Japan’s 3 Best “Chinmi” Food Delicacies
When it comes to Japanese food delicacies called “Chinmi (珍味)”, the sea urchin roe “Uni (雲丹)” is especially famous and widely enjoyed in many countries around the world as a luxurious Sushi ingredient. (By the way, the Japanese word for food delicacies “Chinmi (珍味)” has a literal meaning of “rare taste”.)
Japan’s 3 Best Chinmi Food Delicacies
In fact, Uni has been regarded as one of “the 3 best chinmi” in Japan since the Edo period (Edo : 1603 to 1868) and the other 2 are “Karasumi (カラスミ)” and “Konowata (このわた)”.
Karasumi is the salted dried mullet roe known as a specialty of Nagasaki Prefecture, while Konowata is the Shiokara made from sea cucumber’s guts that is known as a specialty of Aichi Prefecture.
In addition to this old version, actually there also exists the new version of “the Japan’s 3 best chinmi” that were selected in modern times, and the 3 Japanese foods are “Kusaya (くさや)”, “Funazushi (鮒寿司)”, and “Kurozukuri (黒作り)”.
Have you ever heard of the Japanese delicacy food “Kusaya (くさや)“? It is the dried fish known as a specialty chinmi of the Izu Island chain, Tokyo, which is made by fermenting fish, such as horse mackerel and flying fish, in the fermented brine with a peculiar smell and flavor called “Kusaya Eki (くさや液)”, and then drying the fish.
Actually, Kusaya is infamous for its stinky odor, Especially, when the dried fish is grilled, an awfully bad smell spreads out and fills in the air, and it is said that the Kusaya just after grilled is the stinkiest of all Japanese foods. But despite the stench, Kusaya is unexpectedly delicious and is known as a healthy food with plenty of umami. Besides, Kusaya pairs perfectly with Sake rice wine.
Funazushi is the ancient Sushi Shiga Prefecture boasts which is also a smelly food made by fermenting crucian carps and rice using lactic bacteria. As a matter of fact, Funazushi is known to be the 2nd stinkiest food in Japan, after grilled Kusaya fish.
As you can see in the photo above, the yellow lump in the fish is roe with a smell and texture similar to cheese, and as with Kusaya, Funazushi is unexpectedly tasty despite the unpleasant smell.
Kurozukuri is the salted fermented squid featuring the bizarre appearance that comes from its black color. It is a kind of “Ika no Shiokara (イカの塩辛)” made by combining the squid Shiokara with squid’s ink.
As you can guess, the black stuff is squid’s ink, and thanks to that, this Shiokara variety gets plenty of umami. Known as a chinmi of Toyama Prefecture, Kurozukuri goes really well with Sake rice wine and pasta dishes.
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 日本三大一覧 )