The Hachinohe Area seems to have a new food to try whenever you turn a corner or look in a different direction. Seafood, grains, vegetables, fruits, and alcohol, you can have an entire meal from start to finish that is made up of local ingredients produced right in the area.
But when talking about local food, there is a star-favorite category for many of the people in Hachinohe: meat. The Hachinohe Area is known for producing not just one but three different types of meat. ‘The big four’, as they are often called by locals are Takko’s Takko wagyu beef, Gonohe’s Aomori Kuraishi beef, Gonohe’s Gonohe horse meat, and Gonohe’s Shamorock Chicken.
When talking about any of these, a gleam in the eyes of many people from the area can be seen, and the conversation begins to grow more animated. More than pride, this change is brought on by a subtle but sudden yearning. For once you tasted one of these meats, it will quickly change your standards of what good meat is.
Below are details about each of the ‘big four’. While in the Hachinohe area we highly recommend trying one if not all of these amazing breeds of meat!
Aomori Kuraishi Beef
One of Aomori’s most famous brands of beef is Gonohe’s very own Aomori Kuraishi Beef. With a long history of winning awards outside and inside the prefecture, the beef has gained increasing fame as one of Japan’s top Black-Haired Beef brands. In 2008, it was awarded the highest honors at the national beef competition in Japan. The simply exquisite meat features melt-in-your-mouth marbling which is developed thanks to the idyllic countryside pastures in which the cows are raised. The deep richness of the fat and the ruby redness of the meat create a feast for the eyes as well as attest to the sumptuous flavor that awaits those lucky enough to get their hands on this much sought-after meat.
Horse Meat Cuisine
Horse meat is famous in various places in Japan, but here in the Hachinohe area people say ‘If you are talking about horse meat, you have to be talking about Gonohe’. Horse meat is commonly referred to as sakura-niku or cherry blossom meat because the beautiful redness of the meat is said to resemble that of cherry blossoms. The meat is so popular in Gonohe its found not only at specialty butchers but is sold in regular supermarkets as well. It is said that it graces the table of every family table in Gonohe.
Common dishes in Japan that utilize horse meat are special dishes of horse stew and horse sashimi, but in Gonohe the meat is used in common everyday dishes as well. Some local favorites include grilling the meat in a shallow dish resembling a helmet called ‘Yoshitsune-Nabe’ and horse shabu-shabu. Horse meat is low in calories, fat, and cholesterol, while being high in protein and other nutrients, making it prized as a healthy and delicious meat.
Aomori Shamorock Chicken
The Aomori Shamorock Chicken was hatched as an original chicken breed in 1990. The chicken breed was developed by the former livestock research institute in Gonohe, a town that already had a long history of chicken breading. The effort took 20 years to develop.
The Shamorock chicken was developed by combining the ‘Plymouth Rock’ breed, known for its high-quality meat, and the Aomori native ‘Shamo’ breed, which is known for its fine and great-textured meat. The newly developed ‘Shamorock’ chicken inherited the best traits from both its parents, becoming a great tasting chicken in every aspect.
To protect the quality and ensure the integrity of the breed, the ‘Aomori Specialty Product Shamorock Chicken Brand Promotional Committee’ was established, and only approved chicken farmers are allowed to rear this breed. Taking twice as long as most broiler chickens to raise, the chickens are said to have a superior concentrated ‘chicken’ flavor that allows one to experience the truest and most delicious chicken flavor possible.