May 13, 2018
By Tsubasa Ota, Kyoka Azuma, Hiroto Takao
Representative meat in Kyoto: Tannbagyu
The history of meat in Kyoto is quite old. The first reference to Kyoto beef is over 700 years ago. It is marked as tannbagyu by the oldest “book of meat” which was written in 1310. “Tannba” is northern part of Kyoto, and gyu is Japanese for beef. First of all, it is a brand of meat in Kyoto, so all of the cows in Kyoto cannot become Tannbagyu. There are many conditions. Tannbagyu have to be taken care of with professional skills, raised in an environment abundant with nature and drink the clearest water. In 2017, it won an award at the meat industry festival in Tokyo, so it is the one of the most famous brands of meat in Japan for sure. It is said that the rich taste of tannbagyu was enjoyed as long ago as the Heian Period (794 – 1185) by aristocrats. In the Jomon and Yayoi Era Japanese people did eat meat. However, in 675 A.D., Emperor Tenmu prohibited all Japanese from eating meat. This ban was reinforced by succeeding emperors and become a strong taboo, connected to the Buddhist religion. The ban was eventually lifted and in the Meiji Era, Japanese people began to eat meat again.Some of the characteristics of the tannbagyu are really good texture, perfect marbling and fine fiber. These characteristics make tannbagyu much better than other meats among the wide variety of meats in Japan. Furthermore, tannbagyu cows are living in very comfortable locations. For example, they are always waking up listening to cries of birds and sleeping while listening the sou nds of birds, so they are taken care of without any stress. By enjoying a natural life, the flavor and texture of their meat is enhanced.
Japanese traditional meat food : Sukiyaki
It is said that Japanese people first enjoyed meat in a dish called sukiyaki which originated from the Edo Period (1603 – 1868). Sukiyaki is kind of Japanese hot pot and a really popular traditional cuisine. One particular feature of the dish is its sweet broth. When we make sukiyaki, we use sugar in the stock, which also contains mirin, a rice wine, and soy sauce. We cook sliced beef and vegetables in sukiyaki broth. We also add tofu, mushrooms and clear noodles. We usually eat sukiyaki for special events such as someone`s birthday, payday, New Year’s day and so on. Sukiyaki is a festive dish and expensive to make because of the high quality beef.In 1870, the first sukiyaki restaurant opened in Tokyo, at the same time a location opened in Kyoto as well. They used tannbagyu in sukiyaki. Then, a bunch of people who ate sukiyaki in Kyoto were fascinated. There are slight differences between the Tokyo and Kyoto versions of the popular dish. In Tokyo, they simmer beef and vegetables at the same time. On the other hand, in Kyoto, we simmer beef first and then add vegetables. This is just a slight difference, but when you eat and compare, you might be able to distinguish how different they are.The image of Japanese dishes is often low fat and very simple. However, meat dishes are also popular and easy to procure in Kyoto, which is city far from the sea. Simple Japanese dishes such as rice balls, miso soup and bowls of noodles are plain next to the excitement of a rich, sweet, aromatic pot of sukiyaki, served on festive occasions. Although it is sometimes prepared at home, there are many restaurants in Kyoto that specialize in sukiyaki. Many others feature yakiniku, Korean style grilled beef served with rich, sweet, or spicy sauces.
Kyoto dishes other than Sukiyaki
Kyoto’s cow is now used not only for sukiyaki but also for many other specialties in Kyoto. In Kyoto, consumption of beef is ranked highest in the whole country. This was surprising. In addition, Kyoto Prefecture is ranked highest in the country, for bread consumption. It is said that this is related to the personality and temperament of people who live in Kyoto. One of the famous Kyoto dishes is the sandwich. The most popular of Kyoto’s sandwiches is the egg sandwich, but another one is the beef sandwich, made of cutlets garnished with ketchup on white bread. Furthermore, since coffee goes well with a beef sandwich, Kytoto’s consumption of coffee is also ranked highest in the country. Surprisingly, the purchase ranking of tea is low, at 40th of Japan’s 47 prefectures.Kyoto’s beef cutlet is called “Kyoto katsugyu”. The beef katsu, or cutlet, is cooked medium rare, so that the meat is tender. It is usually served with wasabi soy sauce. Kyoto kasugyu is spreading in popularity nationwide, and there are already 10 restaurants in the Tokyo area, and in Korea. Soon, this dish may spread around the world.
There are several kinds of meat in Kyoto.
Besides Tamba beef, Kyoto has various kinds of meat. Most of them are Kuroge Wagyu cattle. They are “Kyoto gyu”,”Kyo no niku”,”Tanba gyu”,Kameoka gyu”, “Kyo tanguro gyu”. Although Kyoto’s cattle, especially Tamba cows, have a long tradition, they are overshadowed by more famous neighbors. Kyoto cattle farms are sandwiched between Hyogo prefecture and Shiga prefecture, which are both famous for producing specialty beef. So, we named the high-grade meat produced and raised in Kyoto Prefecture as “Kyoto meat” and sold it as a brand of Kyoto. Breeding is mainly carried out in the Nantan area of Kameoka City, Nantan City, and Kyotanba Town. After fattening at each farm, butchering, packaging and processing of the beef is done in Kyoto city.The history and circumstances of the meat in Kyoto is especially deep. We have continued to raise cows and environment to take care of them from 1310 until now, but until now, we have been changing how to cook them and eat them. Of course, sukiyaki is not only the way to eat tannbagyu. We have a lot of cuisine using tannbagyu in these days. tannbagyu has been made by a variety of dishes. Each dish has a particular advantage when it comes to reminding everyone of tradition. There are many brands of meat in Kyoto, not only the historic tambagyu. In conclusion, the meat in Kyoto has long history and it has been handed down until today. Kyoto meat is soul food for people in Kyoto.