One of the things I love about train stations in Japan, is they often have promotions by far-flung regions to promote their cuisine and attractions. This week, my local station has a stall from Morimachi, near Hakodate, in Hokkaido. I've always wanted to visit Hakodate, but I had never heard of Morimachi.
Looking at pictures, it doesn't seem to have a whole lot to offer, but it's on Uchiura Bay, with the twin peaks of Mt Komagatake behind it (come to think of it, the town does look quite a bit like the "Twin Peaks"of David Lynch's imagination. I wonder if they have a Log Lady?).
|The main street|
But wait, it does have one very special claim to fame: Ikameshi; whole squid, stuffed with rice and simmered in a sweet soy sauce. Apparently, it was invented in 1941 and became a popular bento for people passing through Hakodate on the train.
I had never tried it, but my husband had been waxing nostalgic about ikameshi recently, and asked me if I knew how to make it. In theory, yes... I've made the Italian version, calamari ripieni, with lots of garlic and tomato, but stuffing small squid with mochi rice seemed a bit fiddly and the combination of soy sauce and hot squid flesh makes an overpowering aroma when cooking, which has always put me off. However, if you want an easy guide to making ikameshi, I recommend "Cooking With Dog" - our host dog, Francis, wears a very jaunty green hat in this one! Here's a link to the video: Cooking with Dog Ikameshi
So, if you don't have the patience for cleaning and stuffing squid, just buy them! These ikameshi cost Y500 for two, which was plenty for 2 people with a few side dishes.
On first inspection, they didn't look very appetising, but after heating (you can put them in the microwave for a minute) and slicing into 1cm thick pieces, they were pretty tasty. I still prefer the Italian version, but I might try making ikameshi some time.
|It even says "Morimachi meisan" - Morimachi local specialty; in case you weren't sure.|
|They don't look so appetising like this...|
|Sliced up: much better. They were firm, but not chewy; just right.|
|On the company's website you can buy funky ikameshi key chains. Hope they don't smell like ikameshi!|