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 on a regular basis in a supermarket near my house.
In addition to the traditional spice mix, I sometimes have a craving for Nagano’s local specialty “Oyaki (おやき)”, which actually is available at a supermarket in my city and I bought this time 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 raw material was wheat flour and/or buckwheat were commonly eaten instead of rice.
Oyaki was one of them made from wheat flour and/or buckwheat, which now has become a regional specialty bun of Nagano. The flour is dissolved in water, kneaded, and thinly stretched.
In the flour dough, cooked or pickled vegetables (or edible wild plants) are typically filled, and representative fillings include Nozawana-Zuke (pickled Nozawana) and sweet miso flavored fried eggplant.
The vegetable stuffed bun is traditionally heated by being buried into hot ashes in the Irori open hearth, but in modern times often cooked by frying with some oil or by steaming.
Before eating, I microwaved and heated the pre-prepared Nozawana Oyaki with cling film. In general, the Oyaki bun is firm and somewhat chewy.
Nozawana-Zuke (野沢菜漬け : Pickled Nozawana)
By the way, it is said that the plant “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.