[Nukamiso-Daki in Kitakyushu City, Kokura]
This time, we will introduce one of the local dishes in Kitakyushu City, Kokura, known as "nukamiso-daki."
Nukamiso-daki is a dish made by simmering filleted sardines or mackerel in a broth of soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), sugar, and adding nukamiso (fermented rice bran). The nukamiso mixture contains extracts from vegetables that accumulate with each batch of nukazuke (vegetables pickled in rice bran), which imparts a unique umami flavor through fermentation, penetrating the fish along with nutrients.
In Kitakyushu City, it is often referred to as "Nuka-daki," and it's known as a specialty of Kokura. In the bustling market of Tanga Market in Kitakyushu, several Nuka-daki shops line up, each using their own nukamiso passed down through generations. It is also prepared as a home-cooked meal, and it's not uncommon for households to have "nuka" (rice bran) that's been aged for over a hundred years. Nuka-daki is served alongside rice without any washing since it's been simmered thoroughly, making even the bones tender and edible.
Nukamiso-daki is a regional dish with roots dating back to the Edo period in Buzen Province. The practice of pickling vegetables in nukamiso, which was originally a preserved food of the Kokura domain, spread to local households. Due to its high nutritional value and good preservation, it was even used during wartime. The former lord of Kokura, Ogasawara, gave it the name "jinda-ni" (meaning "raising camp") as a reference to setting up camp for battle. This is why it's sometimes still called "jinda-ni." Just as different domains had their own cultures, Nukamiso-daki represents Kitakyushu's unique culinary culture that was passed down within the Kokura castle town.
One distinctive feature of Kokura's nukazuke is the inclusion of Japanese pepper (sansho), adding a refreshing spiciness to the dish. This slightly spicy nukamiso-daki pairs well not only with rice but also as a side dish for sake. Besides sardines and mackerel, depending on the shop, there are variations such as spicy seasoning, sanma (Pacific saury), chirimen (baby sardines), bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, chicken, eggs, konnyaku (konjac), and more. Using nuka-doko for cooking is quite rare across Japan, so we hope you get to enjoy the traditional taste of Kitakyushu.
As summer ends and you start seeing "new rice" signs, why not try nukamiso-daki? If you have nuka at home, you can certainly give it a try.