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Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pork - The Favored Meat of Okinawan Cooks

Since today is Monday its Okinawan food day so let’s start out with that most basic of Okinawan staples pork! It is often heard in Okinawa that the only part of a pig that an Okinawan won’t eat is the “Oink.” I actually think some Okinawans enjoy the oink too. Although, maybe only with a little awamori on the side. In Okinawa the word meat has always been the equivalent to pork. It is the most important ingredient in Okinawan Cookery. Literally everything is usable to the Okinawan cook even the ears, feet, blood, and internal organs. Pork in Okinawa is cooked in a variety of ways but is commonly cooked with daikon radish, vegetables, kelp, dried gourd shavings, and even Chinese bamboo shoots.
The Market in Heiwa Dori
Butcher shops in Okinawa sell pork that sharply contrasts the pork commonly sold in mainland Japan. Many people shop for pork at the marketplace on Heiwa Street in Naha where there are rows of various butcher shops selling the best cuts of pork. First time visitors to the market will more than likely be astounded by the sight of huge chunks of pork on display in the shop windows. Entrails are also out on display as any part can be precisely cut for the customer to use in a wide variety of Okinawan pork dishes.
Nakajinagu - (Island Pig)
Pork in Okinawa originated from China and seemed almost tailor made for the tiny island nation. Okinawa had very little grazing land so it could not support cattle but the pigs were another story as they have thrived on Okinawa for hundreds of years. Compared to cattle pigs were quite easy to raise and could be kept on relatively small areas of land. However, during World War II the population of pigs was desimated in the heavy fighting and Uchinanchu people who had emmigrated to Hawaii realizing the grave food shortage after the war set sail to deliver new stocks of island pigs. Thanks to their efforts the islanders were able to once again establish a sustainable food source on the islands. Here is a short film from an old japanese TV show telling about the Island pigs today and the wonderful food source they provide.

Some Favorite Okinawan Pork Dishes Include
Rafute a dish once reserved for royalty and visiting dignitaries, now everyone enjoys this sort of simmered pork belly.
San-mai-niku which literally translates to meat with three layers is a type of stewed pork belly that is also very popular.
Soki are pork short ribs that are marinated in soy sauce and brown sugar then simmered until extremely tender.
Ashitebichi is a dish of Okinawan style pigs’ feet where the feet are simmered for hours until the meat is literally falling off of the bone.
Nakami translates to “inner meat” and consists of the hog maw and chitlins (stomach and intestines).
 Mimigaa are thin shavings of the pigs ear. It is served with a sauce of peanut butter, vinegar, miso, and a bit of mayonnaise.
The final dish I am going to mention is a bit strange to the western perspective. It is a dish called Chiraga. It is the face of the pig and is usually sold smoked so it can be enjoyed as if one were chewing jerky. It can also be sliced into strips and added to soup.

Yaasa Ru maasaru!
Okinawan Proverb - Food is delicious when one is hungry

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