Photo/IllutrationDeep-fried oysters in white batter developed by the Hiroshima prefectural government (Kento Matsushima)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

HIROSHIMA--In a bid to become the world’s oyster capital, chefs in this city are giving a tempura-like twist to Japanese fried oysters and cooking up ones coated in fine white batter.

The traditional fried oyster dish, called “kaki furai,” is typically done in golden-brown batter.

Though Hiroshima Prefecture ranks first by far in both oyster production and consumption per capita in Japan, an odd disconnect occurs when locals are asked by tourists to recommend something to eat.

They rarely recommend oysters.

A prefectural government survey showed that 62.3 percent of Hiroshima's tourists wanted to eat oysters there. But only 1.7 percent of local residents said the shellfish topped their list of food they recommended to tourists.

To entice residents to recommend the prefecture's specialty more often, the prefecture asked local chefs to do something different with the dish.

After experimenting with various cooking oils and bread crumbs, prefectural representatives announced Sept. 12 that they had hit upon a new recipe for the oyster dish.

Beginning in early November, white-battered, deep-fried oysters will be available in restaurants and elsewhere in Hiroshima, the representatives said.

To prepare them, chefs coat oysters fresh enough to be eaten raw with uncooked bread crumbs and then deep-fry them in lard.

Usually, when chefs make kaki furai, they deep-fry the oysters at about 180 degrees. But to get ones with a white batter coating, they deep-fry breaded oysters at a lower heat of about 130 degrees for several minutes, the representatives said.

The prefectural government founded a special team called Kakikuken, consisting of cooks and oyster producers, to develop the kaki furai variation.

The results of their effort got a thumbs-up from Hiroshima's governor.

“Once I bit into one, the smell of the sea filled my mouth. I've never tasted anything like it,” Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki said. “I hope they become popular as an oyster dish Hiroshima Prefecture can confidently recommend to tourists.”