Tourists are attracted from all over the country to Hokkaido’s rich variety of fresh fish and processed seafood. This delicious bounty includes crab, scallops, sea urchins, salmon roe, salmon, herring, flounder, cod, arabesque greenlings, squid, octopus, shrimp, abalone, surf clams and kelp. Harvested from the northern seas, these seafood products have exquisite taste and flavor, and are rated among the best of their type. The crab in particular is exceptional. Depending on the season and location, you can enjoy Queen crab, Horsehair crab, Red king crab or Blue king crab. When in season, they are heavy for their size and rich in flavor whether boiled in brine or prepared as sashimi. The sea urchins feed on kelp and the sashimi is so delicious you must try it at least once. You will not find such rich and mellow sweetness anywhere but in Hokkaido. We recommend visiting one of the markets where you can eat fresh food on the spot. There are restaurants that provide reasonably priced samples of unique seafood, such as donburimeshi or a bowl of rice topped with a generous amount of sea urchins, salmon roe or scallops.
Ishikari-nabe is a typical dish of Hokkaido, making use of fresh salmon from head to tail. The name comes from the Ishikari-gawa River, famed for its salmon catch, and the same dish is known as tokachi-nabe in the Obihiro area. Chunks of salmon are stewed with vegetables, tofu and konnyaku (devil’s tongue) in kelp stock flavored with miso. Locally produced potatoes and cabbage add to the delicious flavor of this hearty dish, so you can indulge in the tastes of Hokkaido from both the sea and the land. The origin of ishikari-nabe is a salmon and vegetable stew cooked by the Ainu people in the 17-18th centuries, with miso introduced with the arrival of Japanese people from the south.
Genghis Khan (barbecued mutton)
The Genghis Khan nabe (pot) is a special helmet-shaped pan made from cast iron. It is also a dish in which thinly sliced mutton and vegetables (bean sprouts, cabbage and pumpkin) are basted and roasted. Perhaps its name stems from being a favorite of Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empire. Or perhaps it stems from Mongolian soldiers roasting mutton in their warrior helmets. Whichever the case, this dish is renowned for its hearty taste and unique rustic flavor. Many restaurants around Hokkaido specialize in Genghis Khan nabe and it is very popular at large beer parlors such as the Sapporo Bier Garten and Kirin Beer Garden, which are always crowded with tourists.