In Japan, wild boars processed into raw ham on remote island
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In Japan, wild boars processed into raw ham on remote island

  • JAPAN NEWS / YOMIURI

    Takashi Onomura, head of a hunters’ association, shows packed boar meat and raw boar ham in Kamijima, Ehime Prefecture, Japan.

KAMIJIMA, Japan >> Hunters in Kamijima, Ehime Prefecture, Japan, are taking steps to sell the meat of wild boar that were killed because they damage agricultural products in the town.

In August, an association of local hunters began selling raw ham made from wild boars to businesses, as part of measures implemented by the town and prefectural governments to cope with the harmful animals.

This month, the association will start selling raw ham from wild boar to consumers.

Kamijima is on a remote island in the Seto Inland Sea. Wild boar were first seen in the town about 10 years ago. Experts believe they swam to the island from nearby isles.

The boar have eaten citrus fruits, harming agriculture in Kamijima. According to the town government, about 8,000 square meters of farming land were damaged in fiscal 2016, and 290 boars were culled.

Some portions of meat from the exterminated boar had been consumed by individuals, but most of the boar were incinerated.

To better utilize the meat, the government established a boar-meat processing facility in 2012.

The town’s Juniku Shori Kako Kai, an association of about 20 hunters, processes about 150 boars annually and sells the meat.

The meat from wild animals such as boar and deer is called gibier and is popular in Europe. It has also been increasingly popular in Japan in recent years because it is low-calorie and high in protein.

To increase the umami taste of the meat, the association matures it in refrigerators for 10 to 14 days before shipping it out.

The products have been circulated mainly inside the town and are also used for school lunches.

Yoshitaka Kanbara, a 40-year-old chef of French cuisine who won a bronze medal in the Culinary Olympics in 2016, supervised the ham production.

In late August, about 130 cooks in the prefecture gathered in Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, and the association asked them to taste the raw ham. It received high praise, with one saying: “The ham doesn’t have a strange taste. I couldn’t believe it was made from boar.” Many said the ham has a richer umami taste than that made from pigs.

Association head Takashi Onomura, 70, said: “We thoroughly remove the blood so there are no bad odors left in the meat, and only use the parts that are suitable for processing. We’ll make more efforts to improve the quality so the products will continue to receive high praise.”

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