Tama-konnyaku, one of Yamagata Prefecture's specialties, is sold in the style of round konnyaku cooked in a large pot and served on skewers. When the good smell of soy sauce comes out of nowhere at local festivals, events, or tourist attractions, people in Yamagata Prefecture think, "Oh, they are selling tama-konnyaku." More than once or twice, I have had hot konnyaku soaked in soy sauce and dipped in a generous amount of mustard paste, and cried at the spiciness of the konnyaku. I have fond memories of buying konnyaku for my family at festivals and athletic meets, and carefully taking it home to eat with everyone. Tama-konnyaku is said to have originated at the Chitoseyama Konnyaku Store, established in 1929 at the foot of Chitoseyama, located on the east side of Yamagata City, and has been familiar to the people of the prefecture as if it were fast food.
Yamagata Prefecture's relationship with konjac goes back as far as the Heian period (794-1185). In 860, Jikaku Daishi Ennin built Hoshuzan Risshakuji Temple (commonly known as "Yamadera"), where he began using konjac that had fallen back from China for vegetarian cooking. It is said to have spread throughout the prefecture. Visitors to the main shrine of Yamadera have to climb 1015 steps to get to the temple, but before doing so, it is standard practice to eat tama-konnyaku as "chikara-konnyaku" at restaurants and stalls in the vicinity. It is also popular among tourists.
The other day I found some round konnyaku at the supermarket, so I tried boiling tama-konnyaku for the first time in a while. The recipe varies from household to household, such as frying konnyaku in a pot before simmering or adding squid, but I used a colander to drain the water from the pre-boiled konnyaku, and while the pot is hot, put the konnyaku back in the pot with the seasoning liquid made from soy sauce, mirin, sake and soup stock, then heat it and add enough water to cover the konnyaku. Adjust the heat and simmer over low heat, turning the konnyaku over from time to time, until the konnyaku is covered with water. If you have time, let the konnyaku cool down to allow the flavors to soak in even more.
Matsuyama Tokojo's Atatamenabe made of heat-resistant clay from Iga is excellent for keeping tama-konnyaku warm and tasty for a long time at the table after simmering. The gentle colors and lovely shape will surely add a touch of warmth to your dining table every day. Due to the rising cost of raw materials, the price will increase as soon as our stock runs out. There are only about 20 pieces left, so if you are considering ordering, please place your order before then.
Matsuyama Tokojo's Atatamenabe L