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Okinawa

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Food
(kwatchi)
 

It is a recorded fact that the Okinawans Rank #1 in the world for the longevity of both men and women, and is among the top prefecture among the Japanese.  Health experts have linked their healthy diet, in addition to the mild climate and less stressful society to this phenomenon (Okinawan 81).
 
Tofu and vegetables is a mainstay ingredient of the Okinawan diet.  Pork is also commonly used.  Okinawa is considered to be the top pork producer and consumer in all of Japan.  Although pork is fatty, the Okinawans prepare it in such efficient ways, such as boiling it prior to cooking so that it "enhances health, rather than destroying it" (Okinawan 81).
 
There are three forms of Okinawan cooking: the food of the farmers, Naha cooking and Shuri court cookery.  Farmers ate simple meals, usually sweet potato, and other vegetables that they cropped.  Naha, which is the largest urban center as well as a port town, viewed cooking as an art form that was one step below the Shuri court cookery, Okinawa's ancient capital.  Shuri court cookery originated through Okinawa and China's diplomatic relations.  As a means to impress and entertain the "Chinese investiture mission" the government of Ryukyu sent professional chefs to China to specifically master Chinese cooking.  In the 1600's, Ryukyu was conquered by the Satsuma clan of Kyushu, this made it imperative for Okinawans to also master Japanese cooking.  China's influence can be seen in the use of beef, pork, fowl and rich sauces.  Japan's influence is apparent in the arrangement of food, to not only appeal to the taste buds, but the eye as well (Okinawan 81).

Here are a few recipes for you to try:
(Taken from text Okinawan Mixed Plate)
 
Andagi
(Okinawan doughnut)
Yields: 3 dozen
 
4 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp.salt
1/3 cup evaporated milk
2 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. vanilla
water
vegetable oil for deep frying
 
Mix dry ingredients together.  Make a well.
 
Combine the evaporated milk, oil, vanilla and enough water to make 1 cup.  Add the eggs.  Pour into the well and mix using your hands until barely moist.
 
Heat oil to 350 degrees F.  Drop dough with a tablespoon, or #24 ice cream scoop.  Fry until golden brown, testing to see if the andagi is done by piercing a skewer through it.  If the skewer comes out clean, as in a cake test, the andagi is done.  Remove and place on absorbent paper towel.
 
Ushi Nu Jubuni Nu Shimun
(Oxtail Soup)
Serves: 6
 
31/2 lbs. oxtail
1/2 lb. ginger, crushed
Seasonings:                          Dip:
1/2 cup shoyu                         ginger, grated
1 tsp. salt                                shoyu
pepper
MSG (optional)
 
Cut oxtail through joint.  Pre-boil oxtail: cover meat with water, bring to a rolling boil, drain and rinse.  Add just enough water to barely cover oxtail, then add 3 additional cups of water.  Add crushed ginger and seasoning.  Bring to a boil,  cover and simmer until meat is tender and can be easily pierced.  Skim constantly.  Add additional seasoning to taste.
Serve with a side dish of the dip.
 
Mushizakana
(Steamed Fish)
Serves: 2-4
 
1 lb. whole fish (white meat)
3 Tbsp. shoyu
3/4 tsp. rice vinegar
 
Scale and clean fish.  Steam whole fish for 20 minutes
Mix shoyu and rice vinegar. Dip fish into this sauce.
 
Somin
(Fine Noodle Soup)
Serves: 4
 
1 pkg. (8 oz.) somin (somen), undercooked
2 stalks green onions, chopped
1 thumb-size piece ginger, grated
1 aku head and bones
Sauce:
1/2 cup shoyu
3 cups aku stock
1/2 tsp. MSG (optional)
 
To boil somin: boil pot of water, add somin, bring to a boil again.  Add 1 cup of cold tap water.  When water comes to a boil again, immediately remove from heat, drain, and rinse with cold water.
Put aku head and bones in pot with 31/2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook at medium heat for 30 minutes, making sure there is enough water covering the aku head and bones at all times.  Drain, keep stock.
To 3 cups of aku stock, add shoyu and MSG, bring to a boil.  Add somin and cook in boiling aku soup for one minute.
Remove somin and place in bowls with a little soup.  Garnish with green onions and ginger.