Introducing Japan: Kobe City, Octopus Capital of Japan
Dr. Marco Pellitteri
Kobe, together with its environs, is well
known for a lively seafood industry, which
boasts the largest production of octopus (tako)
in Japan. Akashi-dako is a local octopus,
uniquely named for its short, chewy tentacles,
harvested in the Akashi port and along the
coast of Hyogo Prefecture, of which Kobe is
the capital city. Akashi-dako is representative
of the local seafood cuisine that I enjoy.
Kobe and its surrounding fishing ports remind
me of my hometown in Sicily, located in the
southern part of Italy where local seafood is considered to be among the best in the country as well as across the entire Mediterranean
region. We eat a variety of fish, shellfish, octopus and other seafoods as much as the
Japanese people do, although we rarely eat them raw.
Akashi-dako at local seafood market Akashi-Yaki
It is always interesting to find differences
between the Japanese way and our way of
preparing seafood. One such example is Akashi-yaki. It is an egg-based dumpling with chopped Akashi-dako octopus inside and served with a specially seasoned soup (dashi) for dipping. It is one of the unique seafood
delights of this area. Loved by the locals as
a mouthwatering dish, Akashi-yaki of course
requires dexterous maneuvering of one’s chopsticks to eat!
My Japanese friends and acquaintances are shocked when they see how much I know
about fish and the sea, and how skillful I am in cleaning and eating fish. They thought Japan had somewhat of a “monopoly” on seafood culture. I’ve shown them that Sicilians are a little bit akin to people in Kansai (Osaka-Kobe area)!