Friday, 20th May 2016
In General Japan News,
Long-lost fiery chilli making a resurgence in Gifu Prefecture
A variety of chilli that is considered the spiciest in Japan was once thought lost, but after specimens were found, it is now gaining in popularity once more.
The Tokuyama chilli pepper was believed to have been lost forever when a chance encounter between a farmer and a city official in Gifu Prefecture proved it was not.
Makoto Sumi bit into a green chilli at a barbecue, not knowing exactly what he was getting himself into, but soon found that the excruciating sensation indicated it was no ordinary chilli.
Since Sumi’s painful experience in 2012, officials in Motosu city have been using the chilli to help promote the area as a destination, reports The Asahi Shimbun.
The history of the chilli’s usage and also the source of its name relates back to a special recipe that was popular in Tokuyama village.
Here, the population used the chilli to make a dish known as jigoku udon or hell noodles, which warmed them up during the cold winters experienced throughout Gifu Prefecture.
In 1987, the entire village was relocated so the Tokuyama Dam could be built and it was thought that all of the chilli cultivation areas had disappeared under the water.
Now, it seems that a farmer by the name of Shinsaku Hata also did some labouring and worked on the road that was built to help construct the new dam.
He tried some pickles made using the chillies during his time in Tokuyama and took some back to his own farm to start growing them and today has around 300 plants.
It was at Hata’s barbecue that Sumi tasted the chilli, which came at an opportune time, as he was looking for something to make Motosu city stand out in his capacity in the government’s industry and economy section.
He decided to market the product as “the lost chili pepper that sank to the bottom of the dam” and since 2015 they have been sold in powdered form in bottles priced at 200 yen (£1.25) and have proved popular.