Aogashima Island : A double volcano with distinctive natural surroundings and geography - Part 2
The people on Aogashima Island used to live inside the large crater, but not anymore. Instead, there is an area called Ikenosawa Fumaroles where facilities are located, including a camping site, a community sauna, and a salt factory. In the summer, a cool wind from the sea blows through this area making visitors feel very comfortable. (I wish I had a hammock here to relax and enjoy the scenery!) The photo above is a view from Maruyama (the small crater inside of the cardela), where a walking trail circles the rim.
This cooker using geothermal steam is available for free. Steamed fresh vegetables, potatoes or eggs are one of the specialties of Aogashima. For seasoning, the best choice is Hingya Salt, a natural salt produced in Aogashima.
Hingya salt is produced by using the geothermal steam at Ikenosawa. The word “Hingya” is a dialect that means “Fumaroles”. To produce the natural salt, Kuroshio sea water, abundant with mineral and calcium, is slowly crystallized by the geothermal steam over weeks, that creates a mild taste. The temperature of the factory inside reaches 60C. There is only one worker, a lady handling everything all by herself. It takes 30 days to complete the work, producing only 90kg salt out of 3t of sea water, therefore, production is very limited. At the factory, natural bittern is also produced, that is used as a skin lotion as well as in the making of Tofu. Epsom salts are also produced as a byproduct, however, but they are disposed of.
Hingya Salt is perfect seasoning for steamed potatoes, Edamame and Tempura. Also, please rememberShimadare, a home-made type of sauce made from red peppers and garlic grown on the island, miso and soy sauce. Shimadare sauce is often used on Sashimi or Sushi, but can also be used other dishes. This sauce blends with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, so, why not try adding to this to pasta or salad?
Another specialty of Aogashima is Shochu, a Japanese distilled spirit. In Aogashima, several master brewers produce Shochu with the same brand name “Aochu”. The taste of their Aochu is a bit different from others as the blending ratio of ingredients (Sweet potatoes and Wheat) varies. Since Aochu is produced in a traditional way under small-scale production, supply is limited.