"Shizuo Farm's Suffolk Meat" - Delicious Hokkaido raised lamb!
One of the most popular lamb dishes in Hokkaido is "Genghis Khan," mostly the meat used for this dish is imported from Australia or New Zealand. The lamb produced here in Hokkaido is also of a high quality, meaning that it's more of an export item than a local delicacy. Surprisingly, many Hokkaido residents have never had the chance to taste it before.
Today I'll be introducing you to the lamb produced at "Shizuo Farm," which has been working with the town of Suffolk since 1965 to breed their sheep right here in Japan.
The meat processed here is used in the first class meals on ANA flights and was served to the heads of nations at the APEC conference in Yokohama. This high class Suffolk meat is hard to come by in regular restaurants, but for the past six years steps have been taken to bring the taste to more people.
The farm uses Suffolk Sheep. Sheep with a black heads, black legs, and they are native to England
I asked Mr. Yutaka Imai, Shizuo Farm representative, about the sheep. "Their heads and legs are black, that's how you know they're Suffolk. The sheep we raise are officially registered as purebreds. This kind of sheep is particularly susceptible to sickness and they don't have very many offspring, so raising them really takes a lot of time and care."
Japanese often say that lamb has a bad / strong smell, but according to Mr. Imai, "The smell that people talk about comes from the fat in the meat. That part is actually the most delicious, the best part of the meat." At Shizuo Farm, the feed is designed to help reduce the smell while keeping the flavor.
"When the sheep's diet is green grasses the smell is pretty bad. To avoid this we feed our sheep a grain diet. Here in Shibetsu beets, soybeans, and Indian millet are common crops, so those make up our standard feed. This has its bonuses as well, beets actually have a higher nutritional value than sugar," says Mr. Imai.
Diet isn't the only factor in caring for these animals, reducing stress is also an important part of care at the farm.
Shizuo Farm employs a technique called "CAS freezing," which flash freezes the meat without causing cell damage. This prevents smell and excess fluid discharge from the meat when defrosted, meaning it keeps its flavor better than conventionally frozen meats.
One of the best ways to enjoy Shizuo Farm's Suffolk lamb is in a steak dish. Seasoned simply, with salt and pepper or steak sauce, it packs a delicious taste.
My own suggestion would be a light seasoning of salt and pepper with a squeeze of lemon when you're ready to eat. I spoil myself a bit with a high grade of salt, a nice rock salt perhaps, and then dig in!
With this light seasoning the taste of the meat really shines through. You can throw away any thought of bad "sheep meat" smell and enjoy the taste of Hokkaido bred Suffolk lamb.
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● Kawanishi Hill, Shizuo Farm
Location : Higashi 2-Jyo Kita 3-Chome, Shibetsu
TEL : 0165-22-2151
FAX : 0165-23-1507
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Takako Chiba)
(All Photographs provided by Shizuo Farm)