Chōyō (重陽）is the Japanese term for the Double Ninth Day which falls on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. In Japan, September 9th is Chrysanthemum Day, one of the five seasonal festivals in Japan. To me, today is the most tranquil festival of all five, even compared with the rather quiet nanakusa day on January 7th.
January 7 – Nanakusa no sekku
March 3 – Momo no sekku, Hina matsuri, Girls’ Day
May 5 – Tango no sekku, Boy’s Day
July 7 – Tanabata
September 9 – Chōyō, Kiku no sekku
The September kaiseki menu follows the chrysanthemum theme.
Mukozuke (Fish) – Karei Hosozukuri
- Karei or flounder is first cut thin, then lightly sprinkled with salt.
- Edible chrysanthemum petals are used here. Pick petals and blanch very quickly. Cool them in cold water. Squeeze out excessive liquid.
- To dish up, make a circular cone of thinly sliced flounder. On the side, chrysanthemum and sprouts are added to bring color to the dish.
- Then, wari-shoyu or soy sauce mixed with lemon juice, broth, and sake is poured over the top. In cha-kaiseki, diners do not dip sashimi in soy sauce in a separate dish.
Shiru (Soup) – Awase miso with yamatoimo and snap pea
- In the sequence of cha-kaiseki I learned, different types of miso are used according to the season. Here, two types of miso, red and white, are used.
- Yamatoimo or yam is grated, then made into small flat ball to deep fry.
- Snap peas are cooked in boiling water then cooled in ice water.l
- Finally, yam cake and snap pea are dished up as soup just before serving.
Meshi (Rice) – Ichimonji style
- First serving of rice.
Wan (Main Dish) – Fish somen with shiratama cake
- A lot goes into this somen made of fish paste mixed with egg yolk and a tiny bit of starch! There’s a gadget to shoot a single long spaghetti-like stream of fish paste into a big pot with plenty boiling water to make fish noodles instantly. Once you get the hang of it, it is really fun!
- A small melon is cored, then thinly sliced before cooked in boiling water.
- Refined rice flour is made into small cake by adding water. Then it is cooked in boiling water.
- Finally, everything is assembled before serving, and to finish, top it off with a clear broth. Yuzu peel is lightly grated to liven the dish up.
Takiasase (Simmered Dish) – Togan, shrimp yoshino-ni and shungiku with grated ginger
- Sliced and boiled tougan or winter melon (also sometimes translated as wax gourd).
- Peeled and devein shrimp, then butterfly before coating with starch, and cooking in broth.
- Bitter greens, garland chrysanthemum is boiled in hot water.
- The final touch is beautifully arranging grated ginger around the dish.
Shiizakana (Dish for nihonshu) – Mixed mushrooms with goma
- Shiitake mushrooms are sliced in half, then grilled.
- Shimeji and maitake mushrooms are lightly boiled.
- All mushrooms are mixed in white semame-based sauce made by adding sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and a bit of broth.