Kiritanpo is a simple and traditional Japanese food. // (c) 2013 Mindy Poder
Popsicles, lollipops, corndogs and, as I learned recently in Japan, rice are among the foods that are best served on a stick. Kiritanpo is a local dish found mainly in the Akita Prefecture. Like other Japanese foods, Kiritanpo is simple, traditional and not fussy — the harmony of its flavors and the warming process of making it turn it into an unexpected comfort food.
In the small city of Kazuno, the self-proclaimed birthplace of Kiritanpo, groups can learn how to make the dish before enjoying it in soup, like a dumpling, or by itself. Though Kiritanpo is a pretty simple dish to prepare, it is a fun process worth doing with friends or family when exploring the Tohoku region of Japan.
A local Japanese grandmother guided us through the steps of kneading the rice before we shaped it into cylinders around the skewers. Then we went outside and watched the rice get crispy over a grill, whirling around our skewers until the rice had developed a golden, toasted outer shell. At that point, we used a brush to spread a sweet miso sauce on our wands of rice, letting the sweet miso seep into the drying paddies.
As though we were around a campfire making s ’mores, we were getting warm around the open hearth, helping each other out, developing our appetites and swapping stories as the fire did its magic.