Okinawa Island Guide

Everything on Okinawa Island from A to Z | cuisine

Okinawa Island Guide

Cuisine

Okinawan cuisine

Okinawan dietary habits have received a lot of attention lately. Many researchers and otherwise-curious individuals make pilgrimages to the island in hopes of discovering the secret to the famed longevity of its people, and more than a few of them believe that the secret lies in the island's food.

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Pork culture

In Okinawa, just about every part of the pig is used for food except for its squeal. In fact, Okinawan cuisine cannot be discussed without pork, which is an essential ingredient for a number of home cooking dishes. Pork is rich in vitamin B1, which is said to be highly effective in relieving fatigue. In order to get by in hot weather, pork is an indispensable ingredient in the daily lives of Okinawans, whose dietary habits are believed to be associated with their extraordinary longevity. A wide variety of pork dishes can be found in almost every eatery and izakaya on island, and there are also an increasing number of restaurants specializing in aguu, Okinawa's premium pork that has been attracting much attention in recent years.

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Typical Okinawan dishes

Okinawan dietary habits have received a lot of attention lately. Many researchers and otherwise-curious individuals make pilgrimages to the island in hopes of discovering the secret to the famed longevity of its people, and more than a few of them believe that the secret lies in the island's food. Although that remains to be proved, it’s worthwhile to try it out.

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Okinawan Soul Food = Okinawa soba

Okinawa soba is the best loved noodle dish on the island, and every Okinawan has a favorite soba place. Characterized by noodles with a silky smooth texture, Okinawa soba is perfect for a hot summer’s day.

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Sushi 寿司

Sushi rolls, with ingredients like shrimp and avocado, were conceived in America when eating raw fish was an alien concept but have now won international acclaim. However, why not try genuine Japanese sushi when you’re in Japan? Traditional Japanese sushi is a small rice ball flavored with sweetened vinegar and topped with sashimi or thinly sliced seafood. At sushi restaurants you can enjoy standard Japanese fare including fresh sashimi. Dishes of the day are recommended for those who want to enjoy freshly caught seafood of the season.

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The essence of awamori

Awamori is a distilled alcoholic beverage that uses fermented rice malt made from long-grain rice and black koji mold. Okinawa has 48 awamori distilleries, each of which offers various brands of awamori with different flavors.

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Okinawan gourmet meats

While traveling around the island, you'll surely come across dishes using high quality meats produced in Okinawa.

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Alcoholic beverages in Okinawa

Okinawa has a thriving alcoholic beverage industry and produces not only awamori, the traditional drink of the Ryukyu Kingdom, but also more contemporary forms of alcohol such as microbrewery beers and fruit-flavored wines.
On the brewery scene, Orion draft beer is number one, with both a local and an international following. Awamori, distilled liquor with a history dating back centuries, is still popular today with people of all ages and is the beverage of choice at beach BBQs, a time-honored way to enjoy the summer in Okinawa.
For more adventurous drinkers looking for something new and creative, innovative products such as sugarcane rum and wine made from locally produced fruit are constantly debuting on the market.

Here is a rundown of what’s popular on the local beverage scene:

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Authentic palace cuisine with heartfelt hospitality

During the reign of the Ryukyu monarchs, when the kingdom flourished through trade with surrounding Asian countries, elaborate feasts were hosted nightly for visiting envoys of the respective nations.
With about 300 envoys in Okinawa for three to five months at a time, it is said that the native pig population was decimated. Okinawan rulers, keen to please Chinese envoys coming from a gastronomic culture thousands of years old, ordered extensive culinary research and established the tradition of Ryukyuan palace cuisine. As with the tea ceremony culture of mainland Japan, Okinawa’s palace cuisine conveys an attitude of respectful hospitality.

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Okinawan vegetables

Cultivated in fields with strong southern island sunlight, Okinawan vegetables tend to grow large in size, and in addition they are considered safer than produce from mainland Japan due to the higher levels of contamination found there stemming from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Although some have a particularly bitter taste that you may not be familiar with, Okinawan vegetables offer a variety of health benefits, which make them worth eating.

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