September 27, 2012

Hokkaido's Star Turn at Mitsuwa Marketplace

I managed to sneak away to Edgewater, NJ, today to catch my first Mitsuwa Marketplace fair. Hokkaido-Ten opened  this morning and runs through Sunday, and it's unbelievably fun for anyone who loves looking at and tasting new and interesting foods. If you've ever been to the Japanese depachika, the gargantuan food-stuffed basement wonders where regional festivals or celebrations of seasonal delicacies abound, this will feel reassuringly familiar. 

Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, is famous for its beautiful scenery and seafood. So of course there was tons of it the latter, as well as many varieties of kamaboko (fish cakes), spicy things, unusual confections, and melon soft ice cream. 

These are slippery seafood and shellfish preparations, including combinations
 of herring roe and rapeseed plant, and engawa (a part of the scallop) and wasabi.
Loads of dried mackerel of all kinds, and in the center, a Hokkaido specialty,
horsehair crab.
An abundance of king crab, a lot of it over sushi rice. Here, sea urchin,
delicately shredded king crab and some superior salmon roe.
Pollock , cod, and salmon roe, any level of spiciness you want!

The fair is pretty kabocha-crazy, too, which made me happy.  These cakes are made from a mix of pumpkin and rice flour, so they are chewy like mochi. All were delicious but I was partial to the one on the left, flecked with black sesame and filled with a kabocha custard and bits of the steamed pumpkin itself.

More kabocha: a traditional red bean manju confection is steamed, enrobed in pumpkin paste, and then wrapped again in pie pastry shaped to resemble a kabocha pumpkin. Happy Fall! 

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