Murakami Salmon(村上の鮭)



Murakami is a city located in the north of Niigata Prefecture. It prospered as a port and castle town under the clan of the same name, where samurai residences can even be found. But what gastronomic delights does Murakami hide?

 What is Murakami famous for?

Among the various gastronomic specialties for which Murakami is renowned, perhaps the most famous is salmon. 
The typical and traditional preparation is shiobiki-zake or salt-cured salmon. In fact, one of the things that catch the eye when entering the city, is the amount of salmon hung upside down for months inside the stores or outside them, thus achieving the fermentation with the consequent drying. Once ready for consumption, they are hand-sliced, and sold. There are around a dozen different flavors, including standard salted salmon, miso salmon, and soy-sauce salmon.

 A traditional practice

Salmon fishing has been a common practice in Murakami for centuries. However, in the middle of the Edo period, fishing began to decline and with it, the economy of the Murakami clan. As a result, they began to study salmon migration and discovered that salmon returned to the river to spawn after spending some time at sea. For this reason, the Murakami clan began to protect them, thus becoming “the city of salmon”, until today.

But… is it worth it?

Murakami is a place that hardly is in the international travel guides, so when I read about it and the quality of its salmon, I decided to take a train from Niigata and go there to check if what I had read was true. And it certainly was.
I decided to have lunch at the most reputable restaurant in the area, where through a course menu, I was able to try different parts of the salmon with different types of preparations. Not only did I have the opportunity to taste the salmon, but Niigata is also known for its rice. This rice is grown in the land near the Miomote and Arakawa rivers and has a spectacular flavor.
After lunch, I recommend visiting the specialized salmon stores, where many of them make their own products, so it can become a perfect omiyage, or have your own “little Murakami” at home.