Sunday, May 15, 2005

Obachan's Quasi-Kaiseki

OK, it’s time to show the world the result of my ill-thought project that took me all-afternoon Friday and all day Saturday this weekend. Wondering what this is? This is “quasi-Kaiseki” by a middle-aged woman in Kochi who had nothing better to do this weekend.

( ** I guess I should add this here to be honest and fair to the readers...
Note: I didn't make and eat all of these dishes at one time. I made some on Friday and took photos and ate them then. The rest was prepared/ate on Saturday, some in the morning and some in the afternoon. I made all photos into one kaiseki entry on Sunday ... that's why it's called "quasy-kaiseki." ;P )

The kaiseki course I had with my mom last weekend actually triggered my tempura craving, so my original plan was making tempura and some kind of konatsu dessert this weekend. On Tuesday I made some kinome-miso and had some of it left, so I needed to use it up somehow. Then a crazy idea just popped up in my mind…as usual. What about making some other dishes and making my own virtual kaiseki course on my blog?

Of course I can’t make real, formal kaiseki. That requires professional skills you can acquire only after years of training, and there seem to be numerous traditional rules regarding what kind of dish or bowl should be used for what kind of food in which season, etc. I don’t mean to insult our wonderful tradition by giving it a try without the skill and knowledge…I just wanted to be more familiar with our tradition.

Kaiseki is said to have originated from Zen practice, as explained in this site. As the site says, it is still served at tea ceremony. On the other hand, according to some Japanese websites, “kaiseki” also developed as formal party food as rich samurais or merchants got together for haiku (Japanese poem ) meetings at high-class traditional restaurants in Edo period. Sometimes different Chinese characters are used in writing to distinguish these 2 kinds of kaiseki, but not very strictly.

It seems that the rules for kaiseki at restaurants are more flexible than at tea ceremony. I adopted a very basic (simplified than tea-ceremony kaiseki) course of kaiseki and terminology, but omitted steamed dish.


Obachan's Quasi-Kaiseki
お品書き Menu

前菜/先付けZensai/Sakizuke (Appetizers)
- きゅうりモロミ味噌付け Cucumber with Moromi-miso
- 大根の明太子マヨネーズはさみ Mayonnaise-seasoned mentaiko between Daikon radish slices
- 焼き厚揚げ田楽 -- ゆず味噌・明太マヨネーズ・木の芽味噌 Broiled Atsuage (deep-fried tofu) with yuzu-miso, Mayonnaise-seasoned mentaiko and Kinome-miso

椀/吸い物 Wan/Suimono (Soup Dish)

- えびと枝豆のしんじょ Shrimp dumpling with green soybeans
- 羅臼昆布 Kelp

刺身 Sashimi (Sliced Raw Fish)

- 帆立の刺身Raw Scallop

焼物 Yakimono (Broiled Fish)
- 鮭の木の芽味噌焼き Grilled salmon with kinome-miso

揚物 Agemono (Deep-fried Dish)
- 天麩羅 きす・さつまいも・サヤマメ・うどの芽 Deep-fried sand borer. sweet potatoes, snow peas and udo shoots.

煮物 Nimono (Simmered Dish)
- 筍の土佐煮 Bamboo shoots simmered with dried bonito flakes
- しいたけ Shiitake mushroom
- そらまめ Fava beans

酢の物 Sunomono (Vinegared Dish)

- うどとワカメの酢の物 Udo and Seaweed with vinegar dressing

止め椀 Tome-Wan (Rice, miso soup and pickles)
- 十穀米ごはん Rice with 10 kinds of grains
- みそ汁と香の物 Miso Soup and pickles

水菓子 Mizugashi (Dessert)
- 小夏の淡雪かん Gelatin dessert made from Konatsu oranges


So, everyone, this is the result of my crazy attempt.
I mean, everything didn’t turn out really GREAT, but most things tasted OK, and it just made me feel good to find that I was able to make something that “look like” traditional Japanese dishes. More than anything, it was a fun learning experience. I had fun thinking about which dish/bowl to use for which food and what I can use for garnishing…(I picked some weeds and flowers on the roadside.) Maybe what I did was quite off the wall from a “formal” point of view, but oh well, maybe at least I gave some experts of Japanese cuisine something to laugh about and brightened up their day ;)

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

BTW, I'm eating out tonight... I need a break from cooking :O


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed it very much Obachan! 'hope you enjoyed your night out. 

Posted by ting aling

Anonymous said...

Did you eat all of it.. in one meal..?? i enjoyed all the dishes you made for this meal.. :) Must be alot of work..?? no?? 

Posted by MrsT

Anonymous said...

Wow Obachan! What a lot of work! It all looks incredibly beautiful and delicious. I hope you enjoyed eating all your wonderful creations. 

Posted by Amanda

Anonymous said...

What an elaborative entry Obachan! I love making Japanese food and this entry of yours is such an inspiration. Everything is mouthwatering, GREAT job!!  

Posted by Kristi

Anonymous said...

Hi Obachan,

You did a wonderful "informal" kaiseki. Everything looks so delicious and I admire your patience and perseverance. I would have never taken the time to do something like this, however, now that I have a shokado bento box I have some ideas... 

Posted by Reid

Anonymous said...

***Standing Ovation**** Great job Obachan.. Evrything looks soo good and professional. Almost loest my finger trying that cut with the daikon so now I just resort to my mandolin. 

Posted by keona

Anonymous said...

> ting aling --- I had such a junk-food craving after the kaiseki weekend, so I ended up with Big Mac. LOL!

> MrsT --- No, not in one meal. Actually in real Kaiseki, you eat this much in one meal, being served one dish at a time. So a formal kaiseki dinner usually takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. But to tell you the truth, I made some of these on Friday and ate them then (took photos before eating), made and ate some for lunch Saturday, and the rest for supper Saturday night. I just posted the whole thing as one kaiseki entry. Cheating!! Hahaha….

> Amanda --- Thank you. I certainly enjoyed eating them all. :D

> Kristi --- Oh, thanks. I’m always happy when my post serves as some kind of inspiration for someone.

> Reid --- Thanks for the complement, but as I confessed in my response to MrsT’s comment, the whole work was not done at one time, so I didn’t need that much perseverance. ;P

> keona --- OMG, I feel so honored. My work is by no means professional, though. I bet professional cooks would laugh their heads off if they saw my entry. 

Posted by obachan

Anonymous said...

Woah...that is SO amazing! It must have been hard work making so many different types of dishes. I'm so glad you shared this spectacular meal. ^-^  

Posted by Tea

Anonymous said...

Obachan, everything looks so great. I wish I can learn from you how to cut daikon radish that way.

Posted by Phan

Anonymous said...

Ohmigosh, herai! So impressed, even if you did split up the cooking, hope you enjoyed your well deserved night out! 

Posted by Vivilicious

Anonymous said...

Tea --- Thanks. Well, I guess you noticed that I only chose the dishes that are not too hard to make. These are nothing more than regular meals in average Japanese households and most housewives can make these real quick. But in my case, it was taking pics of those dishes that made it a real time-consuming project….

Phan --- Oh, I’m so flattered. Thank you.

Vivilicious --- I appreciate your nice words. Yep, I enjoyed it ;) 

Posted by obachan

Anonymous said...

Obachan - such amazing dishes, you did a great job (and you made me homesick again)... thank you for the gorgeousl posts. 

Posted by keiko

Anonymous said...

I guess Japanese readers can tell right away that these are just easy, every-day meal dishes, and calling these “kaiseki” is pretty laughable. But anyway, it was fun….maybe it was a “mamagoto asobi” by a grown-up. ;P Sorry about making you homesick.  

Posted by obachan