Andy Anderson's Morning Kaiseki

A Set of Angicised Kaiseki Recipes

Kaiseki is the stylised banquet from Japan which arose from the tea ceremony. I once described it as trying to cook the Times Crossword: it's a real challenge in a domestic kitchen and you very quickly gain an appreciation of why it's such an expensive way to eat in the UK. I've got a collection of crockery, which I add to when I see pieces I like, in much the same way as friends go to garden centres and buy plants. The first time I tried to cook a complete Kaiseki it took me all day to prepare a meal for two. Now I can cook one for four people in under three hours, and even my mother and father-in-law have been known to say that they enjoyed eating it.

But, you don't need to have the crockery, or to cook all nine courses. Try just one or two dishes, maybe as a starter.

These recipes are inspired by Japanese cuisine, but are not Japanese. The style uses the best of fresh ingredients, carefully selected. It adds the skill and personality of the cook, whose aim is to bring out the best of those ingredients, recognising them for what they are rather than trying to change them.

Although many exotic ingredients can be used in this style of cooking, you don't have to use them. It is much better to high quality ingredients which are locally available and thus give the dishes a sense of place. Above all, cook the ingredients to the best of your ability, using all of you skill. As the Kyoto chef says:

"To grill a fish, the chef's whole self should concentrate on grilling the fish: simply cooking, not trying also to compose a list of things to do at work tomorrow."

These are a set of recipes for a July Morning Kaiseki. Each month has its own associated seasonal touches, called "Shun". At the height of the summer, tea traditionally is served just after dawn. The meal is small, simple and cold, consisting perhaps of a small amount of dried fish, some tofu, kelp and an egg variation. Utensils of glass and bamboo will give everything a look of freshness and coolness to balance the oppressive feeling of the heat.

I'm in the process of writing a book about cooking vegetarian Kaiseki, and this set of recipes was written out in full, for my long-suffering wife to cook from, to see whether anyone else could understand my instructions. Well, it worked, so here I present them for your criticism.

SIMPLY COOKING
 
Q - What did the Zen Monk say to the Hot Dog Salesman ?
A - Make me one with everything.

Basic Recipes

Gohan (rice)

Sticky Rice Balls in Thickened Dashi

Take half a cup of Short Grain rice and boil it. Cover with about twice the volume of boiling water in a casserole and microwave on high for seven minutes. Wash through the lid of a bamboo steamer and set aside in a bowl. When cool, make cakes of the rice using a small pastry cutter. Set aside in the serving bowls. Mix a teaspoonful of cornflour and dissolve it in cold water. Take a cup of the Dashi (in this menu the dashi is also flvoured with mushroom from the pickle manufacture) and bring it to the boil. Stir in the cornflour and simmer until thickened. Set aside in a cup and pour over the rice cakes just before serving.

Misoshiru (miso soup)

Cold Red Miso and Potato Cream Soup

Take a large potato and chop it into inch cubes. Place a little oil in the bottom of a casserole and microwave on high for one minute. Add the potato and microwave on high for three minutes. Stir and microwave for a further three minutes or until soft.

Put the potato into the blender with the cutting blade. Add a cup of milk and mash the potato into the milk. Bring a cup of water to the boil and stir in two tablespoonsful of red miso.

Cut two tomatoes into water-lillies and place in the serving bowls. Set the soup aside and stir it vigorously before pouring over the tomatoes to serve.

Wanmori (piled up lacquer bowl)

Eggplant and Green Beans in Ginger Soya Stock.

Simmer a large aubergine for five minutes in unsalted water. Set aside to cool, reserving the liquid for the dashi. When cool, peel and slice into half inch julienne.

Pith the green beans and slice diagonally, discarding the ends. Blanche for three minutes in boiling water. Set aside the vegetables in cold water. Use a cup of dashi for the sauce, Add coarsely chopped ginger and a chopped clove of garlic, together with a tablespoonful of soy sauce.

To serve, place the vegetables in the serving bowls. Bring the sauce back to the boil and pour over the vegetables. Microwave the dishes on high for one minute.

Mikozuki (just beyond)

Marbled Eggs in Vintner's Butter with Vinegar.

Hard Boil two eggs for seven minutes, then take the eggs out and plunge them into ice-cold water. When cool, crack the shells all over and return to boiling water. Add a brown tea-bag and simmer for about twenty minutes. Return to the iced water, when cool, shell and set aside.

Just before serving, quarter the eggs and make the vintner's butter. Put about an once of butter into a pan and clarify it. Stir in one egg-yolk, then add a little wine and the vinegar from the mushrooms. Stir until thick and pour over the eggs.

Yakimono (broiled food)

Braised Tofu in Sesame and White Wine Sauce

Cut and press the tofu slices.

Heat the flat-bottomed frying-pan. season with a very little sesame oil.

Sprinkle salt on both flat sides of the tofu and place in the pan. Move the slices around with a wooden spatula so that they do not stick, and sear until just slightly brown. Turn over. Pour in the sesame seeds and continue to stir the tofu slices until just starting to crisp on the other side. Add a cup of white wine.

Serve immediately the wine has heated through.

Hashiarai (chopstick wash)

Dashi Soup with Vodka and chopped spring onions.

Chop the tender portions of two spring onions, place in the bottom of a glass and cover with a measure of vodka in each. Reserve a cup of the dashi to add to each glass just before serving. Stir the hashiarai before serving.

Hassun (eight inches)

Pickled Dry-Braised Mushrooms

Quarter the mushrooms leaving the stems on. Heat the wok and sprinkle salt onto the surface. Put the mushrooms in the wok and stir round, adding a little more salt, until the mushrooms are about half their original size. Take out the mushrooms and place in a cup. Cover with white wine vinegar.

Cold Rice Noodles

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the noodles, return to the boil and simmer for one minute. Remove from the boil, stir, cover and set aside for five minutes. Pour through the bamboo lid, retaining the boiling water for the dashi. Rinse in very cold water. Set aside covered with cold water and chill.

Before serving, pour off the vinegar from the mushrooms, to use in the vintner's butter for the marbled eggs. Serve the noodles and mushrooms on the same dish.

Konomono (something fragrant)

Pickled Courgettes and Sweet and Sour Onions

Slice the courgettes into wedges and salt them. Set aside for two hours. Wash, pat dry and cover with white wine vinegar.

Finely chop half an onion. Put a small amount of oil into the bottom of a casserole and microwave on high for one minute. Add the onion and microwave on high for one minute. Sieve the onion and wash in cold water. Pat dry and cover with red wine vinegar. Leave for two hours. Stir and add sugar to taste.

Before serving, pour off the vinegar from the courgette slices.

Okashi or Kudamono (sweets or fruit)

Apricots in Green Tea

Prepare the green tea and chill it. Stone and quarter the apricots. Pour the chilled tea over the fruit and serve.

Method

or
 
how to make sense of his lot and cook all nine courses without going mad

Prepare the dashi - turn the slow cooker onto high. Boil half a pint of water, place the kombu into the slow cooker caserole and cover with the water. Microwave at 700W for six minutes, then return to the slow cooker.

Hard Boil two eggs for seven minutes, then take the eggs out and plunge them into ice-cold water. When cool, crack the shells all over and return to boiling water. Add a brown tea-bag and simmer for about twenty minutes.

Slice the courgettes into wedges and salt them. Set aside for two hours. Chop the tender portions of two spring onions, place in the bottom of a glass and cover with a measure of vodka in each.

Take the top and tip off the aubergine. Simmer it for five minutes in unsalted water. Set the aubergines aside to cool. Pour the cooking liquid into the dashi. When the aubergines are cool, peel and slice into half inch julienne. Cover with water and set aside.

Finely chop half an onion. Put a small amount of oil into the bottom of a casserole and microwave on high for one minute. Add the onion and microwave on high for one minute. Sieve the onion and wash in cold water. Pat dry and cover with red wine vinegar. Leave for two hours.

Take a large potato and chop it into inch cubes. Place a little oil in the bottom of a casserole and microwave on high for one minute. Add the potato and microwave on high for three minutes. Stir and microwave for a further three minutes or until soft. Take half a cup of Short Grain rice and boil it. Cover with about twice the volume of boiling water in a casserole and microwave on high for seven minutes. Wash through the lid of a bamboo steamer and set aside in a bowl. When the rice is cool, make cakes of the rice using a small pastry cutter. Set aside in the serving bowls.

Return the marbled eggs to the iced water, when cool, shell and set aside. Put the potato into the blender with the cutting blade. Add a cup of milk and mash the potato into the milk. Bring a cup of water to the boil and stir in two tablespoonsful of red miso. Ad to the mixture in the blender, then set aside to cool. Slice the beans diagonally, discarding the ends. Blanche for three minutes in boiling water. Set aside the vegetables in cold water.

Use a cup of dashi for the sauce for the aubergine and beans. Add coarsely chopped ginger and a chopped clove of garlic, together with a tablespoonful of soy sauce.

Quarter the mushrooms leaving the stems on. Heat the wok and sprinkle salt onto the surface. Put the mushrooms in the wok and stir round, adding a little more salt, until the mushrooms are about half their original size. Take out the mushrooms and place in a cup. Cover with white wine vinegar. Do not wash the wok.

Take from the dashi a cup of the clear dashi to use in the hashiarai.

Re-heat the wok which has been used for the mushrooms, and when it is hot, pour in a cup of the dashi, to take the mushroom flavour from the wok. Mix a teaspoonful of cornflour and dissolve it in cold water. Leave the Dashi simmering. Stir in the cornflour and simmer until thickened. Set aside for the sauce for the rice. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the noodles, return to the boil and simmer for one minute. Remove from the boil, stir, cover and set aside for five minutes. Pour through the bamboo lid. Rinse in very cold water. Set aside covered with cold water and chill.

Cut and press the tofu slices.

Stir the shredded onion and add sugar to taste.

Cut two tomatoes into water-lillies and place in the serving bowls for the miso soup. Set aside and chill.

Wash the courgette wedges, pat dry and cover with white wine vinegar.

Prepare the green tea and chill it.

To serve the dishes

  1. Sticky Rice Balls in Thickened Dashi
    Pour the thickened dashi over the rice cakes and serve.
  2. Cold Red Miso and Potato Cream Soup
    Stir the soup vigorously before pouring over the tomatoes to serve.
  3. Eggplant and Green Beans in Ginger Soya Stock.
    Place the vegetables in the serving bowls. Bring the sauce back to the boil and pour over the vegetables. Microwave the dishes on high for one minute.
  4. Marbled Eggs in Vintner's Butter with Vinegar.
    Just before serving, quarter the eggs and make the vintner's butter. Put about an ounce of butter into a pan and clarify it. stir in one egg-yolk, then add a little wine and the vinegar from the mushrooms. Stir until thick and pour over the eggs.
  5. Braised Tofu in Sesame and White Wine Sauce
    Heat the flat-bottomed frying-pan. season with a very little sesame oil. Sprinkle salt on both flat sides of the tofu and place in the pan. Move the slices around with a wooden spatula so that they do not stick, and sear until just slightly brown. Turn over. Pour in the sesame seeds and continue to stir the tofu slices until just starting to crisp on the other side. Add a cup of white wine.
    Serve immediately the wine has heated through.
  6. Dashi Soup with Vodka and chopped spring onions.
    Stir the hashiarai before serving.
  7. Pickled Dry-Braised Mushrooms and Cold Rice Noodles
    Before serving, pour off the vinegar from the mushrooms, to use in the vintner's butter for the marbled eggs. Serve the noodles and mushrooms on the same dish.
  8. Pickled Courgettes and Sweet and Sour Onions
    Before serving, pour off the vinegar from the courgette slices.
  9. Apricots in Green Tea
    Stone and quarter the apricots. Pour the chilled tea over the fruit and serve.