Fried fish cake (plain) 3 pieces x 2
Stick-type fried fish cake with shiso (beefsteak plant) 4 pieces x 2
Fried fish cake with sweet potato 2 pieces x 2
Fried fish cake with gobo (burdock root) 4 pieces x 2
Stick-type fried fish cake 4 pieces x 2
Fried fish cake with carrot 2 pieces x 2
Products made from fish paste are enjoyed throughout Japan, an island nation with a strong traditional connection to seafood. The satsuma-age style of fish-paste products from Kagoshima has developed an enduring popularity around the country, in many cases being adapted to local tastes, producing a wide range of regional variations and seasonings not to mention naming conventions.
Here we will take a look at satsuma-age products from NANKAI FOODS in Kagoshima prefecture, the spiritual home of satsuma-age. The products are marketed under the brand Tsukiagean, derived from the word tsuki-age, the local term for satsuma-age, and are made using the traditional Kagoshima method that produces an authentic taste sought by aficionados all over Japan. A pack of Tsukiagean satsuma-age makes a wonderful gift.
The editorial team here at SHUN GATE was lucky enough to receive the Tsukiagean Satsuma-age Assortment to try. In this article, we give you our impressions of this product, including taste, appearance and other important considerations.
When you open the pack the first thing you notice is
that there are six different varieties to choose from.
Break open the seals and discover the unique flavors of each.
The plain version exudes quality and is notable for the glossy exterior and minimal sweetness. The stick-shaped variety with shiso (beefsteak plant) is distinctively white in appearance, with a striking fragrance and a fresh, clean taste. The sweet potato variety uses local sweet potatoes from Kagoshima. When you bite into it you can see the filling inside, and it has a wonderful flavor that is unique to the area.
All six varieties taste great of course, and one of the attractions of this product as a present is the fun in trying them all and choosing a favorite.
The Tsukiagean satsuma-age product range helps to maintain important local traditions and has a flavor that boasts universal appeal. NANKAI FOODS Managing Director Ryuko Samejima says that the attention to quality starts with selection of the raw ingredients.
“There are many places here that use blue-skinned fish,” Samejima explains, “but our product requires a more delicate finish, so we insist on the itoyoridai variety, which is lighter and has a finer texture. The sake is also an important contributor to flavor. We use a special type of sake made here in Kagoshima, which produces a truly unique flavor that you won’t find anywhere else.”
The sake that Samejima is referring to is akumochizake, a local variant that dates all the way back to the Heian period over 1,000 years ago, and the particular one used by Tsukiagean is called Takaraboshi, made by local brewer Hombo Shuzo. Indeed, satsuma-age is wonderful together with a glass of Takaraboshi sake.
“People from the Kanto region tend to think of fish-paste products as things to put in a stew,” notes Samejima, “but Kagoshima satsuma-age doesn’t actually require cooking; it goes well as a snack or as an addition to your lunchbox. Toasted lightly, it makes a great snack to have with drinks, because toasting it accentuates the bouquet of the local sake. The very best way to enjoy satsuma-age is with imo-shochu (Japanese spirits distilled from sweet potatoes).”
Thanks to its delicious flavor and versatility, satsuma-age appeals to people of all ages in all parts of the country. The Tsukiagean satsuma-age range is the perfect gift for any occasion.
Writer : TOSHIFUMI KIUCHI / Photographer : KOJI TSUCHIYA
*Some of the images posted on our website have been provided by those whom we interviewed.
Tenmonkan-dori boulevard is the principal downtown district in the city of Kagoshima, lined with traditional restaurants and souvenir shops. One of these is the Tsukiagean Tenmonkan store, which stocks a range of season products also provides in-store cooking demonstrations producing delicious fresh-cooked satsuma-age for customers to try. It’s the perfect place to relax and pick up some great souvenir gifts.
|Location||15-4 Sennichi-cho, Kagoshima-shi
(51 m from Tenmonkan-dori station on the municipal tramway)
|Hours||9:00 am - 8:00 pm|
|Closed||Open every day|