Local Cuisine Spotlight: The Best of Okinawa
Okinawa's Top 10 most mouth-watering dishes, as featured in local gourmet rankings and selected by travelers.
Soki Soba Noodles
In spite of the "soba" in the name, this noodles in this dish are not the typical buckwheat noodles in Japanese soba but rather thicker noodles in a twisted shape made from wheat flour. The unique texture of the dish comes from rubbing the noodles with oil after they have been boiled. The soup also features a seafood-based broth and is topped with pieces of bone-in pork.
Chanpuru (Okinawan Stir Fry)
In the Okinawan language, "chanpuru" refers to something that is "jumbled" or "mixed up." This Okinawan household dish is typically made by stir-frying foods such as leftover vegetables, tofu and luncheon meat. There are no hard and fast rules about the ingredients, but goya (bitter melon) chanpuru and somen (thin wheat noodle) chanpuru are well-known versions of the dish.
Cattle branded as Ishigaki beef are raised in the Yaeyama Islands, including on Ishigaki Island itself. Located at almost the same latitude as Hawaii, the island has a warm climate where grass grows year-round. The free-range cattle that graze in these fields produce exceptionally high-quality beef.
This variety of "island pig" originated with stock that was brought over from China around 600 years ago and continued to be raised in Okinawa. The meat features a marbled texture that is rare in pork, with sweet and very flavorful fat. Agu pigs are only about 1/3 of the size of normal pigs and grow more slowly, so their meat is produced in smaller quantities and is highly valued.
Rafute (Okinawan Pork Ribs)
Popular since old times as an easily-preserved food, this dish is made from skin-on pork, sweetened and spiced with ingredients such as awamori liquor and soy sauce before it is stewed. The meat is tender enough to pull apart with chopsticks and is generally served in large pieces. It is also sometimes used as a topping for soki soba.
Deep-Fried Gurukun (Fish)
"Gurukun" is the Okinawan name of a type of fish known as "takasago" in the snapper family. Considered one of the best-known fishes of Okinawa, by far the most popular way to serve it is deep-fried. Its year-round availability makes it a popular menu item in households as well as restaurants.
This type of seaweed grows only in warm waters and thrives only in limited areas near Miyako Island and main island of Okinawa. With its spherical leaves that resemble bunches of grapes, it features a texture not unlike that of many small bubbles. It is also rich in nutrients, including vitamins, fiber, iron and calcium.
This kind of tofu is made with peanuts. Its chewy texture and the scent of peanuts are addictive. Dipped in soy sauce with garnishes such as grated ginger or wasabi, it is also a perfect small dish to accompany a drink. It can also be enjoyed as a pudding-like sweet dish topped with honey or sweet sauces.
This soft, formless tofu is served without squeezing the brine out during the tofu-making process. It can be flavored with soy sauce and eaten alone, but it is also popular as an ingredient in miso soup or a topping for soki soba noodle soup. It features a rich soy flavor.
Yaeyama Soba Noodles
Although made in a similar fashion to soki soba, Yaeyama soba is known for its use of thinner, round and straight noodles as well as a soup that is sweeter than that of its cousin. Topped with pork fried in soy sauce and kamaboko (fish cakes), many also like to flavor it with Okinawan long pepper.
*This ranking was created based on the results of an email survey conducted among Rakuten Travel users who had stayed in Okinawa between December 15, 2014 and November 15, 2015 (excluding residents of Okinawa).
*Survey period: November 25 to November 30, 2015 (total number of votes: 2003)
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