Japan’s northernmost prefecture and island, Hokkaido, is an abundant source for seafood. Chanchan yaki is made with a whole fish such as salmon or hokke, Okhotsk atka mackerel. The fish is cleaned, butterflied open, and braised with miso, cabbage, and mushrooms. Other vegetables may also be added. Long ago fishermen returning to port would gather around a bonfire and cook chanchan yaki over an iron griddle or on a large shovel. It was a lively atmosphere with everyone gathered around the fire.
There are a few theories to the origins of the name. It was a dish quickly thrown together, chachatto; the sound of the griddle as it heats up, chachatto; or it was made by father, otouchan. Yaki means to grill. Seasoning the dish with miso is commonplace, but this changes by area and even by household with many variations throughout Hokkaido. Chanchan yaki is now often made with fish filets instead of whole fish. Chanchan yaki is rich in umami from the synergistic effect of inosinates in the seafood and glutamates in the vegetables and miso. Chanchan yaki is easy to assemble and a delicious way to enjoy the flavors of Hokkaido.RECIPE_HEADEND