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Okinawa Japan photography group featuring unique pictures of Okinawa
It was only 100 years ago that the kingdom of Okinawa was incorporated into Japan, and the southern islands still maintain their own distinctive culture, language and cuisine. Okinawan cooking tends toward stronger and spicier flavors than Japanese food, and is more heavily influenced by Chinese cooking styles.
Pork is a very important ingredient, and every part of the pig is used, from pig's feet and pig's ears to pork tripe. Other ingredients include local seafood and native tropical vegetables and fruits.
Black sugar and awamori (an Okinawan brandy-like liquor made from rice) are used in cooking along with soy sauce and miso (fermented soybeans). Kooreegusu is a condiment made from red peppers marinated in awamori.
Stir-frying is a common cooking method, and Okinawan chanpuru is basically a stir-fry using some combination of tofu, leeks and eggs plus other ingredients - Okinawan menus will usually have a number of chanpuru dishes listed.
Another typical dish is rafuti, pork stewed in miso, soy sauce, sugar and awamori, which is very similar to a Chinese dish called kakuni. Toofuyoo is a strongly flavored super-concentrated tofu concoction that's eaten in tiny bites as a snack while drinking - it's a bit like Velveeta cheese that's been compressed until it's reached an incredibly dense state.
A popular foreign-influenced dish is taco rice - basically a taco that uses rice instead of a taco shell. It also happens to be the author of this page favorite food in Japan for the last few months.
Here are some menu items you might run across. Many menus list the Okinawan term first, followed by a Japanese explanation.
rafuti -- chunks of pork stewed in awamori, soy sauce and miso
sooki -- pork stewed with bone sookibuni-- spareribs, usually flavored with salt, lemon, and/or ginger
minudaru-- pork stewed and flavored with sesame
nakami-jiru or nakami no suimono -- pork tripe soup
ashi-tibichi -- stewed pig's feet
mimigaa -- pig's ear in vinegar
deekuni -- daikon radish and pork stew
kuubuirichi -- konbu (seaweed) and pork stew
hiijaa sashimi -- raw goat meat
hiijaa-jiru -- goat meat in soup
chanpuru -- stir-fry with eggs, leeks and/or tofu
goya chanpuru -- chanpuru stir-fry with goya (bitter gourd)
maaminaa chanpuru -- tofu and bean sprout stir-fry
soomin chanpuru -- chanpuru with soomen noodles
nakami irichi -- pork tripe and miso stir-fry
hira yaachii -- Okinawan-style okonomiyaki
jiimamii-dofu -- peanut tofu
toofuyoo -- concentrated Okinawan tofu
sunui -- pickled kombu (seaweed)
iriko -- tiny dried fish, roasted
yaeyama kamaboko -- Okinawan-style fishcakes
papaya misozuke -- papaya pickled in miso (fermented soybeans)
shima rakkyou -- pickled shallots
yakisoba (Okinawa-fuu) -- thick noodles fried with vegetables
soba (Okinawa-fuu) -- soba noodles in soup with vegetables
sooki soba-- pork spareribs (with bone) with soba noodles in soup
juushii -- rice porridge (zousui)
fuuchibaa juushii-- rice porridge with a bitter leaf vegetable (yamogi)
saataa andagi -- Okinawan doughnuts
Orion-- Okinawan beer
awamori -- an Okinawan liquor made from rice