So you've made it to Niseko, checked into your accommodation in Hirafu village, already snuck in a couple of runs to get your feet back and now you've returned to your comfy apartment or chalet with one thing on your mind, delicious Japanese food! Hirafu has over the last decade cemented itself a place in the culinary guide books of the world and is home to Michelin starred restaurants such as Kamimura and crowd favourites such as Abucha, Ezo Seafoods, Rin, Tsubara Tsubara and many more. If there is one food we associate with Japan more than any though it is of course sushi, bite sized mouth watering seafood delights seasoned simply with soya sauce and spiced with wasabi.
If you are looking for an instant sushi fix to enjoy in the comfort of your home away from home a quick jaunt to the supermarket is an easy way to go. If you haven't already been to a supermarket in Japan you need to go! There are 3 main supermarkets in Kutchan which is the closest town to Hirafu Village Lucky, Co-Op and Max Valu the closest of the 3. The jury is out as to which chain has the best sushi but as a general shopping experience Lucky is a good bet.
So what are we actually eating here? Rest assured it is very unlikely you'll find a slice of marine mammal mixed in with your salmon or anywhere in the supermarket for that matter but if you are new to this it's good to know what you are about to feast upon! First things first is it sushi or sashimi? Above we have a fairly standard assortment of Sashimi. Below a box of Sushi.
The difference between the two is simple, sushi comes with rice and depending on the kind usually has a little wasabi hidden between the rice and the seafood. Sashimi is straight up, just the protein, no carbs and no additional flavours though it will often be served on a bed of daikon radish or as pictured above the very flavoursome leafy herb, Shiso.
So what is it that I'm gonna eat? Above is a typical supermarket assortment, containing the usual suspects, lets dive in. From left to right.
1. A sushi staple and one of the best known as Maguro in Japanese and tuna in English. It is usually blue or yellow fin tuna and it doesn't get much better than if dipped in wasabi and soya sauce.
2. Next up we have the good old fashioned non threatening salmon, not much explanation needed, it's delicious every time.
3. The next one will probably be the last one left on the plate, if you're with travellers because no one knows what it is and if you're with locals because no one wants to take the best bit! This delicious morsel is ikura or marinated salmon roe which is set a top of rice and wrapped in a skirt of nori or seaweed. Just imagine salty soya sauce bubbles popping between your teeth, this again is delicious!
4. Here we have the slightly more challenging crunchy textured Hokigai or surf clam, it looks a little strange but rest assured it is once again delicious!
5. By reputation this one is definitely tricky for some to to get their mouth around. It is of course the much demonised raw prawn. Ebi in Japanese you will find surprisingly sweet and pleasently textured, the tail you can leave.
6. This transperant beauty goes by the name of Ika, known to English speakers of course as squid. It has a similarly sweet flavour to Ebi but is a lot chewier with a certain delectable creaminess.
7. Next in the line up we have a salmon variation, aburri or seared salmon. The searing brings an extra richness that will have you reaching for the second bite.
8. In every platter you will usually find some kind of white fish often red snapper or tai in Japanese, in this case it is kare or flounder. White fish is usually a little chewier than the darker fleshes such as tuna but also brings an extra sweetness.
9. This sauce smothered morsel is eel and it is one of the rare sushi's that is always cooked. There are two kinds of eel used in sushi, unagi a freshwater eel or anago a saltwater eel, this one is anago and is lighter in appearance.
So there you have the full platter which I might add goes excellently with the beer above, Yebisu. Another point to mention when buying sushi from the supermarket is to look out for the complimentary soya sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger sachets. If you are interested in finding out more about getting to the supermarket from Hirafu or you have any other NIseko related questions please feel free to contact us anytime (email@example.com).