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Kaiseki Journal 4: Asa chaji no kaiseki

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

The asacha tea gathering is held early in the morning to avoid the summer’s sweltering heat. Or, at least, the idea is to avoid the midday sun and heat that makes it hard to breathe, just like when you step into a sauna. Imagine the heat from the air combined with burning coal and boiling water in an iron pot in a small tea room!

The ceremony starts around 6:00 am and I wonder what time the host starts to prepare for the early morning. One answer I got from my sensei is around 4:00 am.

The August kaiseki menu was rather simple and light for asa chaji.

August Kaiseki

Theme: Asa chaji no kaiseki

Kaiseki meal for early morning tea gathering.

Mukozuke (Fish) Ayu kazebosi mizore-ae

  • Ayu or sweetfish is first filleted then dried for a few hours, next lightly grilled.
  • Then, the grilled fish is broken into small pieces by hand.
  • The fish is mixed with grated daikon, chopped mitsuba, lemon juice, and soy sauce.
  • I use any dried fish, such as kamasu or aji to make this refreshing and easy summer dish.

Shiru (Soup) Aka miso with nagaimo and okura

  • Aka miso or dark miso is used during the summer. According to the season, different types of miso are used or mixed.
  • Nagaimo or yam and okra are cooked individually first.
  • Finally, vegetables are dished up and misoshiru is added just before serving.

Meshi (Rice) Ichimonji style

  • First serving of rice.

Wan (Main Dish) Tamagodofu with ebi and little melon

  • Tamagodofu here is just like custard. Eggs are mixed with dashi stock. A bit of nori or seaweed is added, then the mix is poured in a container. After the bubbles on the surface go away, the custard like mix is steamed with medium heat.
  • Little melon is cored, then thinly sliced before cooked in boiling water.
  • Shrimp is cooked and cut in half if necessary
  • Finally, everything is assembled before serving and to finish, pour clear broth.

Shiizakana (Dish for nihonshu) Uzaku

  • This is a very refreshing eel and cucumber salad with vinaigrette.
  • Eel is grilled with sweet kabayaki sauce. Then, slice it into small bite-sized pieces.
  • Seed the cucumber, then slice very thin. Just like making kyuuri-no-su-no-mono, sprinkle salt and squeeze to lightly drain excessive water.
  • Mix sliced eel and cucumber with vinegar, dashi stock, soy sauce and mirin.
  • White wood ear mushroom and finely julianned ginger are added here to add texture and zing to the dish.

About Asa chaji page 105 of An Introduction to Japanese tea ritual

Page 105, An introduction to Japanese tea ritual By Jennifer Lea Anderson

Please also visit our previous kaiseki journal posts!


Kaiseki Journal 1: Shoburo-no-kaiseki

Kaiseki Journal 2: Minazuki-no-kaiseki
Kaiseki Journal 3: Seika-no-tenshin

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