Despite being the biggest city in Kyushu, Fukuoka is blessed with nature’s bounty. The city is known for its delicious dishes, but the secret lies with its fresh local ingredients. While it may be hard to imagine from the building-lined streets of the city center, there are many rice paddies and fields within the city limits where many different kinds of produce are grown. If you look, you will surely find plots of farmland in residential areas, along roads and in some other unexpected places.
One of Fukuoka’s most famous vegetables, which is used regularly in winter hot pot, is shungiku, or chrysanthemum greens. People enjoy its unique aroma and flavor, and Hakata shungiku, which is grown within the city limits, is considered one of the more palatable varieties of the vegetable. Another local vegetable popular throughout Japan is the Hakata Banno Negi, a type of Welsh onion. Cultivated year-round, it is essential for seasoning soups and other dishes. A plethora of vegetables are grown in the city, including katsuona, a leafy green used in Hakata’s traditional New Year’s dishes and nutrient-rich broccoli.
As for fruits, one must not forget Fukuoka’s famous Amaou brand strawberry. An acronym for amai (sweet), marui (round), ōkii (big) and umai (delicious), Amaou strawberries are known for being large and oh so sweet. The strawberry is so delicious that it became a nationwide hit soon after its inception, and Amaou are now even exported overseas. Fukuoka is also home to many citrus fruits, and one that has gained attention recently is the New Summer Orange, a specialty of Nokonoshima. With its refreshing flavor and mild acidity, it has quickly become another popular brand fruit.
Many products using ingredients from Fukuoka have also started to hit the shelves. Amaou Liqueur and Hakata Itamemon Sauce, a sauce made from irregular sized onions, are just two examples. There are several produce stands and morning markets where you can buy fresh produce, so why don’t you try some of Fukuoka’s delicious fruits and vegetables?
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn169, Jan. 2013)