Kishiko-san’s modoriuke in Momoshima
Momoshima is about a 10-minute ferry ride from Tomonoura. Beautiful flowers bloom in the gardens of the homes surrounded by the calm sea. The island is a paradise full of friendly grannies, and they are adorable!
The population of Momoshima is roughly 500. The elderly here are all self-sufficient, producing their own vegetables for their food. As a result of the increasing gray population along with a low birthrate, the island has no convenience stores, supermarkets, or restaurants. However, a few years ago an old school was repurposed to become a place to produce art; subsequently, artists have come from overseas along with new residents to the island.
I received information from the locals of “a cute old lady who is good at cooking,” so I paid a visit to her home where she was already waiting for me. Kishiko-san is a small figure with an innocent smile, like a tiny, cute animal.
I commented on how unusual her name was and she responded with a straight face, “I thought [my name] has some connection with Mexico, but no, there isn’t.” The sudden onslaught of her aura of cuteness instantly melted my heart. Kishiko-san has lived on Momoshima for all her life, nearly 80 or so years. Of course, leading a self-sustaining lifestyle, “of getting energy by eating the freshest ingredients” is how Kishiko-san views farming.
At the kitchen Kishiko-san is joined by her relative, Sachie. The two are making a dish called “modoriuke” for me.
“There are no jobs here in Momoshima, hence the men here have to leave the island to earn a living. 3 months fishing mackerel, and for tuna the men will be gone for almost half a year. This dish,’modoriuke’, is what we would make when the men come back from their work.”
Upon hearing the villagers shouting of a ship’s arrival, the wives welcoming their husbands back hurry to cook this particular dish. Sachie, who is in her seventies, said with a charming smile, “the younger ones like myself don’t know this dish.”
Often the fishermen would spend their entire earnings on all sorts of entertainment, but Kishiko-san’s husband, who was 5 years older than her, didn’t drink and was a serious man. She bashfully remembers how he would go straight back home from his fishing stints eagerly gobbling up her modoriuke.
To make modoriuke, water is added to flour and kneaded. A noodle rolling pin is used to stretch the dough, which is then cut into noodles thicker than udon noodles. “Modoriuke is made in a hurry,” Kishiko-san noted, so any available vegetables are added into a soup using (a dried bonito and kelp-based) stock, cooking sake, soy sauce and barley miso.
In the past, the island could only produce legumes even with crop rotations. Onions and potatoes were recently farmed since the mid-Showa Period (circa 1950s). Amidst these limitations, and knowing that the men would have an unbalanced fish-centric diet on their ships, the wives of Momoshima would add as many vegetables to the modoriuke as they could.
A dish full of love and consideration for the husband’s health. Indeed, after returning from days being out at sea, one would undoubtedly have tears of joy upon tasting modoriuke.
A culinary researcher based in Bangkok. Founder of 40creations. During college, she realized that good food could create smiles, regardless of country borders or age. In 2012, she start the project YOU BOX to share “ridiculously delicious” experiences with the world, and hunting “Grandma’s recipes” at the same time. Published a book in Japanese based on the interviews she's done for 100 people in 15 countries for ３ years. In 2018, she found TASTE HUNTERS with domestic partners in Thai.
Translate : Luke Baker