Houtou is a dish best known for its flat noodles and miso-based broth. While it may seem similar to udon noodles at first, the way they are made is distinctly different. Houtou noodles are prepared in a similar style to dumplings. Historically, the use of wheat and flour became common due to the replacement of rice crops by silk farms. To counteract food shortages, wheat was planted, and Houtou became commonplace. There are also different varieties of houtou, including a pumpkin soup base, which is thicker and heartier than the regular miso base.
Peaches and Grapes
Yamanashi prefecture is the largest producer of peaches in Japan, and arguably the sweetest and tastiest. It is also a large producer of the country’s grapes, and also has a big wine making culture due to this fact. Because of these two fruits, Yamanashi prefecture is known as the “Kingdom of Fruits”. Both can be picked by hand and eaten fresh at many of the orchards around the country, and are guaranteed to taste sweeter and juicier than any fruit bought at the super market. For peaches, try visiting during the summer, and for grapes, visit in the fall!
It was in Katsunuma, in central Yamanashi, where Japan’s first wine was made. In the 1870s, a young man was sent to France in order to learn the skill of winemaking. From there, many wineries were established in Yamanashi, and a strong wine industry (as well as delicious grape orchards) was born. Even today, the wine making culture is strong, and wines are being developed that can be paired well with traditional Japanese foods. Visit the local wineries to experience wine tasting events, and buy a bottle to send to your family (or bring back home to drink some more!)
Yoshida no Udon
While it may look like your typical bowl of udon noodles, Yoshida No Udon (or Yoshida’s Udon) is far from normal. The broth is a miso base, the noodles are of regular size, but it is special in that there is the inclusion of a “Suridane” or spice mixture in the soup. The spice mixture varies by restaurant and household, but usually includes Sichuan or chilli peppers, making Yoshida’s udon very spicy. The ingredients itself may vary as well, with some variations including horse meat, but all are loved for their rich flavor. If you’re ever feeling cold in Yamanashi, warm up with this delicious dish!
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