Hokuriku Fermentation Tourism by Fermentation Designer Hiraku Ogura – Making “Black Squid”
Making black squid in Imizu City, Toyama Prefecture
And because of the prefecture’s propensity for delicate flavors, the region is known for its skill in processing ingredients.
Among the many high-level seafood dishes available in Toyama is “Kurozukuri,” which is made by adding squid ink to salted squid.
This glistening black fermented dish is a hidden gem among aficionados and contains within it a surprisingly deep history revealing Edo Period marketing tactics.
Imizu City, Toyama Prefecture
Taste that transcends local borders
Toyama black squid’s glossy sheen
Kurozukuri is a locally popular side dish that this writer found at a restaurant in Toyama by chance, but there are surprisingly few places that make it. Nevertheless, Kyokichi takes the dish’s roots seriously, and works tirelessly to keep the tradition alive.
The manufacturing method is very simple. Salted squid is mixed with plenty of squid ink that has been fermented and aged in a separate container and left to ferment for several days.
The fermentation lends a captivating texture to the final product, alongside deeper, more complex flavors.
It has a milder and deeper flavor than other salted squid dishes, and the umami and plumpness of the squid come forward over the saltiness. For this writer’s tastebuds, this traditional dish surpasses many other regional specialties.
And, of course, kurozukuri simply begs to be paired with sake.
Toyama’s sake, which is typically characterized by a moderate. light flavor, is just right for Kurozukuri. The two together certainly make for a heavenly combination.
Kurozukuri – a product of the Kaga clan’s branding
Kyokichi representative Mr. Kyotani
Specifically, It’s a product of the Kaga clan’s branding policy.
According to one of Kyokichi’s proprietors, a lover of history:
“At that time, the only place in Japan that accepted foreign cultures was Dejima, Nagasaki Prefecture, and the Kaga clan learned about seafood processing techniques through a visit there. Kurozukuri originated from the idea of making salted fish using squid ink, which had been unfamiliar in Japan until then.”
Given this explanation, this black salted fish dish may be connected to the squid ink culture of the Iberian Peninsula, where Portugal and Spain are located.
The Kaga clan, exhibiting uncanny business prowess in anticipating a boom in regional revitalization, breathed life into this unique dish that now transcends regional borders.
Hiraku Ogura is a fermentation designer and founder of Hakko Labo in Japan. With a background in fermentation science, he authored "Hakko Bunka Jinruigaku" to explore the cultural roots of Japan through the micro fermentation world. His innovative work pushes the boundaries of traditional knowledge in this ancient practice.