Saturday, February 11, 2012
Odd Bedfellows on a Plate – Part 2
As I mentioned in the first part of this article back in December, Japanese food isn’t just about the sushi.
Or the fugu.
There’s a whole lot more, starting with the biggest meal of all – that consumed by... the sumo.
Sumo is one of Japan’s more internationally famous sports, probably because the spectacle of two exceptionally plump men – in a nation of exceptionally skinny people – wrestling one another, clad only in loin-cloths is, well, fascinating.
Sumo wrestlers would be nothing without their diet, though we do dangle the word “diet” here in an ironic sense.
Chanko-nabe is the food of the sumo. It’s a huge, simmering hot-pot that is chock-full of meat, fish and vegetables, best mixed with soy sauce, but sometimes also blended with mirin, miso, sake, and dashi stock (shavings of dried skipjack tuna mixed with edible kelp).
Leftover broth is often then consumed with a hefty plate of noodles.
It’s as highly nutritious in protein as it is gut busting, and is the principle dish gorged by sumo wrestlers to extend their hefty waistlines and add to already-impressive girths.
Some wrestlers enjoy the concoction so much that they quit the ring and instead become the chanko-cho, or chief chanko chef, for their wrestling stables, and eventually open their own restaurants – often with sumo memorabilia from their workhorse days adorning the walls.
READ MORE @ FORCES OF GEEK, with commentary from Japanese DJ/producers DJ Wada, Jin Hiyama & Lili Hirakawa.