A well kept secret in the surfing world is Japan’s Okinawan region. In addition to having great breaks, Okinawa offers a unique an awesome cuisine that is well suited for surfers. The kingdom of Okinawa was incorporated into Japan just over a century ago, and the southern islands still maintain a distinctive culture, language, and cuisine. Okinawan cooking tends toward stronger and spicier flavours than other Japanese food, and is more heavily influenced by Chinese cooking styles. The food of Okinawa is very much a meat-based cuisine, and pork is the most popular. Other ingredients include native tropical vegetables and fruits. Goya, also known as bitter melon, is widely used, and it’s common to see peanut tofu and pickled papaya and shallots on menus. Brown sugar and awamori
(an Okinawan brandy-like liquor made from rice) are used in cooking along with soy sauce and miso (fermented soybeans). Awamori is a delicious, and tastes like a sweet Canadian rye, but a little smoother. It is usually served straight or over ice, and would make a great apres surf drink. Kooreegusu is a condiment made from red peppers marinated in awamori. (Source: Bento.com). Post World War II Okinawan cuisine has largely been influenced by the American military presence, and as such there is a type of fusion going on, particularly with the dish Taco Rice. As the name suggests, Taco Rice is typical taco toppings, served over rice. I first tried Taco Rice in Vancouver and was instantly taken aback by how great it tasted, and how natural this combination seemed.