“Tsukudani” are cooked marine products such as small fish, shellfish and seaweed, boiled down in sweetened soy sauce.
Tsukudani originated in “Tsukuda-jima” island, Chuo Ward, Tokyo. Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, ordered the thirty-four fishermen in present Tsukuda, Nishi-Yodogawa Ward, Osaka, to move to Edo, present Tokyo, and gave them fishing rights.
These catches were to be presented to the Tokugawa family. They were allowed to live on a manmade island at the mouth of the Sumida River, which was named Tsukuda-jima after Tsukuda in Osaka. While the fishermen offered their catch to the Tokugawa shogun, they cooked tsukudani making the most of the rest of the catch as their own meal when working on the fishing boat.
In the course of time, this preserved food prevailed among the masses in Edo thanks to the inexpensive price. After that, it spread throughout Japan as a specialty of Edo. The first picture shows Tsukudani of goby, and the traditional shop in the second picture is one of the three time-honored tsukudani shops remaining in Tsukuda-jima island.
By Masahisa Takaki.
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