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Kaiseki Journal 3: Seika-no-tenshin

Please visit the first post of Tokyofoodcast Kaiseki Journal 1, Shoburo-no-kaiseki to find out about cha-kaiseki and story behind this series.

Starting sometime around mid-June, all I want to eat is simple cold noodles and salad to battle the unbearable heat and humidity. During the summer, the whole country flees to kakigori, hiyashi chuka, and beer to momentarily escape the heat. I guess the tea world is no exception. The July kaiseki class was light and cold dishes perfect for the hot, humid days.

Seika no Tenshin (summer cha-kaiseki july): cooking lesson


Just looking at the picture, it does not look much, but a lot went in to preparing each dish. Please read on!

July Kaiseki

Theme: Tanabata-no-Tenshin

Summer platter for Tanabata: Light meal before serving tea in the Summer

1. Kuchidori – Yamame shiso maki age

  • Kuchidori is little appetizer or called sakana using this character: 肴.
  • Filleted yamame trout is lightly floured, then wrapped with a shiso leaf and battered before deep frying.
  • I made this dish at home with a cheaper fish, aji. Shiso is a bit tricky at first to fry because it comes off very easily in the oil, but adds a wonderful earthy flavor to the fish

2. Kuchidori – Kinmedai yuzuka yaki

  • Alfonsino is marinated in yuan mix with equal amount of soy sauce, sake, mirin with a bit of yuzu flavor.
  • Then, it is grilled with the skin side up first when using Japanse style top-side grill.
  • When grilling a fish, you are supposed to grill the top side first. Then, always the question comes up: which side is the top side when serving? Skin side or no skin side. The answer? It depends…
  • Yuan yaki is a commonly used term to describe the marinade, a bit in the same way as teriyaki, and often used for fish. In this book, Japanese Cooking By Shizuo Tsuji, he describes the mix and how it is used with chicken.

3. Kuchidori – Shinmaruju mitsu-ni

  • Sweet yam is first cooked with kuchinashi or gardenia seed for subtle orange-red coloring.
  • After cooking, cool it with running water. Then cook again with water and sugar.
  • I tried to find where the name, shinmaruju, came from, but no luck. Anyone have an idea?

4. Kuchidori – Konasu age-ni

  • Tiny eggplant about a little bigger than my thumb is used here after cleaned and several lengthwise cuts are made for chasen-nasu.
  • To prevent discoloring after cooking, treat eggplant with myoban or alum solution first.
  • Deep fry the whole eggplant, then marinate in dashi broth based soup.
  • A lot goes into this simple fried eggplant, but in the hot and humid summer, cold fried nasu with subtle dashi flavor is such a treat!

5. Kuchidori – Smoked salmon tazuna-zushi

  • Japanese yam, sticky and slimy yamaimo is used here instead of rice. Yam is peeled, then steamed. When it is soft enough, put it through a colander, to form paste like lump. It is not quite paste, but more like cooked a bit dry azuki paste.
  • Add sugar and vinegar to the yam paste.
  • On plastic shrink wrap, place the yam in log shape, then wrap it with smoked salmon pieces.
  • I tried this at home and it’s quite time consuming but was easy enough. If you want to give your guests a bit of a surprise, it may be worth the trouble, but I like simple orthodox boring old rolled or pressed sushi with rice and fish better.

6. Kuchidori – Ingenmame goma miso kake

  • Again, this is a very simple and common dish you see everywhere, but with a twist. Longbeans are cooked first, then after cooled, marinated in dashi broth base soup.
  • Sesame, miso, and sesame paste are mixed with sugar and a bit of dashi broth.
  • Longbeans are lined up perfectly with the rich sesame miso paste on top.

7. Kuchidori – Kiwi shira-ae

  • Shira-ae is a term used very often to describe tofu paste creamy textured dressing, commonly used with greens such as spinach. Tofu is drained, made into paste, then dashi or sugar is added depending on what you are mixing with.
  • It is common to see fruit base sweet shira-ae as part of meal. My mother used to mix persimmons with tofu paste and made kaki-no shira-ae all the time. That means, I can care less!

Wan (Main) – Somen

Seika no Tenshin (summer cha-kaiseki july): cooking lesson

Photo: cold somen

  • I always wondered how somen shown in pictures or at high end restaurants are perfectly laid out, unlike any other noodle dish. Now I know the trick!
  • This simple dish also takes a lot of prep. Each item was cooked separately such as perfectly thin layer of tamagoyaki, shiitake mushrooms, and shrimp.
  • Right before serving, cook somen noodles, then cool it immediately with ice. Serve it in cool broth topped with prepared items.

Kaiseki tenshin recipe by Kyoto Cooking Circle

Please also visit other kaiseki posts on Tokyofoodcast:
1. Kaiseki Journal 1: Shoburo-no-kaiseki
2. Kaiseki Journal 2: Minazuki-no-kaiseki


2 Responses to “Kaiseki Journal 3: Seika-no-tenshin”

  1. One of our last meals in Japan before Carlos left on deployment was at Hikage Chaya, a 350-year-old chakaiseki restaurant in Hayama. I have to go back and look at the menu again and see how they ordered and named each course. Thanks for reminding me of this. Photos here:

    Posted by Jocelyn | June 24, 2009, 10:32 am


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