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Mehari-zushi – A Local Specialty Loved for Ages

This video, titled "vlog|Making "Mehari-zushi," a local dish of Kumano" (vlog | 熊野の郷土料理「めはり寿司), was uploaded by "manospun kitchen and garden."
It introduces Mehari-zushi, a local specialty of Wakayama and Mie prefectures and how to make it.

Mehari-zushi is a historical local dish that has been handed down from generation to generation in Japan's Kumano region.
It is said to be one of the oldest "fast foods" in Japan, and this video will show you how it's made!
Follow along with the video and learn how to make this delicious recipe from the comfort of your own home!

More About Mehari-zushi, a Specialty of Japan's Kumano Region

Image of mehari-zushi, a local cuisine from Japan's Kumano Region
Photo:Mehari-zushi, a local cuisine from Japan's Kumano Region

The name "mehari-zushi," comes from the phrase "Me wo Miharu" (目を見張る), meaning "to open one's eyes wide."
This refers to the eye-popping expression made by people who see the size of the snack, one of the things that makes it unique.
Rather than sushi, it might be more fitting to refer to mehari-zushi as giant rice balls, or a type of onigiri.
The recipe is actually quite simple: pickle leaf mustard in salt and flavor it with a mixture of soy sauce, sake, and mirin (Japanese rice wine).
Mehari-zushi has also been designated as an excellent souvenir recommended by Wakayama Prefecture, and is a specialty product of Japan's Kumano region and the Yoshino region of Nara Prefecture.

Mehari-zushi bentos are sold in the Kumano region, and are often eaten by people working in the mountains or by farmers.
Cut-up pieces of leaf mustard are packed into the balls of rice as well, making it a very flavorful delicacy.

Mehari-zushi has been a local specialty for a long time, but it is now being sold in Ginza, Shinsaibashi, and other popular shopping areas in Tokyo and Osaka.
The pioneer of this trend is Sohonke Mehariya, established in 1962.
Sohonke Mehariya sells traditional Kumano specialty sushi from Wakayama Prefecture, and is famous nationwide for its mail-order and made-to-order services.

Mehari-zushi – A Snack of Many Names

Image of takana
Photo:Takana (leaf mustard)

The main ingredients for Mehari-zushi are white rice, takana (leaf mustard), soy sauce, sake, and mirin (Japanese rice wine).
When mehari-zushi was first being made, barley rice was used, but these days, white rice is the preferred choice.

In some places, sushi rice is used instead of white rice, giving each region its own unique characteristics.
It is simple to make, but you should keep in mind that it takes more than a week to pickle the mustard leaves, so it isn't exactly quick.
You can see how mehari-zushi is made starting at 0:35 in the video.

Mehari Sushi - Where to Try This Tasty Snack

Image of Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine, a World Heritage Site in Wakayama Prefecture
Photo:Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine, a World Heritage Site in Wakayama Prefecture

For those who find making it at home a little too difficult, you can still enjoy real mehari-zushi at restaurants in Japan.

In the vicinity of Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine and Kumano Kodo in Shingu, Wakayama, there are several restaurants that serve traditional mehari-zushi.
If you're looking to enjoy the authentic atmosphere where this Wakayama delicacy is made, we highly recommend a visit!

Summary of Mehari-zushi, a Local Specialty of Wakayama and Mie Prefectures

Mehari-zushi is said to be one of the oldest "fast foods" in Japan.
As you can see in the video, it's a simple recipe, but it's characterized by the time and effort it takes to pickle the mustard leaf, as well as the depth of flavor, making it the perfect sushi to bring with you when traveling.
Be sure to check out the video to learn how to make your own mehari-zushi!

Written By
Last Updated : Apr. 27, 2023
岡本 修(Shu Okamoto)
A writer fascinated by Japanese architecture. I'll introduce you to buildings and food in Japan!

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Mehari-zushi - A Local Dish of Mie and Wakayama Prefectures! Discover a Style of Sushi With a Long History of Home Cooking!
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