Okinawa Tourism Information:Series/IslandBlessing,IslandTastePart26Ucchin(Turmeric)

Series / Island Blessing, Island Taste Part 26 Ucchin (Turmeric)

post : 2015.05.24 19:00

(Flat Plate by Mr. Katsushi Shimabukuro)

Do you know what this food that looks like ginger is?
It is a turmeric (Japanese name: ukon), which is known as a familiar spice used for everybody’s favorite curries.

In Okinawa, it has been cultivated since a long time ago and is called “ucchin” in mainland Okinawa, “ukyan” in Miyako Island, and “ukin” in Ishigaki Island and Amami Islands. 

It is in season from January to February, and you can find it in markets.  Dried turmeric are available all year around, but turmeric sold in this season is characteristically fresh and lush.

(Flat Plate by Mr. Katsushi Shimabukuro)

The appearance of turmeric looks like ginger, but if you look at the cross section, it is yellow-orange color.

Turmeric has been used for medicinal purposes for a long time.  For liver ailment, it is said that ground turmeric root is dried and brewed for drinking.  They say that to drink the turmeric powder is good when you have a weak stomach or when you have a low appetite. 

In addition, it is used for dyeing as natural botanical dyestuff.

(Flat Plate by Mr. Katsushi Shimabukuro and Small Dish by Tatsuya Morinaga)

Turmeric is famous as a spice for curries, but I was surprised to know that yellow takuan (pickled radish) is colored with turmeric!

In my house, we use turmeric powder for different dishes, for example, to put into bean-starch vermicelli soup, to cook with Basmati rice, and to make marinade of boiled cauliflower with olive oil, salt, and vinegar.  

When you want to add some color to your meal, turmeric powder is easier for children to take than curry powder because it is less hot.

As an ingredient for putting yourself on a diet, I would like everybody to pay more attention to turmeric and use it frequently, so I would like to introduce a recipe of “Ucchin Tashiyaame”!

“Tashiyaame” is an Okinawan word meaning “fried rice.”
To stir-fry noodles or rice, people in Okinawa say “tashiyaa.”  You might have heard an Okinawan local cuisine called “Somen Tashiya (Stir-fried Noodle).”

 (Wooden Spoon by Kobo Nuriton & Plate by Mr. Yoshiriki Yamada)

It is easy to cook.  Just add chopped turmeric and turmeric powder to usual ingredients for fried rice, and stir-fry all together.
When you have some leftover rice and flavoring vegetables, you can cook at any time.

【Ingredients】(For Two Servings)

・1 piece of Turmeric 
・1 teaspoon of Turmeric Powder 
・1 piece of Garlic          
・Half a Carrot     
・A quarter of Onion     
・A bunch of Pakuchii (fresh coriander)  
・Two rice bowls of Rice                           
・Salt & Pepper  As much as you please
・A round of Nam Pla
・Sesame Oil  Some drops

This time I used the above ingredients.  The golden color of turmeric increases your appetite.

Pleasant aroma of the food and the flavor of pakuchii and nam pla makes a perfect golden balance.  If you like, first you can fry cumin seeds well with oil, so you have more ethnic aroma and tastes even better.

If you want to make it mellow, you can use lard instead of sesame oil, or add pork back ribs.  Using your imagination to try different ingredients.   

(Plate by Mr. Yoshiriki Yamada)

In Okinawa, there are many ingredients which help to maintain bodily functions.
Making use of each property of each ingredient, you can add the ingredient to your usual meal little by little.
Such a little attention to your meals brings you “Nuchigusui (an Okinawan proverb meaning “Food is medicine”).”

My journey to find unknown ingredients of Okinawa seems to continue more.

Shooting studio & Styling: Gallery Haraiso

Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer  monobox (Tetsumasa & Kozue Kono)