One of the best things about traveling is being able to try out the local, authentic cuisine: having the regional specialty the way it's meant to be had just might be the most exquisite experience you can ever experience. As winter brings very nutritious shells and seafood, enjoy it the way the locals enjoy it.
Takezaki crab is a type of Japanese blue crab caught around Tara Town near the Sage-Nagasaki border. The Ariake Sea being rich in mineral, the crab here are top-notch. It's a year-round crab season here - meaty but more mild male crab are brought in during the summer, while flavorful female crab just before laying eggs are brought in during the winter season. Enjoy it the locals' way - fried, with sake, in miso soup, porridge, and of course the standard salt water boiled, etc.
Boasting the highest production of fugu cultivation, Nagasaki has created its own line of fugu. Nagasaki Fugu are locally-grown, carefully-handpicked pufferfish over the weight of 800g. This chewy white-meat fish is considered one of the highest quality delicacies throughout Japan and is delivered from right here to the rest of the country. People of nearby Shimabara region often call it ""ganba,"" meaning ""coffin"" as in they would risk their lives just to have a taste of it. Enjoy it the way locals enjoy it; sashimi, nabe pot, fried, parboiled, jellied broth, and more.
Town of Hirado in Nagasaki boasts one of the highest number of natural flounder fish being brought in the country. Grown in the rough seas of Genkainada, the flounder here are fatty and juicy. They are considered one of the highest-grade white-meat fish in the market. As the season for flounder fish kicks off between January and early April, annual Hirado Hirame (Flounder) Festival brings in many tourists from in and around the country. Flounder fish have been gaining some popularity among beauty enthusiasts for their high content of vitamins, minerals, and collagen while being relatively low in fat. Enjoy it the way the locals enjoy it; chewy sashimi, shabu shabu, sushi, chazuke, French meuniére, and more.
Seki saba mackerel are one of the highest grade fish in the country. Raised in the rough and fast current of the Hoyo Strait, this breed of mackerel are highly sought after in the Japanese market. They are caught only by a traditional single-hook method so as to not damage the fish and brought into Saganoseki Port to go through a thorough selective procedure called ""tsuragai"" as well as their original method for preserving the freshness. Such rigid process is what produces the top quality fish in the market.
Locally called Ara, niphon spinosus fish represent one of the staple winter dishes of Fukuoka. They are also known as longtooth grouper in the public and are some of the best quality fish to come by. When Kyushu Grand Sumo Tournament comes to Fukuoka from fall to winter, the shortage of these fish is an expected regular occurrence as the demand for chanko nabe skyrockets. Because of this, they are often called the ""legendary fish"" and are typically much more valued than fugu pufferfish or red snapper in Fukuoka. The fish meat is mild and simple, yet elegant in taste. It contains high gelatin content right in-between the skin and the meat. Enjoy it to the fullest in the way the locals enjoy it; sashimi, nabe, shabu shabu, fried, porridge, and more.
It is quite a stiff competition for the sushi market here in Amakusa. It is surrounded by the Yatsushiro Sea, the Ariake Sea, and the East China Sea - making it quietly a high quality, very fresh raw fish market. You'll find all kinds of fish including red snapper, mackerel, horse mackerel, conger eel, bonito, octopus, spiny lobster, and more. Rare combination of the indented coastline and rather warmer climate makes this region a perfect spot for various types of fish to grow. Some of the sushi restaurants go extra mile - they get pretty creative with their rice and fish. Sure to satisfy your appetite.
Kochi Prefecture is widely known for its production of bonito; however, Miyazaki is No.1 in bringing in the highest number of single-hook bonito in the country. The prefecture draws lots of bonito riding up the Kuroshio Current, as they are eventually shipped to all over Japan. The local's way is sashimi, not more commonly-associated lightly-roasted bonito. Nichinan/Nango region's most popular dish is ""katsuomeshi"" - a chazuke style dish made with leftover sashimi. Take the leftover pieces and place them on top of rice in a larger bowl, top it with soy sauce with grated sesame seeds. There you have a ""katsuomeshi."" Miyazaki's registered original brand of sauce ""Miyazaki Bonito Umikkosetsu"" is a recreation of these soy sauces passed down through generations in families living in this port region.
Many believe that yellowtail fish symbolize good luck. This derives from how quickly these fish naturally grow. Kagoshima is Japan's highest producer of yellowtail fish. Especially the ones in high quality and/or produced in the best environment are tagged as the official brand of ""Kagoshima's fish."" Thanks to the warm and rapid current from Kuroshio and the wide field, the yellowtail of Kagoshima cultivation are just like the natural ones - they are as meaty and full of nutrients like DHA and EPA like any other. Perfect for sashimi, sushi, shabu shabu, chazuke, boiled, and many more.