Iya, one of the three major mystical regions of Japan, lies deep in the mountains of the western-most region of Tokushima Prefecture. Though there is a marked difference in temperature between night and day, it is basically a cold region, which is ideal for growing cold-loving soba (buckwheat). As it has been grown here since time immemorial, the area now yields high-quality soba seeds.
Iya soba noodles are a typical example of the region’s gourmet cuisine, but there’s one other kind of soba dish that deserves to be introduced.
This is the sobamai porridge.
Sobamai is the seed that is left after the soba has been boiled and had its husk removed.
Cook sobamai with chicken, vegetables, aburaage (deep-fried tofu) and broth, and you get sobamai porridge. One theory has it that the origin of the dish can be found in the legends of the Taira clan slumbering in Iya. It alleges that in 1185, during the battle of Yashima between Genji and Taira, Taira soldiers fled the battlefield to Iya and made porridge using sobamai.
To research this article, we went to try out the sobamai porridge at Seiryu no Sobadokoro Iyabijin, a restaurant located near Kazurabashi bridge, the most famous tourist spot in Iya.
The porridge is served steaming hot in an iron pan.
Filled with sobamai, the soup has a mild flavor. While it’s great to eat as a regular meal, it’s also the perfect antidote for that nasty hangover or when you’re just not feeling too good.
Sobamai porridge is sold at many places around Iya, so go and try it out for yourself!
And for those of you that just can’t wait:
There’s easy-to-make instant sobamai porridge.
Made by freeze-drying, the porridge heats up wonderfully.
Just pour on hot water and leave for 90 seconds – your tastebuds will be traveling to Iya before you even know it!
It’s also sold online. Have a look!
Seiryu no Sobadokoro Iyabijin
Address: 9-3 Nishiiyayamamura Zentoku, Miyoshi City, Tokushima Prefecture
Open: 8:00～17:00 everyday
Setouchi Photo-writer: Daisuke Chiba
Daisuke Chiba / Photo-writer I was born in 1985 in Miyoshi City, Tokushima Prefecture, and now live in Tokushima City. After graduating university, I worked at a publishing company as an editor for various mooks, and in April 2014 I went freelance. I work as a photographer, copy-writer and editor, but also do product development and other stuff as well. If anyone needs me, I can do anything! Except, in spite of my being from Tokushima, dancing - I’m really bad at dancing Awa Odori!
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