Unagi pancake: When eel turns into Japanese evening pancake

Many cities in Japan are famous for their famous pastries, which are very popular as a souvenir to give when returning from a trip to these areas. This is the case of Hamamatsu, which is not particularly famous for these attractions but whose specialty pastries are nationally popular.

Unagi PieIt is one of the most famous pastries in the Tokai region (central east coast).

In addition to being the original “pastry with eel extract”, the popular phrase “evening pastry” is very interesting. In the first bite, we discover the authentic puff pastry with a crunchy texture of “palm tree” type. Its taste has been almost unchanged since its launch 60 years ago, and it is loved by children and adults alike.

The manufacturer, Shunka-dô, opened the Unagi Pie Factory in 2005 to further promote the pioneer pastry. Factory visit is free, to discover the production process Unagi PieThen sample the more sophisticated treats at the adjacent café. When we went to the winery for an interview, the concierge gave us a detailed tour, explaining how the winery was created, the traditional manufacturing process and the secrets of its popularity.

Unagi Pie Factory.  The biscuit factory attracts many visitors, even on weekdays.
Unagi Pie Factory. The biscuit factory attracts many visitors, even on weekdays.

Takeo Yuya, janitor of the biscuit factory.  Unagi pancake statues are famous for their souvenir photos.
Takeo Yuya, janitor of the biscuit factory. statuesUnagi Pie Famous for pictures of souvenirs.

Pastries from Vienna inspired by the French “palm tree”

Shunka-dô was founded in the middle of the Meiji period. Originally, it was a tea room famous for it Amanato (candied beans) in present-day Fujida. The store opened in Hamamatsu in 1889, when the Tokaido line opened. After the war, then president (2e name), Yamazaki Kôichi wanted to create unique sweets in Hamamatsu.

Today, Hamamatsu is an industrial city, home to the headquarters or factories of some of Japan’s leading musical instrument manufacturers, including Yamaha, Kawai Musical Instruments, and Roland. Hamamatsu is also the headquarters of Suzuki Motor Corporation and the birthplace of Honda. But at that time, the city was not well known. When a traveler said he was from Hamamatsu, his interlocutors often tilted their heads as if to say: Hamamatsu? Where could it be? And if we explain that near Lake Hammana, we end up with the answer: “Ah, I see snakes …” In short, the pastry shop began to develop eel-shaped candy.

Lake Hammana is famous for its eel farms.  The photo shows the red Torre Gate at the southern end of Lake Hammana in Ikaris.
Lake Hammana is famous for its eel farms. The picture shows the red door of Tori At the southern end of Lake Hammana in Ikaris.

The rungs of the eel-shaped ladder show the expression unagi nobori, or
The stairs in the form of snakes illustrate the expression unagi noborior “rise like an eel”, which means the turnover goes up, goes up, goes up…

The basis chosen for the creation of these new pancakes was the puff pastry from the biscuit, which the French call “the palm tree”. After many prototypes of making an eel cookie, the current look is finally fixed. Another key point is that eel powder incorporated into the mixture is obtained from eel heads and bones.

The first attempts to create the shape of an unagi pancake.  On the left is a figure inspired by an eel grilled over a wood fire.  On the right, shaped like an eel's head.  Both of these ideas are scrapped because these cookies break very easily.
The first attempts to create the shape of an unagi pancake. On the left is a figure inspired by an eel grilled over a wood fire. On the right, shaped like an eel’s head. Both of these ideas are scrapped because these cookies break very easily.

When the no-holds-barred marketing strategy hits the mark

In 1961, when Unagi Pie It began to be sold in station kiosks, and the success came, among other things, from the originality of the concept. In 1964, the Shinkansen Tôkaidô high-speed train opened at Hamamatsu Station, and in 1969, the Tômei Expressway was opened to traffic on its last route. The growth of domestic business has attracted business travelers from many suppliers, who have made a great contribution to the fameUnagi Pie as a souvenir.

The unagi pie is a lovely keepsake to give.
L ‘Unagi Pie It is a beautiful keepsake to give.

The phrase “evening pastry” also helped boost the product’s popularity. President Yamazaki, who was concerned about the fact that time spent with family was diminishing as women entered working life, wished withUnagi PieDevelop an enjoyable post-dinner moment around this delicacy.

The kind of warm family scene around an unagi pie that Shunka-dô's chief, Yamazaki Kôichi, imagined.
Kind of warm family scene aroundUnagi Pie Imagined by the chief of Shunka-dô, Yamazaki Kôichi.

On the other hand, snakes are known to be a tonic food. As Hamamatsu developed as an industrial city and there were more and more people at night, more and more people began to buy it for fun, interpreting the term “sweet evening” as “energetic tonic”.

Shunka-d noticed this trend. Inspired by the nutritional supplement Mamushi Drink (“The Viper” energy drink), which was very popular at the time, the packaging changed from blue to red, black and yellow, like the water of Lake Hamana. Indeed, the biscuits are kneaded with eel extracts, which are rich in vitamin A and are effective in relieving fatigue and combating the stress of the summer heat wave. President Yamazaki also benefited from what he learned from customers, that pastries should not only have taste, but also have added value. Sales are up again.

One ad campaign was ridiculous about the subtle hint:
One of the ad campaigns was ironic about the subtle hint: “This is the fun of the evening!” »

Handicrafts of skilled craftsmen and the secret “hamamatsu” sauce

The production process has remained virtually unchanged since its inception. The dough is made only from wheat, butter, water and eel powder. The dough-making process, which requires careful adjustments to temperature and humidity, is carried out by skilled craftsmen, and one person kneads about 3.6 tons of dough per day. It is then rolled thinly and dusted with sugar before folding and re-folding until it reaches a total of 9,000 layers, creating a unique crunchy texture.

The baking is automated, but the procedure remains the same. Each cookie is slowly roasted at approximately 300°C for 10 minutes, and as with KabayakiAt the end, a secret sauce is applied with a brush. The recipe for the sauce is a trade secret, which only five people know at the factory, where more than 150 employees work …

The secret sauce is carefully applied with a brush, even if the process is done now.
The secret sauce is carefully applied with a brush, even if the process is done now.

However, we know that there will be a small amount of garlic. This removes the slight raw smell that remains in the eel extract and adds depth to its taste.

President Yamazaki was inspired by jyoza Which started to spread when he developed the product, which led him to use garlic. Hamamatsu is currently ‘City jyoza Next to Utsunomiya and more recently Miyazaki. Eel tart, which contains elements from two local tasting specialties, eel and jyozaThus, it can be brag about representing the true taste of Hamamatsu.

Once cooked, they are manually inspected, before being packed and loaded into trucks. about 200,000 Unagi Pie It is produced daily.

The final process is manually controlled.  Incompatible or damaged cookies are sold in
The final process is manually controlled. Incompatible or damaged cookies are sold in ‘discount bags’.

From the first floor, visitors can observe the work of the packaging line.
From the first floor, visitors can observe the work of the packaging line.

Excellent treats made fromUnagi Pie

if it wasUnagi Pie The standard has been the same for 60 years, many variations have emerged since then, such as the “small unagi pie”,Unagi Pie With almonds or honey and nuts. The “unagi pie VSOP”, made with brandy and macadamia nuts, is especially recommended for adults. Its motto is “midnight pie” and it goes well with alcoholic beverages.

After a factory tour, take a break with a candy made fromUnagi Pie. They go perfectly with ice cream and fruit. And if you really want to Unagi PieWe warmly recommend you to visit the factory, where you can get acquainted with the production process and history of this evening biscuit and taste special varieties. You will definitely become more addicted to their secret magic.

Unagi VSOP Pie in its luxurious golden packaging
Unagi VSOP Pie in its luxurious golden packaging

On the left
On the left “Gelato unagi pie”, on the right “Unagi pie tea parfait VSOP”

In the factory store, sister products Unagi Shortbread and Shirasu are also very popular.
In the factory store, sister products unagi sandblasted And the Shirasu pie It is also very popular.

Unagi Pie Factory

  • Address: 748-51 Okubō-chō, Nishi-ku, Hamamatsu-shi, Shizuoka-ken
  • Opening hours: 10 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Closed: Tuesday and Wednesday
  • Complimentary

(Report, text and photos from Nippon.com. Banner photo: “Unagi pancake truck, near the factory)

#Unagi #pancake #eel #turns #Japanese #evening #pancake

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