When the cold weather comes, many of us start to crave nabemono, or hot pot dishes. Hakata’s most famous nabemono are mizutaki (chicken hot pot) and motsunabe (tripe hot pot). Mizutaki dates back to the Meiji period, when it was mostly made at home, with each family having its own recipe. Meanwhile, motsunabe, which originated in the early Showa period, did not gain popularity until relatively recently.
Mizutaki began as a fusion of Chinese and Western cuisines. In 1897, a man from Nagasaki called Heizaburo Hayashida traveled to Hong Kong to study western cuisine at the home of an English host family. There, he learned to make consommé, a Western staple, and combined this with Chinese-style boiled chicken to create the mild soup that is now known and loved as mizutaki. In 1905, Hayashida opened his first mizutaki restaurant, Suigetsu, which is still in operation to this day.
Motsunabe was first made by Korean coal miners and was also called horumon nabe. The word horumon is derived from the Hakata dialect phrase hōru mon, or “throw away parts”, in reference to the offal that was typically not eaten. After World War II, the practice of cooking tripe and chives in a soy sauce base gradually spread throughout Hakata. Now, you can enjoy motsunabe with miso or a whole range of flavors other than soy sauce.
Hakata being Hakata, a gateway to the Asian continent since olden times, it’s no surprise that both of these trademark dishes were influenced by foreign cultures. By the way, did you know that the standard finisher for motsunabe is champon noodles? Inspired by Chinese cuisine, champon is a variant of ramen that originated in Nagasaki. So, it just might be the case that mixing delicious foods from a variety of sources is the secret to cultivating a robust—and tasty—culinary culture.
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn206, Feb. 2016)