundant supply, every household used to make this dish.
- How to eat
Soak kipper in water with dissolved wood ash or rice water for 1 to 2 days. After that, rinse thoroughly, remove the scales, cut into 4 to 5 cm lengths, and marinate with cabbage, radish, carrots, etc. in rice malt and salt. The salt content is not so strong, and the use of rice malt to marinate the herring for a long period of time allows fermentation to progress, giving it a mellow taste and increasing the flavor and aroma of the herring.
Daikon radish should be dried until supple, cabbage cut into chunks, and carrots cut into strips and added. Some families add bell peppers cut into strips. In a container for pickles, alternately layer rice malt, salt, herring, and vegetables, and place a weight on top of the container. The ingredients may be mixed and pickled from the beginning.
In the past, it was stored outdoors because the taste changes more quickly if it is kept in a warm place. In winter, when the temperature drops below freezing, the water in the vegetables freezes, giving it a crunchy texture. Today, many households store them in refrigerators.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
Although the number of households making pickled herring has declined, it is still readily available at supermarkets and other outlets, and is still eaten throughout Hokkaido. The Rumoi region, which once thrived on herring fishing, has excellent techniques for processing herring by chopping them up, and these techniques are still passed down today.