Nozawana Oyaki: Nagano’s Specialty Vegetable Bun
The prefecture where I live, Niigata is adjacent to Nagano Prefecture, so in my city, some local specialties of Nagano can be bought in supermarkets.
I love the 7 spice blend by Yawataya Isogoro located in the city of Nagano, which is known as one of Japan’s 3 most famous Shichimi Togarashi, and my family purchases it on a regular basis in a supermarket near my house.
In addition to the traditional chili pepper mix, I sometimes have a craving for Nagano’s local specialty “Oyaki (おやき)”, which is also available at a supermarket in my city, and this time I actually bought it for this blog article.
What is Oyaki (おやき)?
The majority of regions in Nagano have a cold climate and aren’t suitable for producing rice, where the staples whose main ingredient was wheat/buckwheat flour were commonly eaten instead of rice.
Oyaki was one of them made from wheat/buckwheat flour, which today has become a regional specialty bun of Nagano. In the making, first, the flour is dissolved in water, kneaded, and thinly stretched.
In the dough, cooked or pickled vegetables (or edible wild plants) are typically filled, and the representative filling includes Nozawana-Zuke (pickled Nozawana) and sweet miso-flavored fried eggplant.
Traditionally, the vegetable stuffed bun is heated by being buried into hot ashes in the open hearth called Irori, but in modern times often cooked by frying with some oil or by steaming.
In my case, before eating, I microwaved the pre-prepared Nozawana Oyaki with cling film. The heated vegetable bun is firm with a nice chewy bite, savory and delicious.
Nozawana-Zuke (野沢菜漬け: Pickled Nozawana)
By the way, it is said that the plant or leafy green vegetable “Nozawana (野沢菜)” also originated in Nozawa Onsen Village in Nagano where “Nozawana-Zuke (野沢菜漬け: Pickled Nozawana)” is commonly made in households.