Okinawa is a prefecture, or island, that is located in Japan. It is considered to be the largest island in population as well as in size. There are a number of islands that make up the Okinawa Prefecture. Some are famous for their beaches while others are known for their beautiful jungle atmosphere. The climate of Okinawa is hot, making it the perfect place to visit for those looking towards a tropical vacation.
Okinawan cuisine is extremely different from the cuisine normally served in Japan. Okinawa has a different climate and vegetation, which means that it is nothing like the food available on the mainland. Most people in Okinawa exist on whole grains and vegetables. Meat is served, but not extremely often. Of the meat that is served, Spam, Soki (a type of pork spare rib) and other pork meat are the favorites. Both white rice and brown rice are served, as well as noodles, but that is truly the only similarity between Japanese and Okinawan dishes.
One traditional dish is chanpurū. Chanpurū is a stir fry dish that is made in a number of different ways. Each way is slightly different, but each way has vegetables, tofu and a type of meat or fish in it. Sometimes pork belly is used as the meat, other times tuna is. One favorite is Gōyā chanpurū. This is made with a bitter melon (known as the gōyā melon), as well as other vegetables, tofu, Spam and bacon. Other chanpurū is made with pasta and eggs.
Okinawa soba is a dish that is so popular in Okinawa, it was named after the country. It is a noodle soup that is made using thick wheat noodles. The noodles are then topped with either scallion, pork belly, pork ribs, pickled ginger or a fish cake. Often diners add Korean pepper to the dish in order to spice it up. Okinawa soba can be found in almost any restaurant on the island.
Another popular dish is taco rice. Taco rice is begun with a base of rice. Lettuce is then laid on top of the rice and taco meat is piled on top of that. Cucumber, cheese and tomato are crumbled over the mixture to complete it. Sometimes the dish is served in a tortilla roll. This meal is served frequently for lunch and is found in many school cafeterias.
Awamori is an alcoholic beverage that is made only in Okinawa. It is created by distilling rice. This drink is exported to Japan, although the exported brands are not as strong as those that stay inside the country. It is also sometimes called island sake.