Harakomeshi (はらこ飯)

Harakomeshi is a dish in which cooked rice is served with salmon flesh and salmon roe placed on top. It is also sold as ekiben (a box lunch sold on a train or at a station) in various places in the Tohoku region such as Sendai Station and Morioka Station.

Rice bowl which uses salmon and salmon roe
Harakomeshi (salmon fillet is cooked and placed on top)
In "harakomeshi" which has been handed down as a local dish in Watari Town, Watari County, Miyagi Prefecture, rice is cooked with salmon broth; as such, the color of rice is brown.

The "harakomeshi" that is common in the surroundings of Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture, and in Iwate and Niigata Prefectures usually uses rice which is cooked in an ordinary manner; as such, the color of rice is white.

Others (fresh slices of raw salmon are placed on top)
If, instead of cooked salmon, fresh slices of raw salmon are placed on top of white rice along with salmon roe, then the dish is called "sake ikura don" (salmon rice bowl with salmon roe) or "sake oyako don" ("oyako" meaning parent and child; the salmon being the "parent" and the roe being the "child").

If vinegared rice is used, then the dish is considered as a kind of chirashi zushi (vinegared rice with thin strips of egg, pieces of raw fish, vegetables and crab meat arranged on top) and various names are given accordingly.

"Harakomeshi" in Watari


In the Watari region (Arahama, Watari Town) near the mouth of Abukuma-gawa River, beach seine fishery of salmon was popular. It is said that harakomeshi was served by fishermen when they had a good catch. At the start of the Edo period, Masamune DATE, who became the feudal lord, visited Watari region for inspection of renovation work at Abukuma-gawa River. On this occasion, harakomeshi was presented to him by local fishermen.

How to prepare harakomeshi

Salmon is separated into fillet and sujiko (ovaries of the salmon). The eggs in the sujiko are separated to make roe. Salmon fillet is cooked with stock mixed with soy sauce, sake, sugar, and the like. Leftover broth is diluted to cook rice with it. Salmon roe and salmon fillet are placed on top of rice, and the dish is complete. Often salmon fillet is cooked with soy sauce, separated, and mixed with rice. In such case, salmon roe is placed on top of the rice which is mixed with salmon flesh. Some restaurants may serve it with fishhead soup of salmon. Since it is originally a local dish, the manner of topping salmon roe may be slightly different depending on the household ("served raw", "lightly boiled", "cooked until the surface turns white"). In some specialty shops, salmon roe is often boiled, lightly before it turns cloudy, in order to remove the fishy smell. Recently harakomeshi was broadcasted on various TV media and acquired national publicity. The season for harakomeshi being autumn, during other seasons, hokki meshi (Sakhalin-surf-clam rice) (Winter), shako meshi (mantis shrimp rice) (Spring), and asari meshi (Manila clam rice) (Summer) are served in the Watari region.

Donburi-mono (rice bowl dish) that are known either as "sake ikura don" or "sake oyako don" are served simply by placing salmon and salmon roe on top of white rice; whereas harakomeshi differs from other such dishes in that the rice is flavored as well.

Harakomeshi as ekiben

When Morioka Station was the terminal of Tohoku Shinkansen (line), harakomeshi was a popular ekiben for passengers who made connections to the Limited Express "Hatsukari" bound for Hachinohe Station and Aomori Station (the consumption of salmon fillet and salmon roe is great in Aomori Prefecture, regardless of the area). Furthermore, during the time when the Limited Express "Towada" (later replaced by "Hakkoda"), which ran from Ueno Station to Aomori Station, was in regular service, the timetable was set to give a rather long standing time for the downtrain (departing from Ueno Station) at Morioka Station during 6:50 and 7:00 in the morning to wait to be overtaken by the successive train, an overnight train service; accordingly, harakomeshi was sometimes sold out when there were many passengers buying the ekiben for breakfast.

[Original Japanese]