Cold days are coming, and it’s time to have a meal that will keep you warm all day! Therefore, have yourself a bowl of Nagasaki champon (長崎チャンポン), which is a regional dish that comes from Nagasaki prefecture, located on Kyushu Island. Enriched with interesting cultural values and history, no wonder that Nagasaki champon has become nationally recognized by the people of Japan. Learn about the history of Nagasaki champon and how you can prepare it at home.
History and Background of Nagasaki Champon
The origin of Nagasaki champon can be traced back into the late 19th century. Between 1639 and 1853, Japan was still an isolated country, it is prohibited to do international trade. However, there were some places that were allowed to stay open, including Nagasaki. As a result of the foreign policy, during the Meiji period many students from China came to study abroad.
In order to help the students to get an affordable yet nutritional foods when they were abroad, a chinese chef named Chen Pingsun that had lived in Nagasaki for seven years, created a noodle dish that reminds him of his hometown, Fujian. It is a noodle cooked in a dillute pork broth and mixed with various kinds of vegetables, such as shiitake, bamboo sprout, and leek. Then, he took his own approach for recreating the dish, by replacing the noodle into Japanese-style noodle, adding thicker broth, more vegetables, and occasionally he used seafoods ingredients that he got around Nagasaki such as shrimps and oysters.
As time went by, his hard work and dedication payed off since the dish became popular, and people were naming the dish as Shinaudon (Chinese-style udon). Afterwards, he decided to spend all his savings and opened a restaurant named Shikairou. In this restaurant, he named the dish as Champon (ちゃんぽん), which means “to eat a meal”.
How to Make Nagasaki Champon
If you are planning to make Nagasaki Champon at home, don’t worry if you are not a good cook, because this dish is relatively easy to make. To start, the main ingredient that you to creating an irresistible champon noodles is a good broth and lard. Pork broth works the best since it has a thick consistency (depends on how long you boil the pork bone until it creamy) and it also has the ability to accentuate flavors compared to other ingredients, meanwhile lard will make your stir-fry more fragrant. Furthermore, prepare some proteins for the toppings, it can be pork, slices of fish cake, calamari slices, etc basically you can add anything you like. For vegetables, add some sliced cabbage, beansprouts, carrot, and spring onions to make it colorful.
For cooking instructions, first fire up your wok until it feels very hot. Add the lard into the wok and let it melts. After that, add seafood or meat and stir fry it until it is half-cooked. Then, add vegetables and keep stir frying it, as you pour some pork broth into the wok. When your ingredients are already soaked with the broth, add champon noodles and let it simmer for a few minutes until you find that it is cooked perfectly. Served the dish in a bowl, and voila! You have succeeded to cook your own Nagasaki Champon.
Eat Nagasaki Champon in Nagasaki
Fast forward to the present time, Shikairou has been serving guests for more than 100 years and the restaurant i still a great place to eat the original Champon Noodle. They also provided various toppings aside from the original for those who wants to try new kinds of champon dish. Since most of people in Nagasaki eat their Champon in the afternoon, the best time to visit Shikairou is around 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM. Accompanied with large selections of Japanese sake and shochu, there is no way to resist spending your lunch time at Shikairou.
[map lat=”32.736498″ lng=”129.869771″][/map]
Address: 4-5 Matsugaemachi, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture
Access: 1 minute walk from O-Uratenshudoshita Station
11.30 AM – 3:00 PM (Lunch)
5:00 PM – 9:00 PM (Dinner)
*Closed on Tuesdays
Website: Shikairou (Japanese)