“Dodomese” is a local dish from Bizenfukuoka, an area that was known in medieval times as the greatest merchant city in Japan (particularly during the Kamakura and Muromachi periods), and it had deep relations with military commanders such as Kuroda and Ukita during the Sengoku period (1467-1603).
The history of the dish goes all the way back to the Kamakura period (1185–1333), a time before vinegar was known in Japan. At that time, mixed rice was prepared daily for the ferrymen of the flatboats that sailed the Yoshii River (a class A river in Okayama). One day, as the story goes, a drunken warrior requested some mixed rice, but was told that they only had enough for the ferrymen. He got angry and apparently emptied a bottle of doburoku (a type of unfiltered sake made by fermenting rice, rice-malt and water) that had turned sour into the mixed rice pot. The ferrymen ate the dish anyway, but were overjoyed at how delicious it was. From that point on, they started to add dobukuro that had turned sour in with the mixed rice, and the name “dobukuromeshi” (‘dobukuro rice’) got changed into “dodomese“.
Over time, however, the name dodomese was completely forgotten. Then in 1989 a group of local women revived it, and an udon shop from the same region refined the recipe and commercialized it. Currently, the Ichimonji udon shop is the only place where you can get dodomese.
To make dodomese, first the rice and other ingredients are cooked in the prided Ichimonji Udon dashi broth.
This kind of dish is apparently called “nikomi zushi” (‘boiled sushi’).
After the rice has been cooked, a mixture of vinegar and other seasonings is poured in and mixed well with the ingredients. As sour dobukuro cannot be obtained nowadays, the dobukuro is used when boiling the rice to bring out the dobukuro fragrance. After the vinegar mixture has been mixed in with the cooked rice, comes the part which is the most different from normal chirashizushi (sushi rice with various ingredients sprinkled on top of it), which is that the rice is steamed for some time. The dashi and the fragrance with a slight acidity to it whet the appetite.
With a myriad of ingredients such as shrimp, chicken, taro, shitake mushroom, great burdock, carrot, fish-paste cake, dried gourd and julienned strips of omelet, the appearance of the dish is colorful.
The special characteristic of dodomese is that the flavor of the dashi soaks well into the rice, as well as some of its color. The superb balance of the mixed rice and vinegar results in a deep, good flavor.
Eating a local dish with history at its place of birth, this is the real pleasure of traveling.
However, for those who would like to try the dish, but are unable to visit the actual place, it’s also purchasable via online shopping.
In addition to the dodomese, the shop also sells rice balls and boxed lunches.
Location: 1588-1 Fukuoka, Osafune-cho, Setouchi city, Okayama prefecture
Closed: Wednesdays and every 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month
Setouchi Finder Photo-writers: Katsutoshi Asai / Asami Asai (Kokohore Japan)
Katsutoshi Asai Producer and member of the Setouchi Regional Revitalization Association. Born in Yokohama in 1974, Katsutoshi is married and has a young son. Although he started his career with an advertising agency, he went to join the Tower Records team. Katsutoshi was involved with brand management, sales campaigns, collaboration work, and live events. Through his career, he experienced being the Sales Promotion Manager, and the Manager of the Live Entertainment Department. However, in 2012, Katsuyoshi retired from Tower Records and moved to Seto city, Okayama prefecture - a place where he had no prior friends, connections or relatives. Soon after moving, he joined the Setouchi Regional Revitalization Association, and in July 2013 founded Kokohore Japan and began a number of projects to re-task old traditional buildings, invent new specialty products, and work on regional branding. Website: Kokohore Japan http://kkhr.jp/ Asami Asai Editor & Writer I mainly write about social news, music, and lifestyles. I was born and raised in Tokyo, but in 2012 I decided on a whim to move to Setouchi City, Okayama Prefecture. I contribute to magazines such as Liniere, Inakagurashi no Hon, and ku:nel. I publish books for my 'interesting' friends, too, and direct and write for programs at FM Okayama. Everyday I write about people and things for both readers and listeners. Website: Kokohore Japan http://kkhr.jp/
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