When I was a child, one of the highlights of our trips to Japan was eating in a hot stone cooking restaurant. I remember that there was a very large, smooth stone, searingly hot. The waitress would bring in some fresh sirloin and we would cook it ourselves on the stone. It smelt wonderful and tasted even better.
Although all I really remember was the beef, after a bit of research I found out that “Ishi-Yaki”, or Japanese hot stone cooking is actually an ancient cooking method and is traditionally done with seafood,rather than meat, as you can read below:
What’s Cooking America: Glossary
“When fishermen go to catch a fish or shellfish by diving into sea, it was a custom to provide a stove in the boat. At noon, they boiled fish and shellfish in a wooden bucket heated with hot stones from the stove.
On shore, where wooden buckets or pans were not provided, they cooked in a hollow of a rock. This cooking is also called ‘ishi-yaki,’ baked with hot stones. The original ishi-yaki was said to be the cooking of freshwater fish at the bank of a mountain river. In Akita, this cooking was thought to be very ancient. Instead of using hot stones, a big rock with a hollow was also used. At first, a fire was build in the hollow, then food was cooked in the hot hollow.”
Interestingly enough, another way the hot stone cooking is used in Akita was by simply throwing in a few blisteringly hot stones into a pail of soup, filled with raw vegetables and seafood. The heat of the stones would cause the soup to boil instantaneously, thereby cooking the dish. This interesting local specialty can easily be found in various restaurants in the Akita area.
[tags]Japanese food, ancient cooking methods, hot stone cooking, ishi-yaki[/tags]