Barayaki is a simple dish of grilled beef* flank and onions marinated in a soy sauce based sauce (called “tare”). The dish is said to have originated in the 1950s in Towada’s neighbouring city, Misawa, where an American air base was (and is still) located. People were able to obtain the beef flanks cheaply from the Air Base. Onions were also a cheap and easily obtainable vegetable at that time. So the meat and onions were combined with tare and barayaki was born.
*Although barayaki was originally made with beef, it is now also made with pork or horse meat.
Although barayaki originated in Misawa, its popularity spread throughout nearby cities and towns, including Towada. It is so popular now in Towada that it is served in about 70 restaurants! (See the Google Maps Barayaki Map (Japanese) for a comprehensive list of establishments in Towada serving barayaki.)
In 2008, the Towada Barayaki Seminar (Barazemi) group was formed to promote Towada through barayaki as a local cuisine. The Barazemi rose logo and motto “La vie en rose” (French, meaning “Enjoy a rosy life”) is a play on the word “barayaki” since another meaning for “bara” (flank meat) in Japanese is “rose.”
Towada Barayaki and the B-1 Grand Prix
The B-1 Grand Prix is a contest for “local gourmet brand*” foods from all over Japan. Barazemi started promoting Towada Barayaki at various local B-1 Grand Prix events in 2009 and made its first appearance at a national B-1 Grand Prix Competition in 2010.
(*Most people likely believe that the "B" in B-1 stands for "B-grade" (B級, B-kyuu) although it actually stands for "brand.")
B-1 Grand Prix Participation and Ranking History
- September 2009 B-1 Grand Prix Exhibition (Akita) – participant
- December 2009 Tohoku B-1 in Hachinohe (Aomori) – 1st place
- September 2010 5th B-1 Grand Prix in Atsugi (Kanagawa) - 8th place
- October 2010 Hokkaido-Tohoku B-1 Grand Prix in Yokote (Akita) – 1st place
- September 2011 Hokkaido-Tohoku B-1 Grand Prix in Aomori (Aomori) – participant*
- October 2011 6th B-1 Grand Prix in Himeji (Hyogo) – 8th place
- October 2012 7th B-1 Grand Prix in Kitakyushu (Fukuoka) – 10th place
- September 2013 Hokkaido-Tohoku Grand Prix in Towada (Aomori) – host
- November 2013 8th B-1 Grand Prix in Toyokawa (Aichi) – 2nd place
- October 2014 9th B-1 Grand Prix in Koriyama (Fukushima) – 1st place
- Aomori Gourmet, “Towada Barayaki” http://www.aomori-gourmet.jp/en/towadabarayaki.html
- B-1 Grand Prix, “Past B-1 Grand Prix Competitions” 過去のB-1グランプリ (Japanese) http://b-1grandprix.com/%E9%81%8E%E5%8E%BB%E3%81%AE%EF%BD%82-%EF%BC%91%E3%82%B0%E3%83%A9%E3%83%B3%E3%83%97%E3%83%AA/
- Japan Times, “Aomori group cooks up victory at ninth B-1 Grand Prix” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/20/national/aomori-group-cooks-victory-ninth-b-1-grand-prix/#.VMhOdSy8ppk
- Towada Barayaki Seminar, “The History of Barayaki” バラ焼きの歴史 (Japanese) http://www.barayaki.com/history.html
- Wikipedia, “Barayaki” バラ焼き (Japanese) http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%90%E3%83%A9%E7%84%BC%E3%81%8D