Horse Meat Cuisine

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Although many international visitors can find it strange or off-putting, horse-meat is regularly eaten in Japan. It is a well-known izakaya and bar staple, and there are even a few places in the country that are famous just for their horse-meat. 

But here in the Hachinohe Area, there is a saying amongst the locals: “If you’re talking about horse meat, you have to be talking about Gonohe.’ The ~nohe-s (Hachinohe, Sannohe, Gonohe, etc.) were all originally well-known areas for horse-breeding and Gonohe, in particular, has retained this connection. In Gonohe, horse meat is found not just in specialty butchers but is also sold in supermarkets like regular meat. The meat is so integral to Gonohe’s culture it is said that it commonly graces the table of every family in town. 

The two most common dishes of horsemeat served across all of Japan undoubtedly are basashi, or raw sashimi-style horse meat, and horse meat stew. Both of these can, of course, be found in Gonohe but the meat is also used in everything from croquettes to shabu-shabu to a specialty dish called Yoshitsune-Nabe where the meat is grilled in a special helmet-resembling cast iron pan. 
 
Horse meat is low in calories, fat, and cholesterol while being high in protein and other nutrients, making it a healthier meat option when compared to the more common pork or beef. But perhaps the best reason to try this local specialty is that it simply tastes delicious. 

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