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 are available at supermarkets.
I love Yawataya Isogoro’s seven spice blends, one of Japan’s three best Shichimi Togarashi, which my family purchases regularly.
In addition to the chili pepper mix, I sometimes crave Oyaki (おやき), which is also available at some supermarkets in my city, and this time I bought this Nozawana Oyaki (野沢菜おやき).
What is Oyaki (おやき)?
Many regions in Nagano have a cold climate and are unsuitable for producing rice. So in the old days, staples mainly used wheat or buckwheat flour, and the locals ate them instead of rice.
Oyaki was among them. It is a small bun made from wheat or buckwheat flour, and today, the food has become a local specialty of Nagano.
This bun typically contains cooked or pickled vegetables (or edible wild plants), and representative fillings include Nozawana Zuke (pickled Nozawana) and fried eggplants flavored with sweet miso.
Traditionally, the locals bury those vegetable-stuffed buns into hot ashes in the open hearth called Irori to heat. But nowadays, they commonly cook them by frying or steaming.
As for me, I microwaved the pre-prepared Nozawana Oyaki with cling film. The heated bun has a firm and nicely chewy texture, and the taste is savory and delicious.
Nozawana Zuke (野沢菜漬け: Pickled Nozawana)
By the way, the leafy green vegetable Nozawana (野沢菜) originates from Nozawa Onsen Village in Nagano, where the locals often make Nozawana Zuke (野沢菜漬け: Pickled Nozawana) at home.