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Simple, traditional dishes

Okinawan cuisine would not exist without pork, and it is said that Okinawans use every part of the pig except its squeal. In fact the use of various parts of the pig is a distinctive feature of the Okinawan diet, exemplified in such dishes as rafute, simmered pork belly with soy sauce or miso; soki, tender, simmered spareribs; mimigaa, shredded ear gristle; and chiragaa, pig’s face.
Okinawans eat literally every part of the pig, from head to toe. Pork provides a good source of protein, vitamin B1 and collagen. Cooking pork with ingredients such as konbu or simmering it for a long time removes excess fat from the meat. The innards of the pig are used in soup or are salted and processed into other products. Various parts of the pig are used as toppings for Okinawa soba as well. Tofu is also an essential ingredient in Okinawan cuisine. Champuru dishes such as goya champuru, for example, can be regarded as the essence of Okinawa. Champuru literally means “to mix,” and it can include many different ingredients including shima tofu (local tofu) and a variety of vegetables. Recipes vary by individual.

Goya champuru

A stir-fry of goya (bitter melon). Goya is a local vegetable with green skin and a bitter taste, and its best season is summer. Typical goya champuru includes goya, tofu, pork, eggs seasoned with salt and soy sauce.

Tofu champuru

Another popular type of champuru, a stir-fry with tofu and vegetables as the main ingredients. The tofu used for tofu champuru is shima tofu, a firm, local tofu ideal for stir-fry. It is seasoned with salt and soy sauce.

Jushi

Jushi is a rice dish prepared with a choice of ingredients including pork and vegetables and is often served as a side dish to Okinawa soba at local eateries. Fuchiba jushi is a kind of jushi that features fushiba, mugwort leaves in the Okinawan dialect.

Okinawa Soba

Okinawa soba is made from wheatflour. It is served in a bowl of hot broth (typically bonito or pork) with various toppings such as thick slices of tender pork, shavings of green onion, kamaboko (fish cake) and pickled shredded ginger.

Rafute

Another popular type of champuru, a stir-fry with tofu and vegetables as the main ingredients. The tofu used for tofu champuru is shima tofu, a firm, local tofu ideal for stir-fry. It is seasoned with salt and soy sauce.

Shima rakkyo (Okinawan shallots)

Pickled shima rakkyo and deep-fried shima rakkyo, commonly served in izakaya, are Okinawan favorites that are perfect accompaniments to awamori. Lightly pickled shima rakkyo is normally eaten with dried bonito flakes and soy sauce.