The Zainichi Gourmet Ghetto


‘Chijimi’ comes from chijim (to panfry,) a word used mostly in the southernmost rural regions of the Korean peninsula. Rather than ‘pa-jeon,’ the dominant Korean word for this popular Korean pancake, ‘Chijimi’ stuck in  Japan, as overwhelming majority of Zainichi are descendents of the peasantry from these agricultural regions.


Horumon, or ‘innards,’ is a signature Zainichi Soul Food ingredient. The word Horumon is said to have derived from “houru-mon,” Osaka area dielect for “garbage.” Animal guts were often tossed by the Japanese who slaughtered primarily for meat consumption, and thus were important accessible sources of protein for Zainichi communities. Today’s Pokka is made with Tecchan, pork large intestine. Tecchan’ is also unique Zainichi vocabulary  derived from the Korean word for large intestine (대장), and is one of the most popular Zainichi dishes in Japan today.


 ‘Pokka’ is a Japanized version of ’Pokkum,’ Korean for sautée. Today it is popular throughout Japan, where Zainichi have played a significant role in introducing Korean cuisine, a la Zainichi style.


Shut out from Japan’s formal economy, many Zainichi earned a living selling home-made goods in the black market. Makers of doburoku, unfiltered, fermented rice drink, drew from their own Korean peasant tradition, adapting the method of ‘tong-dong-ju’ production by replacing barley yeast used in Korea with rice yeast that was more commonly available in Japan.


White rice was an object of envy for most Zainichi Koreans; popular mixes comprised of brown rice, millet, pearl and pressed barlies and other cheaper grains.