5 Must Try Foods and Snacks from Okinawa

Thought regular Japanese snacks are weird? You might want to think again because Okinawan foods and flavors are rather unique even by Japanese standards. Starting from the infamous goya champuru (bitter gourd stir fry) to purple sweet potatoes and brown sugar sweets, Okinawan foods are definitely a treat for adventurous gourmands. And while most of these dishes are hardly available outside of Japan, you can get your hands on a few Okinawan foods and snacks by ordering them online. Here’s what we recommend:

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  1. Mimiga Jerky

    Mimiga is a dish typically served in izakaya (Japanese pubs) to go with alcoholic drinks. It’s nothing else than seasoned and fried pig ear shavings – which might sound scary at first, but you’ll have to believe us when we say they taste amazing. Mimiga got so popular with the locals that they even started producing a jerky version of it so that people could just casually consume it on the go. Nowadays, mimiga jerky is one of the most popular Okinawan snacks – and we particularly recommend the spicy flavor.

  2. Chiraga Jerky

    Okinawan people really love their pork – and chiraga is another one of the many traditional dishes based on it. In its original form, chiraga is a smoked pig head with chewy, jerky-like meat and skin. It would have been a pity if they didn’t make it into a snack… oh wait, they did! Enter Chiraga Jerky, yet another meaty Okinawan snack that goes hand in hand with beer or other alcoholic drinks.

  3. Zenzai

    If you’re familiar with Japanese sweets, you might have heard of, or even tried zenzai before. It’s a sweet red bean soup or paste (depending on how you prepare it), which is usually served warm, with mochi rice cakes. However, Okinawans have a special method of serving it – over shaved ice! So, if you were looking for a really unique dessert to try this summer, give Okinawan zenzai a try.

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  5. Brown sugar candy

    Brown sugar is yet another popular Okinawan flavor – and you’ll find a lot of candy and confectioneries made with local produce. For instance, you could opt for some lemon, honey, and brown sugar throat lozenge if you want to keep the flu away during the cold season. Or, if you prefer a sweeter treat, try the brown sugar candy from Momotaro confectionery – guaranteed to last you for at least a year, since it comes in a 1kg bag.

  6. Agu curry

    Many Japanese prefectures are known for having their own recipes and styles of preparing curry rice – the ultimate Japanese comfort food. When it comes to Okinawa, their traditional curry is considered the Agu curry, made with locally grown Agu pork (a species of pig native to the Ryukyu islands.) This type of pork is just as highly rated as marbled beef, and some claim it can even be consumed raw. However, if you’re not that adventurous, Okinawan agu curry rice might be a good opportunity to try it.

As you can see, lots of Okinawan snacks and foods are very heavy on the meat, and particularly pork. Of course, you can also find vegetarian-friendly alternatives, like the zenzai, or goya and beni imo chips; however, if you are a meat eater, it would be a pity to pass on Okinawan jerky and Agu curry – they’re truly a delight!