Culinary Culture in East Asia: Aquatic Environment, Colonial Legacies and Regional Interaction

Title: 1244 | Culinary Culture in East Asia: Aquatic Environment, Colonial Legacies and Regional Interaction
Area: Northeast Asia
Stream: History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Lin-Ti Tseng, Taipei Medical University, Taiwan (organizer, presenter)
Chung-Hao Kuo, Taipei Medical University, Taiwan (presenter)
Kazuhiro Iwama, Keio University, Japan (presenter)


The panel is cross-regional research of culinary culture in East Asia from early modern to modern times. Several issues will be included, including regional culinary tradition, colonial legacies, the formation of taste, and regional interaction. The fist paper discusses raw-fish (魚生) cuisine in Ming-Qing Guangdong with a focus on the relationship among aquatic environment, culinary characteristics, and changes in taste. The second paper explores the relationship among empire, technology, and taste with a focus on the production and consumption of skipjack tuna, also known as katsuobushi (鰹節) in Taiwan during the Japanese Colonial Era. The third paper concerns how Taiwanese, Korean and Manchurian cuisine were designed under the Japanese empire. From the abovementioned topics, we can see how culinary culture was shaped by the environment, migration, political powers, and technology.

Panel Abstracts:
Empire, Technology and Taste: The Production and Consumption of Skipjack Tuna in Taiwan during the Japanese Colonial Era
In Japan there is a long history of production and consumption of skipjack tuna products, an important source of the umami flavor characteristic of Japanese cuisine. After Taiwan’s incorporation into the Japanese empire in 1895, Japanese colonial authorities surveyed aquatic resources around Taiwan and introduced modern methods for catching skipjack tuna and producing dried skipjack tuna flakes (known in Japanese as katsuobushi, 鰹節). The development of aquatic industry manpower, training in aquatic resources, import of new fishery technologies, and establishment of skipjack tuna factories allowed the Japanese colonial government to incorporate Taiwan into its broader system of aquatic industry modernization. This project, ‘Empire, Technology and Taste: The Production and Consumption of Skipjack Tuna in Taiwan during the Japanese Colonial Era,’ will draw upon both primary sources and field work to examine how Japan used imperial power to develop Taiwan’s skipjack tuna industry. This encompasses the use of modern fishery technology to increase Taiwan’s skipjack tuna catch, the dispatch of fishery specialists from Japan to Taiwan to assist with skipjack tuna flake production, and the export of processed dried skipjack tuna flakes back to Japan for sale on the Japanese market. In short, this project, by using a crossing-regional approach, will identify the place of skipjack tuna flakes in historical culinary exchanges between Japan and Taiwan, discuss how demand for skipjack tuna products in Japan promoted the development of Taiwan’s fishing industry, and understand the commercial exchanges of fishery technology, aquatic knowledge, and fishing industry personnel between Japan and Taiwan.

An Untold Story of Raw Fish Cuisine: Aquatic Environment, Culinary Characteristics and the Shifting Taste in Ming-Qing Guangdong
This work explores the significance of raw fish cuisine in Ming-Qing Guangdong. Chinese have consumed raw fish cuisine from ancient time to the present and it has evolved to become a unique culinary culture. The consumption of raw fish cuisine in China evolved over different historical periods. During ancient and medieval China, raw fish belonged to a high-end cuisine and existed chiefly within aristocracy and elite class. By the early modern era, while raw fish cuisine faded in most regions in China, people in Guangdong remained extremely enjoying it. Rather than investigate the detailed evolution of raw fish cuisine in Chinese history, this work focuses on Guangdong to examine its aquatic environment and fish species, the culinary characteristics of raw fish cuisine, and the shifting taste of raw fish cuisine between Guangdong and the Lower Yangtze River region, all of which assist us to understand the unique culinary culture of raw fish in Ming-Qing Guangdong.

How Taiwanese, Korean, and Manchurian Cuisines were Designed?: A Comparison of Colonial Cuisines in Japanese Empire
After Taiwan, Korea, and Manchu came under Japanese rule, Japanese people developed a relatively strong interest in the colonial food culture, and the categories of "Taiwanese cuisine", "Korean cuisine", and "Manchurian cuisine" were clearly recognized in Japan. This was not often the case in the European empires in Asia. At the National Industrial Expo held in Osaka in 1903, the Governor's office of Taiwan set up a Taiwan pavilion as well as a Taiwanese restaurant to promote the Taiwanese cuisine. After 1922, many royals visited Taiwan and experienced the Taiwanese cuisine. The myth that the Japanese were indifferent to Korean cuisine has also been overturned, and kimchi, seolleongtang and short ribs were highly regarded. Korea's first modern cookbook, “Korean Cuisine Recipes”was written by Bang Shin Young, a famous Korean nutritionist, and published in 1917. In addition, The Chosun Daily frequently advertised Korean cooking classes in colonial Korea. After the Japanese armed forces established the puppet nation "Manchukuo" in 1932, the South Manchuria Railway Co., Ltd. and Japan Tourist Bureau played a central role establishing an original food culture for Manchukuo. They created specialties such as Yamato beef steak, jingisucan (Mongolian Barbeque), and Chinese sorghum sweets

This panel is on Thursday - Session 04 - Room 9

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