Oyaki (おやき)

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    Introduction to Oyaki

    Oyaki is a Japanese dumpling stuffed with seasoned vegetables, fruits, and even anko bean paste. It is a local dish of Nagano prefecture and locals wrapped different ingredients in wheat flour and buckwheat flour and baked. It is soul food that locals from Nagano prefecture ate for a long time and it is within their culture. Nagano prefecture is one of Japan’s true food bowls. It is a region of dramatic mountains and bountiful farmlands and they produce some of Japan’s best fruit, vegetables, meat, and rice. That’s why the prefecture’s specialty is kind of related to it. Now,  I will guide you through one of their specialty – Oyaki. 

    Etymology

    Oyaki (おやき)

    Oyaki in the past are often grilled or steamed, depending on local and personal tastes. So the name given to it relates to that. The “yaki (やき)” of the name oyaki (おやき) means “to grill,” since they were originally simply grilled on an open hearth. 

    What is Oyaki?

    Oyaki (おやき)
    出典:農林水産省Webサイト

    Oyaki (おやき) is a traditional Japanese food from Nagano made by dissolving wheat flour, buckwheat flour, etc. in water then kneading it. Locals usually wrap it with bean paste, vegetables, etc. and thinly spread the dough, and bake it. Oyaki is usually made at home to enjoy as either a meal or a snack. Ingredients and preparations may differ widely, but whatever its form, the flavors of the humble oyaki are straightforward, best characterized by fresh local pickles, eggplant, mushroom, pumpkin, and other local produce. This food is handed down to each household as a substitute for rice in the winter. In addition, they made it as an offering in front of Buddha on August 14 every year in Obon.

    History of Oyaki

    Oyaki (おやき)

    Oyaki was and is comfort food. Traditionally families would sit around an open griddle and eat together on a cold snowy night. It is a specialty of the Nagano region, and Nozawa Onsen is close by. You can even go and see the snow monkeys of Japan which are also close by too just as an aside. Nagano Prefecture’s steep mountains and cold climate made rice cultivation difficult and produced poor yields in pre-industrial Japan. Farmers in Nagano turned to buckwheat or soba instead. This flour was then mixed with water and filled with local wild vegetables and often seasoned with soy sauce and salt and hence we get oyaki, steamed dumplings, or steamed buns if you will. 

    Oyaki Recipe

    Oyaki (おやき)

    Oyaki Ingredients

    Ingredients for oyaki dough (6 servings)
    cake flour75g
    Strong flour75g
    salt1g
    Hot water150g
    water100g
    Ingredients for bean paste (Nozawana)
    Nozawana (pickles)60g
    Fried tofu100g
    Minced pork30g
    Sesame oil4g
    Dark soy sauce4g
    sugar2g
    sake4g
    Ingredients for bean paste (pumpkin)
    pumpkin65g
    Salad oil2g
    water100g
    Dark soy sauce8g
    sugar2g
    sake4g
    Ingredients for bean paste (dried daikon)
    Kiriboshi daikon (dried)15 g
    carrot30g
    Fried tofu100g
    water150g
    Japanese-style granules1g
    Dark soy sauce8g
    sugar2g
    sweet sake4g
    salt1g

    How to make Oyaki?

    Oyaki dough procedure

    STEP
    Making dough

    Put salt, cake flour and strong flour in a bowl and mix well. While adding boiling water, mix with chopsticks until it becomes a lump to some extent. When the whole thing is mixed, put it together by hand.

    STEP
    Cutting the dough into parts

    When the dough becomes smooth, let it sit for 30 minutes. Cut into 6 equal parts in a stick shape. Dust it and spread it to a diameter of about 10 cm.

    Bean paste procedure (Nozawana)

    STEP
    Preparing tofu

    Drain the fried tofu and cut it into diced pieces.

    STEP
    Frying pork and other ingredients

    Heat sesame oil in a frying pan, add minced pork and pickled Nozawana and fry. After lightly frying, add fried tofu and all seasonings and fry to remove the juice.

    Bean paste procedure (pumpkin)

    STEP
    Preparing and removing pumpkin seeds

    Remove the pumpkin seeds and cut them into bite-sized pieces.

    STEP
    Seasoning and frying pumpkin

    Heat the vegetable oil in a pan, add the pumpkin from 1 and fry to blend. Add water and seasonings, bring to a boil, reduce to medium heat, cover, and simmer. Boil it so that it doesn’t burn until the juice is gone.

    STEP
    Crush the pumpkin

    Roughly crush them and let them cool.

    Bean paste procedure (dried daikon radish)

    STEP
    Soaking dried daikon

    Soak the dried daikon in water and put it back. After returning it, wash it well with running water and squeeze it well.

    STEP
    Julienne carrots

    Peel the carrots and cut them into julienne, and for the fried tofu, drain the oil and cut into thin strips.

    STEP
    Frying all ingredients

    Heat sesame oil in a pan, add 1 dried daikon radish, and fry, and when the oil is heated, add more carrots and fry.

    STEP
    Adding other seasonings

    Add the fried tofu, soup stock, and other seasonings cut into half and mix. When it boils, cover it with a lid and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes.

    Wrapping-baking procedure

    STEP
    Shaping the oyaki

    Roll each oyaki ingredient into a shape that is easy to wrap. Lift the dough in the middle so that the surroundings are deflated, and close the side.

    STEP
    Frying the oyaki

    Arrange the oyaki in a frying pan heated on low heat. Turn over the dough in order from the one with the burnt texture on high heat.

    STEP
    Steam over medium heat and serve

    Add 100 ml of water to the frying pan, cover, and steam over medium heat for 7 minutes. Then, serve it.

    Common Ingredients of Oyaki

    Oyaki (おやき)

    Nozawana

    This is Oyaki stuffed with pickled mustard green inside.

    Eggplant

    Locals generally used round eggplant instead of the general thin eggplant because it does not easily crumble and has a good texture.

    Mushrooms

    Japanese uses both dried and raw shiitake mushrooms so that they can enjoy the overflowing taste of dried shiitake mushrooms and the chewy texture of raw shiitake mushrooms at the same time.

    Pumpkin

    They used ripened pumpkin so that the starch in the fruit turns into sugar, and the sweet flavor that comes out of the nose becomes very strong.

    Vegetables

    Mainly locals packed it with lots of vegetables seasoned with Shinano miso and boiled well.

    Are dumplings common in Japan?

    Oyaki (おやき)

    Yes, dumplings are very common in Japan and Japanese restaurants. Japanese dumplings are called Gyoza. It is the equivalent of a variety of Chinese dumplings called Guo tie.

    Why are dumplings popular in Japan?

    Oyaki (おやき)

    While Japanese has eaten dumplings as far back as the Edo period, they became truly popular following World War II, when Japanese soldiers returned home from Manchuria and brought back with them an appetite for crispy Chinese dumplings and plenty of tasty recipes.

    Are dumplings healthy for the body?

    Oyaki (おやき)

    Dumplings are usually very healthy as they hold lots of whole ingredients which can offer a large variety of different micronutrients. However, there is a poor balance of macronutrients as most of the calories will be coming from carbs and fats.

    Recommended Oyaki Restaurants

    Irohado Main Store

    The store serves 7 standard types of Oyaki. Such as Nozawana, green onion miso, dried daikon radish, and red bean paste. Depending on the season, oyaki with plenty of seasonal flavors such as wild plants and mushrooms are also available. Irohado Main Store uses a dough – a mixture of wheat flour and buckwheat flour, stuff it with plenty of ingredients, fry it, and then bake it. With this unique manufacturing method, the outside is brown and the inside is chewy.

    Address: 1687-1 Kinasa, Nagano City
    Phone Number:  020-168-041
    Hours Open: [Monday-Sunday] 8:00-17:30 L.O. (Closed every Tuesday)
    Website: http://www.irohado.com/

    Irorido Suwako SA

    You can enjoy in this restaurant 10 kinds of oyaki. Such as venison oyaki using venison from Shinshu, Shinshu beef, red bean paste, pumpkin, eggplant, vegetable mix, creamy cheese with Western-style mushrooms, and spicy miso meat eggplant. Customers are satisfied with the thin dough which is filled with ingredients.

    Address: 3118 Kubo, Oaza Toyoda, Suwa City, Nagano Prefecture
    Hours Open: [Tuesday- Sunday] 10:00 to 22:00; Regular Holiday: Monday
    Website: https://tabelog.com/nagano

    Nishizawa Mochiya

    “Nishizawa Mochiya” has been keeping its simple taste without using chemical seasonings and preservatives since its establishment in 1952. They serve 21 kinds of Oyaki ingredients. Such as eggplant, nozawana, pumpkin, garlic chives, walnuts, edible wild plants, burdock, corn, red bean paste, broad beans, uguisu, and sweet potatoes. These include rare Oyaki such as miso-flavored corn, sweet and sour-flavored apples, and chestnut oyaki with a whole chestnut.

    Address: 1261 Minamiishidocho, Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture
    Phone Number: 026-226-5295
    Hours Open: 8:30 to 17:00; Irregular Holidays
    Website: http://oyaki2438.com/ 

    Azumido

    They not only serve Nozawana, which is typical of Shinshu but also seasonal oyaki such as bamboo shoots and mushrooms are available. There is also a premium type that uses 100% powdered seeds from Nagano prefecture and contains Shinshu beef, which is the taste of Nagano prefecture.

    Address: 1115 Toyoshina Minamihodaka, Azumino City, Nagano Prefecture
    Phone Number: 026-371-1400
    Hours Open: 10:00 to 18:30; Irregular Holidays
    Website: http://azumido.jp/

    Conclusion

    Oyaki (おやき)

    Nagano is a genuine food bowl in Japan thus, it is a location of stunning mountains and abundant farmlands in the middle of Honshu’s main island. Blessed with ample clear water and lush land, the area produces some of Japan’s greatest fruit, vegetables, meat, and rice. And this includes their own specialty – Oyaki. Visiting some of Nagano’s numerous farms, orchards, and breweries, or enjoying Nagano’s famed food culture at a local restaurant, opens up a gastronomic world that is guaranteed to please, giving a lasting sense that Nagano is a land of flavor, taste, and plenty.

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