A lot of countries have had a crack at creating the humble chicken wing. However, Nagoya’s tebasaki (Japanese-style fried chicken wings) are in a complete class of their own.
Nagoya tebasaki is not battered like “other” chicken wings. The wing is seasoned then fried not once, but twice – the second time at a much higher heat which gives the wings their infamous crunch. Then they are glazed with the most mouth-watering, salty, savoury, sweet flavour that will not let you stop at five.
There are a number of ways to eat tebasaki, and some restaurants have pictured instructions, which are always fun to try. My favourite is trying to suck the whole lot off after removing the wing join – it took a while to master and it’s pretty entertaining for the judging eyes around me. Best washed down with many rounds of ice-cold beer or sake.
Aichi Prefecture produces the most eel in Japan – and they do it damn well. Some people describe eel as a dense, meaty-white fish, tasting like chicken; others claim it is sweet and depends on the sauces by which it is accompanied. Most people agree it’s just plain delicious and you cannot visit Nagoya and not partake in this ritualistic culinary event that is hitsumabushi:
Divide the dish into four and separate the first section into a smaller bowl and enjoy the simplicity of it – eel and rice as is.
With this step you can go a little wild. Place the second section in the bowl and blanket it with as many condiments and seasonings as your little hitsumabushi heart desires.
Add the third part of your dish to the bowl, with chosen seasonings, and this time pour the bowl of broth over the lot. Now if this is your favourite way to eat hitsumabushi, don’t luck out and use all your broth if you want some more for round four.
Now revisit your favourite way of eating hitsumabushi. Cover your eel and rice with copious amounts of seasoning, drench it with broth, or eat it plain – whatever takes your fancy. If you are a crazy foodie that has to finish off every dish with the perfect bite, then the last bowl of hitsumabushi will render you completely satisfied.
How many cities do you know can claim to have a signature heirloom-bred, free-range chickens? Cochin chickens originated in the Meiji Era when a local breed was crossed with a Chinese breed and the result was a bird renowned for its fine texture and strong flavor. These chickens are raised probably better than many children, and some Japanese chefs have had to be deemed worthy by particular Cochin farmers before they can even consider purchasing their chickens.
If you are a Cochin virgin, be prepared for the tastiest, most succulent chicken you will ever experience, in the forms of tender chicken meat balls; delicately simmered in sakekasu; grilled chicken skin with the tastiest yellow fat, and good ol’ tebasaki. The meat is so pristine that it is enjoyed as sashimi. Yes, raw. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it – I’m still alive to tell the tale.
The base of many Nagoya dishes is their famous sweet, rich, red miso. This is how miso katsu differs from ton katsu, and I believe wins the katsu competition. Think pork, fried in panko breadcrumbs, dipped in hot miso sauce sat atop fresh shredded cabbage and rice (you gotta have something healthy).
Translated as boiled miso with udon, this dish may sound simple enough, though it is impossible to recreate at home. The rich miso broth is boiled for hours and then combined with homemade udon noodles, egg, green onions, and a delicious ebifurai (deep fried shrimp – another Nagoya speciality).
A delicious alternative to onigiri, especially if you love your deep fried shrimp. These little pockets of rice wrapped in seaweed goodness are home to an entire tempura shrimp.