Photo: Kurozu farm in Fukuyama, Kagoshima. Clay pots contain Kurozu vinegar inside.
In a follow up to last article on agriculture in Kagoshima, I’ll introduce some of the dishes that make Kagoshima such a wonderful gourmet prefecture.
Kurozu is an amber rice vinegar only grown in the Fukuyama area of Kagoshima. Once aged, this vinegar provides a very rich flavor without being too strong. The vinegar contains various amino acids and peptides, which have been proven in many research studies to have great health benefits. Kurozu is often in a variety of Kagoshima dishes to enrich the flavor while offering many health benefits. It is also often diluted into drinks such as juices for a healthy breakfast drink
Kurobuta Shabu Shabu
While shabu shabu is a beef dish in most areas of Japan, in Kagoshima, it is served with pork. Not just any pork, either. Locally grown Kurobuta pork, which is often considered to be the top pork in Japan, makes this dish a must try when visiting Kagoshima. The meat is sure to melt in your month and the dipping soup is made with katsuo dashi produced in the fishing town on Makurazaki in southern Kagoshima.
Another kurobuta dish, the tonkatsu (pork cutlet) of Kagoshima is absolutely mouthwatering, as the meat is tender and full of flavorful juices. As with shabu shabu, the locally grown kurobuta pork is what separates Kagoshima tonkatsu from other tonkatsu offered throughout Japan.
Satsuma-jiru is Kagoshima’s soup of choice. It is a variation of miso soup, but includes many more vegetables, as well as chicken. It is similar to tonjiru pork soup, but made with chicken instead of pork. You will sure to be asking for seconds when you finish your bowl.
A tonkotsu (pork) ramen with large straight noodles. Kagoshima ramen differs from other tonkotsu ramen, though. The noodles are often served softer and the soup is only slightly cloudy with a milder taste. However, local shops all offer their own variation which can include very thick and strong pork soup. Kagoshima Ramen is distinct, because it is said to be the only pork ramen not based on the original tonkotsu ramen of Kurume.
I had to include the famous dessert of Kagoshima. Shirokuma shaved iced is a mountain of shaved iced topped with syrup and/or condensed milk and a variety of fruits and other toppings. The name literally means “white bear (polar bear)” because when you look at the dessert from the top, you can see a bear face. There are many varieties of this dessert including basic, mango, matcha green tea, kokuto (brown sugar), and more.
Keihan, literally meaning chicken rice, is a local dish from the Amami Islands. It is made by adding chicken, rice, and a variety of local ingredients into a chicken soup broth. There are a variety of restaurants that offer keihan on the mainland of Kagoshima if you don’t have time to visit the islands.
These are just a few of the many local dishes that can be found throughout Kagoshima. It is a good start for someone planning a trip to Kagoshima.
Author: Kagoshima Cameron