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“Ishikari Nabe” - the hot pot dish with a place name


There are various dishes with place names such as Chikuzen-Ni and Fukagawa-Don, but isn’t “Ishikari Nabe” the only hot pot dish with a place name? Ishikari Nabe is essential in coming season; the miso flavored salmon broth is perfect to warm our bodies.


The history of “Ishikari Nabe”, the local specialty of Hokkaido

There are many famous local hot pot dishes in Japan, such as “Kiritanpo Nabe” and “Shottsuru Nabe” from Akita Prefecture, “Houtou Nabe” from Yamanashi Prefecture, “Oyster Dote-Nabe” from Hiroshima Prefecture, “Mizutaki-Nabe” from Fukuoka Prefecture, etc. However, “Ishikari Nabe” must be the only dish with a place name. 
Yoshie Kudo, who studies about “Ishikari Nabe” told us: “How did ‘Ishikari Nabe’ appeared? What kind of dishes are called ‘Ishikari Nabe’? The key to finding the history and culture of Ishikari is in this hot pot dish.” 

いしかり砂丘の風資料館、石狩市教育委員会生涯学習部文化財課 課長の工藤義衛さん▲He is the manager of Ishikari Board of Education Lifetime Study Department Cultural Property Team and Ishikari Sakyu No Kaze Museum, Yoshie Kudo. 

We are not sure about the origin of “Ishikari Nabe” because there is no distinct fact found yet. However, Mr. Kudo told us that we could assume that it appeared in the form we are familiar, at about mid-Meiji Period. Because Ishikari Nabe is the dish we can prepare with miso and salmon, and people started to cultivate vegetables often used in the dish such as cabbage, Chinese cabbage, and onions from Meiji Period. 

石狩鍋に入っているキャベツ▲Cabbages are the key when we try to find the history of Ishikari Nabe?
* The photo is an image 

Ishikari prospered by fishing salmons and “salmon hot pot”, which uses bony parts of salmons, existed from long ago. And that dish was called “Dai Nabe”. This is because the name of a prostitute known as an ugly woman in Sapporo existed during Meiji Period was “Dainabe”. The hot pot dish with lots of bony parts “did not look good” so there is a theory that was the reason why the dish was called “Dai Nabe”. 

石狩鍋に入っている鮭* The photo is an image 

The hot pot dish called “Salmon Nabe” or “Dai Nabe” used soy sauce or salt for seasonings, but that used miso appeared at the beginning of Showa Period. At that time, fishing salmon using fishing net was a popular sightseeing attraction. When people prepared miso flavored Salmon hot pot, it became famous and then became to be called as “Ishikari Nabe”. 
According to Mr. Kudo, “Ishikari Nabe” was not put into the second edition of “Kojien Dictionary” published in 1976; it started to appear from the third edition published in 1983. He assumes from the editing process of Kojien Dictionary, that the term “Ishikari Nabe” became to be known nationwide around 1980.


Ishikari City’s “Ishikari Nabe Revival Project” and “Akiaji No Kai” 

Ishikari City is involved in the “Ishikari Nabe Revival Project”, which is a project to double the number of restaurants who provide “Ishikari Nabe” originates in Ishikari. “Akiaji No Kai” drives the activity. 
We visited the president of “Akiaji No Kai” and the owner of “Takara Sushi”, Masami Nakata and heard about the activity. 

石狩市花川にある「宝寿し」代表で、「あき味の会」会長の中田雅民さん▲The owner of “Takara Sushi” in Hanakawa, Ishikari City, and the president of “Akiaji No Kai”, Masami Nakata. 

He started “Akiaji No Kai” around 2005. “Ishikari has the amazing local specialty ‘Ishikari Nabe’ but it was not promoted at all, and the city was not good at promotion, either. The project started when local restaurants who stood up to promote ‘Ishikari Nabe’, not only domestically but also internationally.” Mr. Nakata told us.  

「宝寿し」店内に掲出されていた「石狩なべ」の額。田岡克介石狩市長の筆▲The calligraphy of “Ishikari Nabe” was put on the wall of “Takara Sushi”. The mayor of Ishikari Katsusuke Taoka wrote it. 

They registered September 15 as “The day of Ishikari Nabe” to Japan Anniversary Association in 2008. “In Ishikari, salmons start to be caught around September 15, and the number 915 can be read as ‘Kuigoro’ (means ‘it’s the right time to eat’). So we thought it’s the best day to call as ‘The day of Ishikari Nabe’” (Mr. Nakata said)

石狩市宝寿し店内▲There are lots of posters and banners of “Ishikari Nabe” inside the sushi restaurant. The salmon stuffed toy, handmade by a regular customer, is put above the banner. The letters of “Ishikari Nabe”  on posters and banners are designed from calligraphy work by the mayor of Ishikari Katsusuke Taoka.

“People all around Japan know that ‘Ishikari Nabe’ is a Hokkaido local hot pot dish but surprisingly, not many local people in Ishikari know about it. I want more local people to taste the dish and learn about it. We do various activities to promote Ishikari Nabe. We visit Sapporo Snow Festival every year and offer free Ishikari Nabe to people who are involved in building snow statues. In ‘Ishikari Kai (a group of people from Ishikari)’ in Tokyo, they participate in events and offer free Ishikari Nabe to people in Tokyo.”
You can check the list of restaurants in “Akiaji No Kai” who offers Ishikari Nabe in the website of Ishikari Tourism Association

Trying the real “Ishikari Nabe” in Ishikari, the origin place of Ishikari Nabe!

We cannot leave Ishikari without trying Ishikari Nabe as we heard about it so much from the interviews, so we decided to try “Ishikari Nabe” from “Takara Sushi”. 

「宝寿し」の「石狩鍋」▲“Ishikari Nabe” from “Takara Sushi”. 1,300 yen for one person and you need to make a reservation in advance. 
* The picture is for two people.

The real “Ishikari Nabe” is flavored with miso, and standard ingredients are salmon pieces and bony parts, cabbages or Chinese cabbages, onions, and konnyaku. Other than that are what makes hot pots unique and differs by restaurants. 
“Ishikari Nabe” from “Takara Sushi” had cabbages, Mizuna, onions, konnyaku, mushrooms, tofu, green onions, fish balls, salmon pieces, roe, and bony parts. 

▲Boiling “Ishikari Nabe” 

「宝寿し」の「石狩鍋」▲Enjoy while it’s hot! 

Tried the miso flavored soup first…Hmm? What is this flavor? It was not simple miso flavor, had a deeper flavor and slight spiciness. 
Mr. Nakata told us; “we add fresh cream a little bit to make the mild flavor. And also Doubanjiang, Chinese chili beans sauce, to add spiciness.”
The soup had sweetness from vegetables such as cabbages and onions, excellent fish broth from salmon pieces and bony parts. The mild miso soup had deep, complex flavor and spiciness in the end. So delicious! I can eat forever! 

「宝寿し」の「石狩鍋」▲Enjoy also bony parts of salmons because it is one of the most delicious parts of “Ishikari Nabe”. Salmon has thick bones, and it’s easy to eat. 

After a while, Mr. Nakata offered us to have Ojiya (Japanese style risotto) in the end. Yes, we usually enjoy udon noodles or ramen in the end after eating hot pot, but definitely Ojiya for Ishikari Nabe. 

「宝寿し」の「石狩鍋」の〆おじや▲Put rice

「宝寿し」の「石狩鍋」の〆おじや▲Put eggs

「宝寿し」の「石狩鍋」の〆おじや▲Then small green onions

「宝寿し」の「石狩鍋」の〆おじや▲There is no way it is not delicious! 

I and photographer finished Takara Sushi’s “Ishikari Nabe” for two people completely. I felt so lucky that I was born in Hokkaido! 
The mouth of Ishikari River which Ishikari River and the Sea of Japan meets, the salmon god “Saba-Sama”, and “Ishikari Nabe”. The relationship between Ishikari and salmon was not just a history, but it was also a definite food culture passed down until today. 
Well, I learned a little technique to add fresh cream and Doubanjiang so I should cook “Ishikari Nabe” tonight. I should cool Sapporo Classic Beer, too! 

 Related Links

- Ishikari City
- Ishikari Nabe (Ishikari Tourism Association)
  • “Ishikari Nabe” - the hot pot dish with a place name

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Takako Chiba