The Tohoku region is aptly called “snow country.” Indeed, frequent, heavy snowfalls blanket the area from mid-October through March. The harsh reality of such weather is playfully, poetically brought to table with yuki nabé, literally “snow hot pots.” The “snow” is grated daikon radish that is heaped on other ingredients bubbling away in a lightly seasoned broth.

What else you choose to add to the pot is really up to you: most include blocks of tōfu, leafy greens, mushrooms and cabbage. Many families add chicken, pork or fish to the pot. Indeed tara or cod is a popular choice.

One of the challenges in achieving economic recovery in the Tohoku has been consumer concern over radiation contamination. Miyagi Prefecture has taken an aggressively proactive stance to reassure consumers. They rigorously monitor local farm products and fish brought into the ports that dot the Pacific coastline.  

Welcome to

A Taste of the Tohoku

Here's a chance to expand your repertoire of the region's special dishes. Each post to this page will feature some Tohoku specialty not included in my e-original book, KIBŌ. This wintertime posting offers two ways of utilizing grated radish: in a "sleet" sauce and in a "snow" hot pot.

Above, Naméko no Mizoré Aé (slippery mushrooms in "sleet" sauce). CLICK HERE to download a recipe so that you can re-create this in your kitchen.
Grating daikon for mizoré "sleet" dishes and/or yuki nabé (Snow Hot pot). The ceramic grater pictured above makes a fairly fluffy mass.
The results are communicated to consumers in a clear, understandable way. If you want to check it out for yourself, click here to view the English language page created and maintained by Miyagi Prefecture.

Click on any of the cities or towns listed on the map and a separate screen pops up with the latest test results for various food products. To help consumers evaluate the meaning of the data displayed, the “standard values” column lists what the acceptable limits are. IMPRESSIVE... and reassuring!
tara (Pacific cod; Gadus macrocephalus)

TARA (cod)
is written with the calligraphy for fish (below, left) and snow (below, center just after the plus sign). Using tara to make yuki nabé enhances the snow imagery of the dish.


Sliced cod, above, ready to be added to Snow Hot Pot
Above, an oni oroshi ("monster grater"). It  looks a bit like an old-fashioned scrub board. Daikon radish rubbed against the bamboo "thorns" creates a pile of crunchy, juicy shards. These get added to yuki nabé, or “snow hot pots.”
No matter where in the world you may be, you can support economic recovery of the region by making a contribution to Sponsor Fellows for Tohoku and Japan’s Recovery. This project, launched and managed by Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Communities (ETIC) has a dual goal: creating jobs in the area devastated by the disaster and developing a new generation of business leaders in Japan. To learn more about the Fellows Project, click here.