Kagoshima Food Guide (Satsuma Cuisine)

Gourmet-dori in downtown Kagoshima

Kagoshima's cuisine is also known as Satsuma Cuisine (F, Satsuma Ryōri) after the old name of Kagoshima Prefecture. It is one of the most distinct local cuisines because of Kagoshima's isolated location at the southern end of Kyushu. Travelers may notice some influences of Okinawa cuisine, as Okinawa was controlled by Satsuma for a few hundred years in the past. A wide variety of restaurants can be found in downtown Kagoshima, for example along Gourmet-dori ("Gourmet Street").

Satsumaage
Popular across the country, Satsumaage is one of the most famous dishes of Kagoshima. It mostly consists of a paste of minced fish that is then deep fried. The type of fish used in the paste can vary, but is often bonito, mackerel or sardines. Some other ingredients are also included in small quantities to add a bit of flavor, such as pickled ginger and vegetables.

Kibinago
Kibinago is a small herring fish that is typically served raw as sashimi with a vinegared soybean paste. Sometimes called "silver sprat" in English, kibinago are about 10 centimeters long and are often used as bait for tuna.

Torisashi
Torisashi is raw chicken ("tori" in Japanese). Readers may recognize the "sashi" in torisashi from sashimi (thinly sliced raw seafood). Needless to say, the chicken must be served very fresh.
Both the meat of the bird and the heart are often served. The dish is usually accompanied by ground ginger and soy sauce, which is used as a dipping sauce.

Tonkotsu
Tonkotsu is a stew made with pork and miso that is served with vegetables, such as daikon and konnyaku. The pork is cooked very slowly so that it becomes very soft and the bones can also be eaten. A large amount of shochu is added into the broth as well, which gives tonkotsu a slightly sweet flavour in addition to the savory taste of the meat and miso.

Kurobuta and Kuroushi
Kurobuta and Kuroushi literally mean, respectively, "black pork" and "black beef". The name comes from the color of the animal's skin, not from the actual meat itself. The Kurobuta are Berkshire pork that were originally imported to Kagoshima about 400 years ago, while the Kuroushi were bred in Kagoshima.
Many shops will prominently advertise either Kurobuta or Kuroushi as one of their dishes. Kurobuta is often eaten as tonkatsu (breaded, deep fried pork cutlet, see photo) or shabu shabu (a hot pot of thinly sliced meat and vegetables), while Kuroushi can be enjoyed as a traditional Western steak.

Satsuma Shochu
Shochu is a clear, distilled liquor with an alcohol content of about 25%, that is popular across Japan, but especially in Kyushu. The shochu that is unique to Kagoshima is made from local sweet potatoes (Satsumaimo).
Restaurants in Kagoshima will often have a variety of Satsuma Shochu on offer. It can be enjoyed straight, on the rocks (with ice) or mixed with hot water. Shochu is also used in cooking.

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Page last updated: May 11, 2016