The Japanese enjoy a variety of traditional fermented foods such as miso and soy sauce, Mirin rice wine, natto soybeans, rice bran pickles, and sake. With its favorable climate conditions, Fukui is particularly well-known for its abundance of regional specialty fermented foods whose flavors and recipes have been passed down for generations.
Best known of all Fukui’s fermented foods, heshiko is mackerel or sardine fermented in rice malt. The technique used to preserve this food is especially noteworthy, as mackerel is ordinarily known for spoiling quickly.
Other varieties of rice malt fermented foods include nare-zushi, fermented sushi with fish and vegetables, and nishin-zushi herring sushi made with koji rice bran. Each has a rich flavor, as well as excellent nutritional value. Hamana miso, a local variety of miso, is another specialty that is often used to complement rice.
Heshiko has been passed down since the Edo period. This mackerel fermented in rice bran is a nutritious source of DHA, protein, dietary fiber and more, making it a health food popular not only in Japanese but also in Western style cuisine in recent years.
【Nare-zushi: Fermented Sushi with Fish and Vegetables】
Nare-zushi is made by desalinating heshiko and fermenting the fish in a mix of rice and koji rice malt. Made from late autumn to early spring, this food is often eaten over the New Year and at festival times. Nare-zushi made with mackerel has been officially certified as a World Heritage “Ark of Taste” food.
【Nishin-zushi Herring Sushi】
Nishin-zushi was traditionally made using herring that was carried to Tsuruga on historical "Kitamaebune" ships.
Using soybeans and regionally-grown rice as its base ingredients, hamana miso is made through distillation and fermentation, and is a nostalgic taste to many who call Fukui home.