December 27, 12 | Fumiko Magota
Ichikawa Smoke shop opened in 2009 in Iwamizawa, about an hour from Sapporo by car. The shop is filled with a great variety of smoked products. When you think of smoked foods, salmon and chicken are probably the first things that pop into mind. But in this store, there are a few smoked foods sure to surprise you.
When I visited the shop, some of the products I saw included onions, potatoes, peanuts, squid, salmon, oysters, mackerel, scallops, cod roe (tarako), salted salmon roe (sujiko), and herring roe (kazunoko). You’ll probably hear at least a few guests ask “Really? Onions?! Fish too!?” as they explore the shop.
The creator of the Ichikawa Smoke Shop, Shigeki Ichikawa, thought to himself, “I want to make some really delicious smoked salmon,” and with that decided to go the entrepreneurial route. He explained to me, “My aim was to create something that even those who are not fans of smoked food would love.”
▲ Mr. Ichikawa with his kind, gentle smile. He was making smoked broccoli on this day.
The smoking process starts with a careful examination of the ingredients.
“80% of the ingredients used here are from Hokkaido. That’s not because they’re easier or cheaper to get, but after careful consideration and comparison, I’ve discovered that they just have the best flavor.”
There is a little preparation required before smoking. Depending on the type of food the seasonings will change, but you typically sprinkle your ingredients with a bit of salt, boil them with soy sauce and mirin (sweet rice wine), add a little butter, and finish with a touch of salt.
Finally, you’re ready to add the final seasoning: smoke. Most of Ichikawa’s products are cold smoked. They can take anywhere from one day to one week to finish.
▲ For smoking, tamo (a kind of Japanese ash) is used.
Finally, I was able to sample some of Ichikawa’s finished products.
First, I tried the oysters. I couldn’t believe how good they were! They were so tender and delicious. While their rich flavor was still lingering on my tongue, we moved on to the next food.
The Hokkaido salmon prosciutto was nice and light while the sockeye was very mild.
The onions, pickled in vinegar were crisp and refreshing, and the peanuts smooth and savory. The mackerel, the most popular product, had such a nice flavor to it! The oil wasn’t overpowering but was instead very light.
▲ The samples I tried. The oysters are in the middle.
One thing that all of the foods have in common is their deliciousness. The flavor of the ingredients is alive and deepened by the flavor of the smoke. Without overwhelming saltiness or strong scents, these smoked foods are very easy to eat. Even those who are not fans of smoked foods will find themselves enjoying Ichikawa products.
As I tried the foods, I thought they would be perfect with a drink…
Mr. Ichikawa agreed. “You’re right. Whenever I make these products, I consider that. ‘Would this go well with beer? Would a red wine be better for this?’”
If you get a chance, I highly recommend giving the sophisticated flavor of the Ichikawa Smoke Shop a try!
You can buy Ichikawa products by telephone or order online (details below).
Ishikawa Smoke Shop
Closed National Holidays
Click on the banner for Ichikawa Smoke Shop (市川燻製屋本舗) on the Kinmon Akita Sake homepage.
(Article by Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Fukko)
(Photography by Isao Kawamura)