Mar 15, 2018
Known as “Onsen Paradise”, Beppu in Oita Prefecture has a special dish called “jigoku mushi”, which means “steamed dishes from Hell’s kitchen”. Ingredients are cooked in a very traditional way in a cooker called “jigoku-gama” (Hell’s cooker) on a fumarole from which hot-spring vapor with a temperature of 98 degrees Celsius gushes out to steam them.
Because the water of Kannawa hot spring in Beppu is believed to have natural therapeutic powers, a number of guests stay for an extended period of time for healing purposes. Because of the long stay, they prefer to cook by themselves and jigoku-gama has been traditionally used. Now there are some shops offering jigoku-gama cooking for tourists and these have been drawing much attention also among international visitors.
You can purchase ingredients in the shop or bring in whatever you want to eat, such as vegetables, seafood or meat, and cook it in the shop. For beginners it is recommended to cook eggs and make “onsen tamago”. Some people even cook fruit! It is also fun to see what other guests cook. The basic idea is that you pay a fee to use a jigoku-gama, then place whatever you want to cook in the cooker and just wait till your food is ready to eat. The only thing you have to be careful about is how long to cook your food. The method is quite healthy because no oil is used and any fat in the ingredients is allowed to drip off while being cooked. Since foods are steamed with very high heat of hot-spring vapor quickly, they are salted slightly and the original taste is subtly enhanced. Although “jigoku mushi” sounds fearful, it is actually fun to share a kitchen with other guests and to experience for yourself this simple and amusing specialty of Beppu cuisine. Why don’t you try it for your lunch or dinner?
Jigoku Mushi Kobo Kannawa
* This is the information as of June, 2017
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