Japan’s mountainous Tohoku region is located in the Northeast part of the country, where the winters can be snowy and frigid and the summers are relatively cool. Traditionally, the food of Tohoku was eaten communally and at low tables. Long considered peasant fare because of its many soups and stews suitable for long winters, Tohoku food is warm, comforting, and earthy.
Among the most popular food from Japan’s Tohoku region is a dish called Ichigo-ni, which translates as ‘boiled or stewed strawberries,’ even though the soup doesn’t include any fruit. Ichigo-ni is a salty soup of thinly sliced sea urchin, often referred to as uni, and abalone.
Imoni, another signature dish from Tohoku, is a popular vegetable soup commonly eaten in fall that calls for a variety of ingredients including taro root, green onion, and a jelly called konnyaku. Some versions of imoni also include thin slices of beef. This Japanese food is one that comes with tradition. In the Yamagata prefecture of Tohoku, many family and friends gather together to cook imoni by the Mamigasaki River that flows through the city.
Wanko-soba noodles are also popular in Japan’s Tohoku region. Soba noodles are common throughout Japanese cooking and in the Iwate prefecture of Tohoku, wank-soba noodles are served in small bowls that get refilled as soon as they are emptied until the diner is sufficiently full.