Sasayama Boar Cuisine
Botan nabe, or boar meat hot pot, is a must-try Tamba Sasayama dish that is enjoyed in fall and winter. It is said that the name of this hot pot dish “botan” comes from the way that the boar meat is displayed on the plate, resembling a peony flower.
Sasayama's delicious wild boar meat became known throughout the country during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). According to one story, the hot pot recipe was initially a boar meat miso soup recipe invented by infantry troop soldiers stationed in Sasayama at that time.
Upon returning to their hometowns, the soldiers couldn’t resist the urge to spread the word about the incredibly tasty boar meat of Tamba Sasayama.
The natural environment of the local boars in Sasayama is one of the factors that makes the meat so delicious. It is believed that the boars’ meat gets tastier the more it runs up and down the hills.
Another factor that contributes to its tastiness is the harsh climate of Sasayama. There is a stark difference in temperature between day and night. Because of this temperature gap, berries, mushrooms (matsutake), and other plants can be found in abundance in the mountains.
Wild boars are not picky when it comes to food: they eat the tasty offerings of the mountain, and the richness of their diets influences greatly the flavor of their own meat.
The Taste and Features of Botan Nabe Hot Pot
Between November and March, any visitor to Sasayama will definitely smell the inviting fragrance of botan nabe all around the city. Follow the aromas and you might get the chance to taste this delicious local specialty.
Botan nabe is a hot pot dish made with a miso broth flavored with kelp and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes).
The ingredients that go into the soup are just as important. In addition to Chinese cabbage, carrots, burdock, and other root crops, the hot pot also contains shiitake, enoki, and other mushrooms, konjac, raw noodles, and other ingredients. It is a true feast made with several ingredients that go well with miso. After everything is inserted into the pot, one adds the miso, which does its magic in flavoring the dish.
Leave the ingredients alone in the broth for a few minutes to simmer. Afterward, take one bite, slurp, or gulp, and your body will be overwhelmed with flavor and a soothing warmness.
When you visit Sasayama in the winter, enjoy gazing at the splendid winter scenery while tasting botan nabe, a local, first-class delicacy.