- DOJO BAR (Naha); A Unique Bar Full of International Karate-ka in Okinawa, the Holy Land of Karate
- Bridging the Locals and Visitors at Miyako Island’s Diner, Nnmaya
Just a Little is Enough to Breathe Fire!! Yanbaru Hiri Hiri is a Great Gift of the Island’s Hot Chili Peppers for Hot Food Lovers.
post : 2018.11.28 06:00
Have you heard of Shima Togarashi? They’re the small, hot chili peppers of Okinawa. For those of you who have visited Okinawa before, you’re probably familiar with them. At local Okinawa soba shops, you’ll see the Koreigusu, the chili peppers pickled in the local Awamori on the table to add a little zest to your meal.
Just as the name says (Shima means ‘island’), these hot chili peppers are grown in Okinawa, and there are several native species. The peppers shown in the photo above are the small and plump chili peppers grown in Yanbaru, the northern region of Okinawa Island.
In the fields, the peppers grow with their ends aiming for the sun, as shown in the photo above.
There is a pepper powder available in the market made from this type of hot chili peppers, and the product is named Yanbaru Hiri Hiri (‘hiri hiri’ is a Japanese onomatopoeia to describe a burning sensation).
Brace yourself! It’s REALLY hot!!! It certainly adds a sharp punch to your food. When I first tried it, I sprinkled some on my food like I would with regular chili pepper powder. I took a bite, and wow, I was surprised.
Just as the name says, my mouth was ‘hiri hiri’, on fire and I was instantly knocked out. I was breathing out fire, so to speak, and finally understood why they named it this way.
How can it be this hot? It has good flavor and the color is pretty, too. I did a little research and learned about the careful steps taken in the making.
The island chili peppers used to make this product are organically grown. The peppers are transported on the day they’re harvested, and the product is made within three days. This is the first of the many particular ways the Yanbaru Hiri Hiri is made and what makes it so special. Upon harvest, the peppers are thoroughly washed with ion water and dried at low temperature, then they are laid out to dry well under a large dryer for a day and a half.
The drying is done at low heat as to keep the rich flavor of the chili peppers. They say that the flavor of the chili peppers dried well under low temperature is very different than when dried under high heat.
The stems are removed by hand one pepper at a time, and finally, a crusher is used to produce a smooth powder.
Well, some of you may have guessed by now the secret to why the Yanbaru Hiri Hiri is so hot. The secret is…
That’s right! The seeds are also crushed into powder, too! (No wonder!)
The color is more gentle, a red that’s closer to orange, compared to other regular chili pepper powder. That’s because the yellowish seeds are crushed together. Just like the beautiful sunsets of Okinawa, this beautiful color is unique to Yanbaru Hiri Hiri.
There are two types of Yanbaru Hiri Hiri available on the market; one that is made only with the island chili peppers, and another that has Okinawa’s shikwasa citrus added to it. Just shown in the photo above, the shikwasa are also dried under low temperatures, and the rind, pulp, and seeds are all crushed into powder and blended with the chili peppers. The type blended with shikwasa adds an extra tropical taste with a refreshing citrus aroma.
Yanbaru Hiri Hiri is a delicious addition to a wide variety of foods like noodles, soups, stewed dishes, donburi bowls, pizza, sauces and dressings. The size is small enough to for souvenirs without the weight and bulk in your bags and suitcases, and the price too, is great at 500-600 yen. How about a nice kick of hotness from Okinawa for that someone you know who loves hot and spicy foods?
Don’t forget, try a small amount first! I did warn you!
Next Stage Okinawa Consolidated Company
[Shops Selling Yanbaru Hiri Hiri]
-Washita Shop Kokusai Street Branch
Address: 1F JA Dream Kan 3-2-22 Kumoji, Naha, Okinawa
Open Year Round
-Oshiroya (In Makishi Public Market)
1F Makishi Public Market, 2-10-1 Matsuo, Naha, Okinawa
Closed: 4th Sunday of the month
-Kyoda Michi no Eki (Road Station) Yanbaru Specialty Goods Center
Address: 17-1 Kyoda, Nago City, Okinawa
Open Year Round
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Akiko Ono