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A few Notes on our Japanese week


KAISEKI EXPLAINED

The kanji characters used to write "kaiseki" (懐石) literally mean "breast-pocket stone". These kanji are thought to have been incorporated by Sen no Rikyū (1522–1591), to indicate the frugal meal served in the austere style of chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony). The idea came from the practice where Zen monks would ward off hunger by putting warm stones into the front folds of their robes, near their stomachs. Before these kanji started to be used, the kanji for writing the word were simply ones indicating that the cuisine was for a gathering (会席料理). Both sets of kanji remain in use today to write the word; the authoritative Japanese dictionary 'Kōjien' describes kaiseki (literally, "cuisine for a gathering") as a banquet meal where the main beverage is sake (Japanese rice wine), and the "bosom-stone" cuisine as the simple meal served in chanoyu. To distinguish between the two in speech and if necessary in writing, the chanoyu meal may be referred to as "tea" kaiseki, or cha-kaiseki.


Kaiseki has a unique origin as a special meal that used to be enjoyed before the tea ceremonies. It was originally served as a light meal which was prepared by the host of the tea ceremony to welcome guests.

Based on this origin, they keep three elements for kaiseki, 1. seasonal ingredients, 2. simple seasoning, and 3. present it with care.

They cook to make out the best part of the seasonal ingredients with simple seasoning and serve them on elegant plates.


TSUKIDASHI – APPETIZERS All different kinds of cold delicacies are served as appetizer. All the delicacies are seasonal, except for one. Just one of the foods will be chosen ahead of season to remind the diner of pleasures to come.


TSUKURI – RAW COURSE Tsukura, meaning ‘creation’, is the restaurant term for sashimi. The word sashimi refers to cutting, which is an old and distinguished art in Japan. Each chef takes care of his knife like a knight does his sword. Usually three different kinds of sashimi.


OWAN – SOUP After the appetizers comes a very solemn and traditional course, the soup. This is the test of a good cook. If the soup is good, it means the chef knows how to make the basic stock – dashi. The soup is filled with at least three softly simmered solid ingredients of complementing flavours and contrasting colours. Most of the ingredients are sliced and cut, but traditionally one of them is left whole.


YAKIMONO – GRILLED COURSE Originally yakimono was made of the trimmings and lesser parts of ingredients left over from other courses. Nowadays yakimono is no longer made with scraps – quite the opposite. Grilled food is often marinated and basted, as in teriyaki.


SHIIZAKANA – CHEF’S CHOICE Sakana means ‘drinking snack’ and is to be eaten next to a cup of sake. Shiizakana means ‘strong drinking dish’ and can be anything the chef fancies.


SHOKUJI – THE MEAL Rice, soup and pickles – the holy trinity that forms the basis of the Japanese meal – are served at the end in the kaiseki cuisine. The Japanese know and appreciate this, but many non-Japanese guests feel awkward about eating soup at the end of a meal.


MIZUKASHI – DESSERT Traditionally no dessert is served with a Japanese meal, even though the Western custom of finishing off with some fresh fruit or ice cream has now also become widespread in Japan, especially in restaurants.



THE INGREDIENTS

Yuzu

Yuzu (Citrus junos) is a hybrid citrus fruit also known as yuja. It originated in China over 1,000 years ago and now grows in Japan, Korea, and other parts of the world. Here are 3 main health benefits of the Yuzu!

1. Highly nutritious; Vitamin C: 59%, Vitamin A: 31%, Thiamine: 5%, Vitamin B6: 5%, Vitamin B5: 4% (for 100g)

2. Contains powerful antioxidants; Diets rich in antioxidants are thought to reduce your risk of brain ailments, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer

3. May improve blood flow; Two flavonoids in Yuzu may help reduce blood clotting. This may improve blood flow and reduce your risk of heart disease, though further research is needed.


Daikon

Daikon radishes are without a doubt a super-vitamin source. They give a variety of crucial vitamins, minerals, and health benefits. From aiding in weight loss and boosting liver function to controlling blood pressure and lowering diabetes risk, these adaptable veggies can do wonders for our health.


Taro

Taro root is an excellent source of dietary fiber and good carbohydrates, which both improve the function of your digestive system and can contribute to healthy weight loss. Its high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and vitamin E also help to maintain a healthy immune system and may eliminate free radicals.


Lily bulbs

All plants in the Lilium genus are edible, and all parts of the plant can be eaten. The young shoots, the leaves, and the flowers. But what is most nourishing is the bulb of this beautiful plant. Some lily species have been harvested for their bulbs for thousands of years


Mizuna

Packed with anti-inflammatory properties: Mizuna contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.


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