Taste of the Tohoku

Expand your repertoire of Tohoku dishes: this post features IMO NI, a meat and potato stew that is especially popular in YAMAGATA Prefecture. The map on the right shows the different styles of preparation depending upon the area.

SHONAI favors pork in a miso-flavored broth.

MOGAMI favors pork in a soy-flavored broth.

OKITAMA favors beef in a soy & miso-flavored broth.

MURAYAMA favors beef with a soy-flavored broth.

Okitama-style (beef, miso & soy)
Murayama-style (beef & soy)
MOGAMI-style (pork & soy)

 SHONAI-style (pork & miso)

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.

imo ni

Yamagata Prefecture, one of six prefectures in the region designated as the Tohoku, is in turn, sub-divided into four areas:

Shonai (shown in blue along the Sea of Japan coast), Mogami (shown in green, sharing a border with Akita Prefecture to the north), Murayama (shown in yellow, sharing an eastern border with Miyagi Prefecture), and Okitama (shown in pink to the south, sharing borders with Niigata and Fukushima Prefectures).

Although all regional variations of Imo Ni use sato imo (literally “country potatoes,” these tubers are in the Taro family), other elements such as type of meat (beef or pork) and choice of seasoning (soy sauce or miso), change depending upon the area.

For those who would like to try their hand at making MURAYAMA-style IMO NI for themselves, a recipe can be downloaded here.

Dōzo, meshi agaré (Eat up!)
Every year, in September, as days shorten and temperatures dip, a huge cauldron of imo ni is cooked up on the banks of the Mamigasaki River. Into the 6-meter wide pot goes 3 tons of sato imo potatoes, 1.2 tons of beef, and 3,500 leek-like naga negi to make about 30,000 portions!!!