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No.176 (11/26/10)

Local Gourmet and Culture/ Oma Blue Fin Tuna & Ominato Kaigun Korokke

By Keiko H. Johnson
Staff Writer

In October, an event at Oma town, celebrating the beginning of the winter tuna-fishing season, attracted visitors from all over Japan. The giant blue fin tuna was presented, dissected, and sold by pieces at the sight. During the tuna dissecting show, those spell bounded by the taste of the king of the fish congregated at the tuna tasting counter with the aspiration for the mouth drooling dark red meat.

The traditional way of fishing method: The Ipponzuri: single hook hand fishing is used in Oma to catch the giant Pacific Blue fin tuna. The large torpedo shaped fish, which weighs 110lb or more, pulls and turns at the tip of the line connected to the fisherman’s two hands, tries for freedom. This type of battle does not occur every time they send the boat out to the sea, but it certainly strikes the fisherman once the giant blue fin swallows the live bait of mackels', sardines' and other small fishes.

The fight between a blue fin tuna and a fisherman at Oma town reminded me of what Hemingway once described in one of his novels. The battle between a man and a lion of the sea is a reality of risking lives. Hoping to catch the blue fin, the fishermen at Oma town sail out to the dark winter ocean on the small fishing boat despite the harsh winter climate.

The Pacific blue fin tuna caught during the winter at Tusgaru streit Shimokita peninsula, at the northern most point of Honshu island of Japan, are particularly valuable because of their meat being so rich in fat and that the most valuable part on the fish: Toro quality and the medium Toro quality from the fish, even improves in its value. The lesser the total amount of catch during the winter also increase its value of the fish.

Such reputation and its association with high quality and the most expensive tuna, the Oma city had become well known as the best tuna catching ground in Japan. The rich dark red meat of pacific blue fin is the king of the fish and has been loved by the nation for decades and dealt the high-ends of Sushi restaurants in Japan.

The blue fins in Oma can be said as one of the key cultures to Japanese. Japanese love the blue fin tuna that the sushi restaurants cannot operate without this large torpedo like shaped fish that are called black diamond by the nation.

Ominato Kaigun Korokke / Deep fried mashed potato with meat
Recently, the Japanese navy brand food items are growing its popularity. A few years ago, the Sasebo Burger from Sasebo base in Japan became popular as the biggest and the most luxurious burger in the nation. Kaigun brand products has been one of the popular food items in the nation.

Kaigun means Navy in Japanese. The Japanese navy brand: Kaigun products found at the stores here in Misawa are frozen Yokosuka Kaigun dry curry and Sasebo Burger. Other products sold at the other parts of Japan are the Sasebo beef stew, and the kaigun nikujyaga (cooked meat and potatoes).

On March 10, the Ominato Kaigun korokke was introduced on one of the TV shows, broadcasted by Nippon Televesion Production. The product is originated in Mutsu city in Aomori, where old Japanese Navy set their base on the shore of Ominato port. The products are made with a mixture of five ingredients. Each of them made with fish, potato, egg, beef, and Minced meat.

The original recipe was said to be created by the Japanese navy chef a few years ago, according to the Sankei News paper published on July 16, 2008. The products were served at the cafeteria for the Japanese navy personnel on duty, yet, the recipe was revised and improved to fit the tongue of people in the community and sold.

The product has become popular since the gourmet show had delivered the story on TV in March. The closest location where you can purchase this product is at the vender at Michino Eki Oirase by Oirase Brewery. The vendor sits in front of the entrance door to the grocery store.

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