It’s good to have something special in store for when an important celebration comes up or as a thank-you gift for that special someone. Tender Steamed Japanese Abalone is a premium product from SHINGEN FOODS designed for special occasions. It consists of large plump abalone steamed gently in a soy sauce broth using a unique method based on the famed nigai technique perfected in Yamanashi prefecture.
As the name suggests, Tender Steamed Japan Abalone is made using 100% domestically sourced natural abalone, which is quite rare in Japan. In order to fully appreciate the natural flavor of the abalone, we recommend a simple approach: slice it thinly and avoid seasonings apart from the included kombu tare sauce, which is designed to enhance the natural flavor of the abalone.
The editorial team here at SHUN GATE was lucky enough to receive the Tender Steamed Japanese Abalone to try. In this article, we give you our impressions of this product, including taste, appearance and other important considerations.
The handsome box, made from kiri(paulownia) wood, announces this as a high-end product that encloses something very special. Indeed, the abalone is of a size that is very rarely seen in the marketplace. The level of attention to selection of the abalone is evident within the box. When you open the lid, you see an abalone with the shell attached. Seeing such a large abalone in a wooden box gives you an instinctive rush of exhilaration.
The next step was to try some of the steamed abalone. The flesh was incredibly tender. Abalone is normally quite chewy, but this was so tender that it really enhanced the flavor even more. First we tried it without the tare sauce. There was a wonderful aroma of the seaside, which was delicious enough in itself, and there was no unpleasantness associated with the innards of the abalone. This product would go well as a snack to have with alcoholic beverages. It has a wonderful rich flavor and is as satisfying to eat as it is to behold in the box.
Yamanashi prefecture has no direct access to the sea, and as a result the resourceful folk have developed a range of traditional techniques for preserving and enhancing seafood. One of these is the nigai method, which is the basis of the technique used to steam the abalone. Back in the days when transportation was slow, abalone harvested in Suruga Bay in Shizuoka prefecture were boiled on the shore, then preserved in a soy-sauce based tare dip for the long journey back to Yamanashi. It was found that the abalone matured beautifully along the way, and thus it was that a new regional specialty was born. As a landlocked prefecture, Yamanashi has refined its own special ways and means of preserving and preparing seafood brought from the coast. As a result, today Yamanashi is generally either the highest or second-highest nationally in terms of consumption of dried fish and maguro tuna.
But what’s the secret to making the steamed abalone so tender? We asked Mr. Hosaka at SHINGEN FOODS.
“The secret to making it tender is to cook it while it’s still alive,” explains Hosaka. “If you cut it up or freeze it first, the flesh becomes tough. You have to cook it while it’s still alive. That preserves the tenderness.”
Tender Steamed Japanese Abalone is one of a selected number of premium products offered by SHINGEN FOODS. “We choose only the finest abalone, and we take great care with its preparation. Abalone harvested in Nagasaki prefecture are brought to Yamanashi while still alive, and then steamed very slowly and gently. Genuine Japanese abalone are rare and precious, and fetch two to three times the price of abalone from elsewhere. For the seasonings, we use only the finest bonito stock and rishiri kombu seaweed.”
Tender Steamed Japanese Abalone represents the ultimate manifestation of top-quality ingredients prepared using traditional culinary techniques from Yamanashi, and tastes excellent as a result. It would make a wonderful gift.
Writer : YUKI MOTOMURA / Photographer : KOJI TSUCHIYA
*Some of the images posted on our website have been provided by those whom we interviewed.