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Hiroyuki

Getting kaiseki into my cooking

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I have decided to try to get kaiseki into my cooking. That's why I bought this book: KAISEKI The Exquisite Cuisine of Kyoto's Kikunoi Restaurant, written by Yoshihiro Murata.

I'm NOT interested in making kaiseki dishes themselves. I just want to put some elements of kaiseki to my dishes.

The book arrived yesterday, and the explanation of dashi on page 161 has been the most intriguing part of the book so far. So, today, I decided to follow the author's way of making dashi, which he thinks is the best way.

He says soft water is essential to making dashi. You can't extract the glutamic acid from kombu with water with a hardness of more than 60 ppm of calcium carbonate.

Another interesting fact is that you cannot extract the glutamic acid from kombu over 176 F (80 C) and the optimum temperature for extraction is 140 F (60 C).

Here is a brief description of the method. (The original recipe is for 1.8 liters of soft water. I modified it for half the water.)

0.9 liter soft water

15 g kombu

25 g shaved bonito flakes

1. Wipe kombu with a moist towel.

2. Put water in a pot and add kombu. Set the pan to very low heat until 140 F (60 C). Keep it at 140 F for 1 hour.

3. Remove kombu.

4. Raise the temp to 176 F (80 C). DON'T BOIL. Turn off heat.

5. Add bonito flakes and leave them for 10 seconds.

5. Strain through a fine sieve covered with cheese clooth. DON'T SQUEEZE.

NOTE: For more detailed explanation of dashi, please buy the book or browse it at a bookstore. :biggrin:

Here are some photos of my dashi making.

Kombu, bonito flakes, and thermometer:

gallery_16375_4595_14547.jpg

This is how I kept the water at 60 C:

gallery_16375_4595_63483.jpg

First wrap the pot in a towel and then newspaper. This worked well. The temperature dropped to only 50 C after 1 hour.

Kombu dashi:

gallery_16375_4595_6777.jpg

Kombu and bonito dashi:

gallery_16375_4595_25985.jpg

I didn't use a cheese cloth, so the dashi contained bits of bonito flakes. :sad:

I made tsukudani, using the used kombu and bonito flakes and some sesame seeds.

gallery_16375_4595_96303.jpg

(This container with a lid is that of Kinshobai, a very expensive furikake.)

http://www.kinshobai.co.jp/

I made clear soup with the dashi, adding dried shiitake mushroom and a beaten egg:

gallery_16375_4595_1023.jpg

Really tasty! :wub: Ryotei (traditional Japanese restaurant)-quality soup! My children said it was good (oishii in Japanese). (I know something is missing - Garnish. I didn't want to buy expensive mitsuba!)

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You should buy expensive mitsuba...with roots! :biggrin:

Cut all the stems off (and use them) leaving about 5cm or so, stick the roots in water (or even better in a pot of soil that you can put outside in spring).

Seri can be grown the same way, in a jar or bucket half filled with soil and topped up with water.

That way you will always have a few leaves of mitsuba for soup.

So how did the flavor of the dashi made at lower temperature compare to the flavor of "boiled" dashi?

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I'm curious, too, how the flavor compared. I have the book and enjoy just reading through it but have never tried any of the recipes. They almost all call for ingredients that are very difficult or impossible to obtain in this rural area. Lots of rather complicated techniques, too.

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The important question:

Was the dashi so good that you would make it this way every time you made dashi?

Helen,

my MIL used to do this with mitsuba, she would stick the roots in a glass of water and leave it on the windowsill of her kitchen. I never thought about actually planting them. I tried to grow mitsuba once from seed and it didn't work very well, of course I don't have a very green thumb either.


Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Helen: Milder, I would say, but to be honest, I'm not qualified to describe the difference in flavor because I have made dashi in a proper way a few times only in my life and, as you know, I usually use instant dashi. :raz:

Anyway, this way of making dashi reminded me of the Matsuya paper drip method, which is intended to extract only flavorful components from coffee beans.

Thanks for the tip on growing mitsuba. I will plant some mitsuba this year, as I did two years ago.

BarbaraY: Don't just read the book! As I implied in my first post here, I'm not interested in exactly following all those recipies in the book. I think I'll skip all those less common and expensive items like sea urchin and milt (I don't like them anyway).

Kristin: Of course NOT!! That will probably be for special days only. After all, kaiseki is what you eat on a special day, right? I don't want to have tsukudani made with used kombu and bonito flakes every day and I don't want to just throw them away, either. :smile:

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One of the boring things about kaiseki is that the dessert served at the end of an expensive course is mizu gashi* (literally, watery confection), which is some kind of fruit, usually a seasonal one.

* Some Japanese mistakenly think that mizu gashi include other types of dessert like youkan and kanten.

Things are changing, and many kaiseki restaurants now serve desserts other than fruit.

Interestingly, Murata uses the term mizu mono (literally watery thing) in his book, instead of mizu gashi.

Yesterday, I made three types of sorbet:

gallery_16375_4595_59406.jpg

Left to right: Kyoho (grape often called the king of grapes), peach, and kiwi fruit

My parents kindly send us various types of fruit. We appreciate it, but it can sometimes be just too much for a family of four. Last year, they sent us frozen kyoho, fresh natsu mikan (a type of citrus), frozen peaches (previously simmered with sugar), and fresh kiwi fruits. I thought that making sorbet would be a good way to finish them off.

They also sent us hoshi gaki (dried persimmons), some of which were moldy and were not very appetizing.

Today, I washed them all under running water. I thought of making a kind of youkan, but I ended up putting them in the freezer.

gallery_16375_4595_33005.jpg

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The dashi was so good that I made it again today. For lunch, I made ramen using 300 ml of the dashi. I combined it with soy sauce at a ratio of 12:1, which resulted in a great broth for ramen. I topped the ramen with some bacon (heated in the toaster oven), kamaboko, shredded kombu (instead of boiled spinach), and negi.

gallery_16375_4595_11677.jpg

Nothing like home-made ramen with subtle flavor. :smile:

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Hiroyuki, you inspired me to try something kaiseki. I bought kumquats thinking that I would make sorbet but when I tasted one found that they aren't very good as the skin is very bitter and the meat is almost dry. Very low juice content. Maybe I will simmer them in syrup because they couldn't possibly make good sorbet.

I can usually eat a handful or so of them but not these.

If I find kiwis in my CSA bag tomorrow I may try using them.

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Hiroyuki, you inspired me to try something kaiseki. I bought kumquats thinking that I would make sorbet but when I tasted one found that they aren't very good as the skin is very bitter and the meat is almost dry. Very low juice content. Maybe I will simmer them in syrup because they couldn't possibly make good sorbet.

I can usually eat a handful or so of them but not these.

If I find kiwis in my CSA bag tomorrow I may try using them.

THANKS!!

The peach one came out the best of the three. My children both said that the kiwi one tasted bitter. :sad: The grape one tasted rather stale because the grapes themselves were stale probably due to longtime storage in the freezer.

Since I started to study kaiseki in earnest, I've been constantly overwhelmed by the sheer amount and diversity of work I have to do. The subject of kaiseki is so elusive! :sad: I have to learn the spirit of kaiseki, different types of kaiseki, Sen no Rikyu, wabi-sabi, and much much more. :wacko:

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...so the thought of studying kaiseki is in itself enough to get you into a properly humble frame of mind? :biggrin:

Kiwifruit sorbet - those tiny black seeds can be bitter (or rather harsh) and irritating to the throat if they are crushed (i.e. don't put them in a blender(mixer)). I think they are not so harsh cooked as when they are raw.

That bacon ramen looks like a good way to use your kaiseki knowhow!

Kumquats - simmer in shochu (rice spirits) to get them mellow but not bland.

I wonder if there's a preference for fruits of Chinese origin in kaiseki, or just whatever looks most luxurious?

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...so the thought of studying kaiseki is in itself enough to get you into a properly humble frame of mind?  :biggrin:

I'm still in the process of making a "desk study" of kaiseki. In other words, I'm still making a "kaiseki" (analysis) of kaiseki! I know I must have some real experience with kaiseki (both two types of kaiseki 懐石 and 会席) some day. This thread is going to be the only reliable source of information about kaiseki available in English. :cool:

***

I used the rest of the dashi, which I made on Jan. 9, to make dipping sauce for soba: I combined it with soy sauce and mirin (well, fake mirin, to be exact) at a ratio of 4:1:1. I used it on that day (Jan. 9), which was a terrible mistake. The acute flavor of soy sauce was rather off-putting. I put the remaining dipping sauce in the fridge, and when I tasted it three days later, it tasted much milder.

I used the remaining dipping sauce to make simmered daikon. I wanted to try the technique that I had learned from a famous TV show, Me Ga Ten.

At Nadaman (famous Japanese restaurant), they first simmer daikon rings in "kome no togi jiru" (milky water resulting from washing uncooked rice) for 30 minutes, put them in cold water, and then simmer in soy sauce-flavored dashi for another 30 minutes. They leave the pot at room temperature for 8 hours to let the dashi seep through the daikon before serving. Me Ga Ten staff succeeded in shortening the time required to let the dashi seep through to only 1 hour by wrapping the pot in aluminum foil first, followed by newspaper and a bath towel.

I first simmered daikon rings in water plus a small amount (about 1 tbsp) of rice (instead of "kome no togijiru") for 5 minutes, took them out, and put them in a pot of the remaining dipping sauce plus an equal amount of water. I simmered them for 30 minutes. Then I wrapped the pot in newspaper only (omitted the aluminum foil and the bath towel). I took out some from the pot 30 minutes later. They were in good condition, with the dashi having seeped almost through the core.

I used the nibandashi (#2 dashi) to make miso soup. I didn't add additional bonito flakes (oi-gatsuo in Japanese). It was so weak that I had to add some instant dashi. :sad:

Edited to add:

Tonight, I made "furikake" (maybe I should call it "tsukudani"), using the used kombu and bonito flakes plus two cans of mackerel and sesame seeds.


Edited by Hiroyuki (log)

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You should buy expensive mitsuba...with roots! :biggrin:

Cut all the stems off (and use them) leaving about 5cm or so, stick the roots in water (or even better in a pot of soil that you can put outside in spring).

Seri can be grown the same way, in a jar or bucket half filled with soil and topped up with water.

That way you will always have a few leaves of mitsuba for soup.

So how did the flavor of the dashi made at lower temperature compare to the flavor of "boiled" dashi?

Thanks Helen for this info. Can you do this with other herbs?

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This thread is going to be the only reliable source of information about kaiseki available in English. :cool:

I was wrong. I found this comprehensive website about chado (sado), which explains in detail the difference between the two types of kaiseki. And, I'm very glad about this because I don't have to spell out everything about kaiseki.

Ryori-ya Kaiseki

One explanation has it that when, during the second half of the Edo period, tea houses and ryokan in the pleasure quarter started serving sake and food to go with it, they used the same words "kaiseki" to describe the cuisine, using the Chinese characters (会席) for "meeting place." In order to prevent any misunderstanding, Tea people of the time began using the more esoteric Zen characters (壊石) for "breast stone," in reference to the monks' use of warmed stones to sooth the pangs of hunger. Combining the best parts of honzen and cha kaiseki, ryori-ya kaiseki is extravagant like honzen and fresh from the kitchen like chakaiseki, but without the rules, purpose, or social considerations that guide the other two.

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Tonight, I had dinner with relatives (ten people in total) at a kappo restaurant nearby. The dinner was not necessarily a kaiseki course, but it was somewhat similar to what I want to make on a special day. So, here are some photos of it.

First, otoshi (dish that is served if you order an alcoholic drink):

gallery_16375_4595_85739.jpg

Horse mackerel nanban zuke

Home-made sesame dofu

Chinese cabbage ohitashi topped with ito togarashi (lit. thread red pepper)

Kanpachi carpaccio (2 servings):

gallery_16375_4595_39198.jpg

Sashimi (2 servings):

gallery_16375_4595_13276.jpg

Nanban ebi aka ama ebi

Horse mackerel

Kuromutsu (Scombrops gilberti)

On yasai (hot vegetables) (2 servings):

gallery_16375_4595_38710.jpg

Steamer with the lid removed:

gallery_16375_4595_39359.jpg

Dipping sauce:

gallery_16375_4595_8752.jpg

which contains onsen tamago and cheese.

Deep-fried chicken (2 servings):

gallery_16375_4595_56820.jpg

Sushi (2 servings):

gallery_16375_4595_8685.jpg

Kinme dai (Beryx splendens)

Tuna

Squid topped with a bit of caviar

Udon:

gallery_16375_4595_33342.jpg

Dessert:

gallery_16375_4595_27715.jpg

The waitress said it was coffee jelly (if I heard her right), but it was custard pudding with coffee, with some gold foil on top.

Overall, a good value for 3,000 yen (exluding drinks)

I'm thinking of holding a kaiseki party this spring, and I got some ideas from the dinner.

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What a lovely meal!

I'm curious about the creamy looking topping on the fried chicken and are the red droplets pomegranate?

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What a lovely meal!

I'm curious about the creamy looking topping on the fried chicken and are the red droplets pomegranate?

Thanks for your comments. I wasn't critical of the dinner last night because I was drunk, but now that I'm sober, I tend to be somewhat critical of it. Too much Western influence, and I'm not very interested in a fusion cusine.

The topping was tartar sauce, and the red ones tasted like red pepper. I was too drunk to ask the waitress what they were :sad: .

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LOL. Tartar sauce with chicken is just too weird. Red peppers could be OK.

I thought onsen tamago and cheese sounded a bit odd, too.

Looks like you had a good time.:biggrin:

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I've been mulling over the menu you had too!

I came to the conclusion that while I'm not sure that western ingredients should be banned (the court-style kaiseki must have had quite big influences from Chinese food and dining customs long ago), but I agree that the cheese and custard didn't seem to fit the menu well - didn't the custard seem a bit rich to finish the meal with?

Please keep us updated on your analysis and your cooking both! My kaiseki book is way out of date, so I'm curious to see how you will approach kaiseki in 2008.

One thing that especially interests me - there is that "double" history of kaiseki, as formal Court-style dining, and then re-invented by Rikyuu as part of the tea-ceremony. But they are linked by the idea of food prepared or served by the host in his or her home as a strong expression of hospitality. In Japan, the idea of inviting guests to eat home-cooked food was an uncomfortable one for a long time - when I first came to Japan, people were talking about "home party" in katakana, as a new idea, and as something that was more approachable than the idea of serving a formal Japanese meal at home.

Do you think your own plans are more in the tea-ceremony style - local, sincere, retaining a feeling of simplicity - or in the formal style - rare, sophisticated, the best of everything?

And how does your view of kaiseki affect your choice of ingredients, serving, guest seating etc?

(Of course, if you answer all these questions, you won't have time to cook!).

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I came to the conclusion that while I'm not sure that western ingredients should be banned (the court-style kaiseki must have had quite big influences from Chinese food and dining customs long ago), but I agree that the cheese and custard didn't seem to fit the menu well - didn't the custard seem a bit rich to finish the meal with?

I don't think that western ingredients should be banned, but I do think that at a kappo restaurant, dishes should be lightly seasoned. The rich onsen tamago-and-cheese and tartar sauces in the two dishes were surely palate-numbing. I didn't find the custard pudding was so rich, but the coffee was bitter! I forgot to mention that we were served houji cha (roasted greeen tea) together with the custard pudding with coffee.

Please keep us updated on your analysis and your cooking both! My kaiseki book is way out of date, so I'm curious to see how you will approach kaiseki in 2008.

I haven't made much progress in my cooking; I've been too busy. As for my analysis, I'm glad to say that I have gotten out of the situation where the more I read, the more confused I get. Now I know that almost all sources on information about kaiseki, both in Japanese and English, are inappropriate, to say the least.

Even Wikipedia is no exception.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaiseki

Kaiseki literally means "stone in the bosom", and refers to a practice where Zen monks would ward off hunger by putting warm stones into the folds of their obi. The term came to mean a light vegetarian meal served after a tea ceremony, possibly referring to the simple meals that monks ate which staved off hunger as much as a warm stone did.

Correction: Not after but before.

One thing that especially interests me - there is that "double" history of kaiseki, as formal Court-style dining, and then re-invented by Rikyuu as part of the tea-ceremony. But they are linked by the idea of food prepared or served by the host in his or her home as a strong expression of hospitality. In Japan, the idea of inviting guests to eat home-cooked food was an uncomfortable one for a long time - when I first came to Japan, people were talking about "home party" in katakana, as a new idea, and as something that was more approachable than the idea of serving a formal Japanese meal at home.

I know. That's especially true in urban areas. Who wants to invite guests to their cramped little houses? Another factor is that treating guests well means to serve them overwhealming number and amount of dishes.

Do you think your own plans are more in the tea-ceremony style - local, sincere, retaining a feeling of simplicity - or in the formal style - rare, sophisticated, the best of everything?

Neither. The more I learn about the initial type, "cha kaiseki", the more reluctant I become to follow it. The same goes for "kyo kaiseki" (Kyoto-style kaiseki), discussed in the book I mentioned upthread. I think I'll develop my own style of kaiseki.

And how does your view of kaiseki affect your choice of ingredients, serving, guest seating etc?

One element of kaiseki I can't ignore is seasonality, and I want to use ingredients in seasons (shun), and I'd like to include some hashiri (first-run ingredient?) and nanokori (ingredient slightly out of season?), if possible, to express seasonal changes. Another element I can't ignore is the variety of serving dishes. I think I have to spend some time and money on them.

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For those of you who can read Japanese, I highly recommend the March 2008 issue of Jiyujin. It contains everything you need to know about kaiseki and much more.

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Hey everyone,

 

I wanted to comment on this very old thread as I also want to start bringing the influences of Japan and Kaiseki into my cooking and had some quick questions. 

 

Is this Kaiseki cookbook mentioned in the beginning still the best book on Kaiseki cooking? I know it is a restaurant cookbook, but looks like it also gives the general basis for modern day Kaiseki cooking. 

 

Are there other sources out there? More recent?

 

Has anyone apart from Jo read the Japanese Culinary Academy books? Volume 1 and 2 interest me the most, starting with volume 1. Does that contain mich Kaiseki info?

 

Thank you!

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This book arrived in the mail this morning. I ordered a used copy so it was quite inexpensive and it is in excellent condition.

 

I doubt there is a thing I will make from this book. Sourcing the ingredients and undertaking the techniques is probably nothing I’m prepared to even attempt.  That doesn’t for a second impair my ability to enjoy the photographs, the explanations and even to read through some of the recipes.

 

 

 

 

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