One of Kumamoto’s famous dish is Sakura meat. This dish is particularly close to home for Aso. This will fall under Kyoudo Ryouri 郷土料理; regional / local dish . Some may find this hard to stomach, but this is actually horse meat.
The name came from the pink meat; pink cherry blossom. It started trending post world war 2 due to the lack of food supply. The retired military horses were a substitute for pork and beef. Aso had lots of grass plains. So there it was, a dish closed to home. Today in our world of abundance, Sakura niku is a delicacy. Many sakura meat dishes reach gourmet status.
Horse meat is naturally low in fat and high in vitamins. They come in variety of cuts; local chef takes that quite seriously as it affects the texture and outcome of the dish. Specialty store menus specify cuts of each dish.
- Kone こね, white fat of the neck. Distinctive taste. Haute gourmet
- Short loin
**An old friend treated me to some Kone. Unfortunately, I was not aware of this until afterwards. He was concerned that I wouldn’t try it out if he told me before hand. lol.
Well known Sakura niku 桜肉 dishes are:
- Kushiyaki 串焼き – grilled on a skewer
- Kushiage 串揚げ – fried on a skewer
- Yakiniku 焼き肉- grilled meat (broad terms with or without skewers)
- Shigureni 時雨に- boiled meat with soy sauce, sugar and ginger
- Tatta age – deep fried battered meat
- Basashi 馬刺し – raw / sashimi served with wasabi
- Nabe 桜なべ – hotpot お鍋
I had the sakura-nabe (hot pot). The meat was fragrant and succulent. It tasted really good. That soup base was a sweet soy flavour broth. It was just amazing! An raw egg was added to the pot and that just made the broth tasted ultra smooth.
Basashi didn’t taste that much different from beef to be honest. The smell was more ‘gamey’? The bear (Aomori prefecture) and whale (Nagasaki prefecture) was a different story.
**Sakura dish is also well known in Nagano region. My food post for Nagano region Wasabi farm – Hotaka, Japan 穂高, 長野
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