December 6, 2016


My father comes from Nagano (aka Shinshu). Like any other area in Japan, Shinshu has some wonderful local dishes, one of which is otoji. There are several variations of this local dish, and my father's version uses hiyamugi (wheat noodles thicker than somen and thinner than udon) rather than soba (buckwheat noodles) and uses soy sauce (and mirin) rather than miso.

I've been familiar with this local dish since childhood, but this is the very first time that I have made otoji.
Many hiyamugi products contain some noodles colored green and pink.
I wanted to arrange the boiled hiyamugi beautifully into individual coils, but I was just unable to.
The soup contains daikon, Chinese cabbage, carrot, abura age, naga negi, and three mushrooms (enoki, nameko, and shiitake), and is seasoned with instant dashi and soy sauce (no mirin, because my father doesn't like the soup to be sweetened).
To have otoji in a proper way, you need a wooden basket with a handle called toji kago. Surprisingly, I found that my father did not have a single toji kago!

So, the proper way to have otoji is like this: You put a coil of boiled hiyamugi in the toji kago, and dip the toji kago into the pot of soup for a while, transfer the hiyamugi to a bowl, and put some soup and some of the ingredients to the bowl.

These and other YouTube videos may clarify how to eat otoji properly:
Video 1
Video 2


Amy said...

This is such an amazing way to eat noodles! The noodles will be nice and hot when you eat them, but they won't absorb additional liquid by sitting in a bowl of hot broth. Plus the toji kago are so cute! I don't think I've gone looking for hiyamugi in the Japanese supermarkets around me, and I didn't know that hiyamugi could have additional colors - I'll have to look for them now!

Hiroyuki said...

Amy: You are quite an observer! I totally agree with your comment about otoji.

Yes, the toji kago are so cute I need to get some myself!

As for hiyamugi, for some reason (I really don't know why), hiyamugi has become less popular than somen. All my family except me prefer somen to hiyamugi...