Kaiseki, the traditional multi-course meal, is considered to be the finest that exists in Japanese cuisine. A meticulously prepared meal which also happens to be use the most expensive Japanese food. Kaiseki is elaborate to say the least.
Kaiseki is high cuisine, sophisticated cuisine, much like the French Haute cuisine. A traditional Kaiseki meal can have over 14 courses.
Kaiseki restaurants in Japan offer guests a private room to sit in. And the room often has the view of a beautiful Japanese garden. As far as recipes go, there is no certain recipe for a Kaiseki meal. Each meal is created individually by a master chef. It starts with Cha-kaiseki,which is usually the food with which the host or the master of the tea ceremony meets the guests. Cha-kaiseki is low in calories. The meal is designed in such a way that you can enjoy the flavours of every season with all your five senses and eat all of the courses.
The meal typically includes rice, soup and a few boiled side dishes, which are served with Sake (Japanese wine).
How is it made?
Every item of the Kaiseki meal has a prescribed order to it. The chefs that prepare the meal have complete freedom to add, remove, or replace ingredients as they see fit, in order to draw special attention to a particular seasonal delicacy.
Every season, the chef in charge of preparing kaiseki, sources local ingredients and cooks small gastronomical delights that highlight the flavours of the ingredients and the richness of Japanese cuisine.
How is it served?
The principle of “True Hospitality” which is based on Zen teachings is followed by the host.
“True Hospitality” is based on the old Zen principle of “ichiza konryu” (one time, one meeting). The entire tea ceremony (of which Kaiseki is a part) is focused on one central activity - the appreciation of beauty, purity and inner peace found in nature and within oneself.
The meal begins with appetisers which are served on a 25 cm rectangular tray. The appetizers are named according to the shape of the tray. Since the shape is rectangular, they are called “Hassun” (Eight Sun), “sun” is the measure of length here. Divided into four categories namely, “seafood”, “food from the mountains”, “animals” and “plants”, the appetisers are purposely made using ingredients that are very different from each other.
A cup of sake is served on the same tray with the appetisers. The sake is passed around the participants of the tea ceremony - from the guest of honour to the host, from the host to another guest and back to the host, then to the next guest and so on. This manner of passing the sake around is called 'Chidori no sakazuki'. The aim of this practice is to bring the participants closer together.
How to make your own Kaiseki meal:
Start off with a taking stock of your location and the season during which you are serving the kaiseki. For instance, if you live in a place where seafood is not easily available, you can omit the seafood from the menu. And if you’re hosting the ceremony in winter, you can use winter vegetables and so on.
Futamono (a bowl of soup or hearty stew)
Though other varieties of the Futamono exist, we decided to share the recipe of Aubergine Futamono with you.
Arrange some pieces of the aubergine in soup bowls, pour the cold soup on them, garnish with grated ginger.
Gohan – flavoured rice dish
How to make Takikomi Gohan with Chicken.
It’s ready to serve now.
Toriniku Yasai Maki (Rolled chicken and vegetables)
Dashimaki Tamago (Rolled omelette with dashi)
Kudamono no Karashi-sumiso-ae (Seasonal Fruits with mustard-miso sauce)
For the dressing:
Mitsuba-no-Aemono (Marinate salmon & trefoil)
Eringi-no-Yakimono (Grilled Eringi-mushroom with Ponzu-sauce)
It’s ready for serving.
There you go. Those were the recipes that we think will compliment your tea ceremony. We hope you like cooking and serving them as much as we’ve liked sharing them with you.
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