How to Make your Own Oyaki

Oyaki are traditionally cooked over an Irori hearth.

Oyaki are one of Nagano’s traditional foods and most delicious snacks. Like Soba, they have been an important part of local cuisine for thousands of years. In rice-scarce Nagano, these flour buns filled with pickles and veggies were an important source of carbs and protein. Now, they’re healthy and delicious snacks that can be found in specialty shops and food stalls throughout Nagano prefecture.

Ogawa-mura near Nagano city is particularly famous for its oyaki, and customers can try making them for themselves there or at Ogawa no Sho in Nagano city. It’s conveniently located in Patio Daimon on the way to Zenkoji. If you can’t make the journey to Nagano, or Japan for that matter, I’ve included a recipe for making this Nagano treat so you can recreate it in your own home!

Making Traditional Oyaki at Ogawa no Sho

Oyaki are usually steamed these days, but they were traditionally charred and cooked in the ash of an open fire. Ogawa no Sho is one of the few places where you can enjoy the flavor of char-grilled oyaki and the warmth of a traditional irori hearth. Guests sit around the fireplace on tree trunk stools and watch as oyaki after oyaki are grilled in front of them. Favorites include Nozawana, Miso and Eggplant, Shimeji mushroom and Unohana. For 540 yen, you can make two of your own oyaki and enjoy complimentary tea and miso soup.

Master Nishiyama-san will show you how to make a perfect oyaki.

My Oyaki Sensei was Nishiyama-san. She was very helpful and showed me all the steps that go into making a perfectly round oyaki. Here at their store they have a motto: “Round Oyaki, Round Hearts.” I think that’s a good thing, whatever it means. We each made two, one filled with nozawana pickles and another one filled with sweet azuki beans. The Azuki beans were a bit easier to stuff into the dough and shape, but they also have a habit of exploding out of the bun as the cook, so don’t put in too much!

Each workshop comes with two oyaki. Nozawana on the left, Azuki on the right.

Eggplant Miso Oyaki Recipe

Oyaki can be easily made with a frying pan and lid.

For those of you who have visited or lived in Nagano and are missing the taste of Shinshu, or for those of you who are interested in trying to make some traditional Japanese foods, I’ve included a recipe for oyaki that you can make in your very own homes.

There are many ways to cook oyaki: char-grilling, steaming, pan-frying then steaming, steaming then pan-frying, or even deep-frying. You can experiment to your heart’s desire. The fillings as well can be anything you like, but try this recipe first for a traditional Nagano flavor.

Ingredients

Dough:

Filling:

*200g of all-purpose flour is also fine.
†If you can’t find mentsuyu, replace with 1tbsp soy sauce and a bit of dashi fish stock.

Directions

Dough:

Filling:

Putting it together:

Dig in!

Delicious, even when made from scratch by me.

Oyaki is one of Nagano’s delicious traditional foodstuffs, and it’s surprisingly easy to make them yourself. There are so many ways to make them and so many fillings to try (apple cinnamon, anyone?) that you’ll never get bored experimenting with new flavors or recipes.

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