Introduction to Okinawan Food

  • Goya champuru (photo: flickr/jetalone)
  • Rafute (photo: flickr/jetalone)
  • Taco rice (photo: flickr/jetalone)

Sitting at the southernmost tip of Japan, Okinawa is an archipelago with its own cuisine distinct from what you’ll find in, say, Osaka or Fukuoka. Locals from the prefecture dine on a mix of dishes that reflect its past as “an important trading hub linking China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.”

CNN Travel ran down 10 classic Okinawan dishes, beginning with what is considered the signature goya champuru. It consists of a gourd vegetable indigenous to Southeast Asia, cooked in an array of ways. One of the standing favorites is goya made with tofu, pork, and eggs.

Other popular dishes include rafute, pork belly “simmered in soy sauce and glazed with brown sugar,” which can be served atop Okinawa soba. There is taco rice, which is a remnant of the U.S. military’s presence on the island. It’s essentially rice topped with spiced ground beef, cheese, and salsa, which is considered “a speciality at countless restaurants not just in Okinawa but across Japan.”

For dessert, locals enjoy fried pastry that is “more heavyweight cruller than fluffy honey-dip, with a crisp, deep-brown crust encasing a dense, cakey center” called sata andagi. 

[via CNN Travel]

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