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 What's kusaya

Kusaya is one of the great tastes of the world.
It has riches given by the sea and the sunshine and has been a natural food for many years.

Kusaya, the traditional natural food
  Because of demand, Kusaya is hard to get in Tokyo and other major urban centers. It is generally
popular because of its storong taste and smell, but Kusaya has detractors, too, "Smells bad and looks
bad, too" they say.
  Well now, as lovers of Kusaya, it's hard to understand how anyone can say that. those who know 
how Kusaya is prepared will know that the fresh fish is washed in clean water over and over before dipping
in a salt dip and being laid out to dry in the sun. 

A flavor borne of adversity
  About 300 years ago, those Japanese citizens living in the Izu island chain, just south of Tokyo, were 
engaged in salt making. On many islands such as Niijima, the villagers toiled away drying salt to pay as tax 
to the Government. Taxes were high and they couldn't afford to waste a grain. But, ironically that meant
that when fishing catches were big, there wasn't enough salt to properly cure the fish before storage.
  Need is the mother of invention, and in this case, the villagers learned to use dips with a lower salt
concentration, until the fish cured in this fashion began to acquire a taste of its own.
  Such are the roots of Kusaya tradition.... saving salt and introducing a wonderful new taste.

Kusaya dip can't be made in a day
  The secret that gives the Kusaya its distinctive taste and smell is the salt dip the fish are cured with.
This mixture is called Kusaya-eki. For regular curing of fish, a dip having a salt content of 18 to 20% is
normal. But for Kusaya-eki, the concentration is a modest 8% 
  In terms of physical ingredients, only salt gose into the making of Kusaya-eki. But the taste is also a result
of other efforts. For example, the preparation of Kusaya-eki taste a long time, with the necessity of 
careful handling, and interior dips do not produce the same rich smell and deep flavor - a point that has
been proven in many tests.

Niijima is the home of Kusaya
  On Niijima every family maintains its own pot of Kusaya-eki.-often for generations. It becomes a source
of pride and the recipe is never allowed out of the house excpet when a daughter gets married. She takes
some with her, to start up her own pot. Amongst the commercial maker's, too, resipes of Kusaya dips 
are a jealously guarded secret.

Ksaya is made from shark or horse mackerel and
 we recommend that you compare the differences.

The reson why Niijima kusaya is excellent is that the things used to make it,such as the
kusaya dip, the processing facilities and the natural environment are of the best quality.
 
Niijima devotes its industries to Kusaya.
  With a proud tradition to live up to, much of the industry on Niijima is oriented around the harvest of 
  Kusaya. As the island moves further forward into the 1990's, the tradition will be maintained thanks too:
 * Plentiful supply of fresh fish 
 * Fast, bulk processing
 * Well-controlled time schedule for curing
 *Drying in natural sunshine and wind
 Niijima is Number One for Kusaya, and proud of it !

Natural conditions and modern facilities
  In addition to an ideal climate, Niijima's own high quality Kusaya is the result of:
 * The islands many pure water wells
 * The vast quantities of white sand, which become open drying fields during the season. Dust-free,these
  fields reflect the heat and dryt ness onto the fish, so that both sides of the fish cure at roughly the 
  same rate.
 * The island is flat, which makes air flow across the island very good.
 * The extensive facilities and equipment are kept cleaner due to the cleaner air.
 
"Intellectual property"
  The dip for curing Kusaya can last up to 300years. In some families, even the aged grandparents can't
  remember who prepared the initial dip. No where else do they keep it so long - and no where else do 
  the Kusaya taste so good ! We try to keep things that way, by realizing that the Kusaya dip is our
  livelihood and our tradition, and as such represents intellectual property.

It's easy to tell the difference
  You may think that something as natural and simple as genuine Niijima Kusaya is the result of the 
  particularly good quality of Ao-muro fish found near the island, and once you get started, you may want
  to put off making a decision until you've enjoyed more of that delicious taste.....


Niijima-kusaya gose well with cooked rice and/or sake .
We do hope you enjoy eating it.

Begin by grilling well
  The best way to taste the true flavor of the Kusaya is to grill it. Place the fish on a well-heated grill net,
  with the grill turned to low heat. The back of the fish should be cooked first and will take about 8 minutes.
  The front will take about 2 minutes. After finishing grilling, you should be able to tear the fish into portions
  with your fingers, and serve. One tip, if you brush vinegar on the grill net before cooking, it will be difficult
  to burn the fish.

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