Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Crown Tournament 10/19/2019 - Fukujinzuke (red pickles for curry) 福神漬け

Fukujinzuke (red pickles for curry) 福神漬け
Picture Courtesy of Avelyn Grene (Kristen Lynn)
Japanese cuisine is composed of rice (or another starch), soup and at least two side dishes.  Rice, which is a staple commodity, is the central component.  The accompanying dishes are called Okazu, and are designed to supplement the rice. The main okazu is almost always protein based--grilled fish, meat, or eggs. The secondary okazu can be either a vegetable dish or another protein dish. Additionally, there are accompaniments called "hashi yasume".  A special kind of okazu that contrasts flavor, temperature and texture of the main dish and most often includes small salads or pickles.

Pickles are a very important part of Japanese cuisine.  Just as rice is considered a "core" part of a meal, so too are pickles.  They are used as palate cleansers, condiments, garnishes or relishes. They emerged as a way of preserving food before refrigeration. The methods of pickling range from simply salt and vinegar, to fermentation and culturing molds. 

The simplest pickling process is salt pickling, and it is known as Shiozuke.  Thinly sliced vegetables are layered with salt and then weighed down, resulting in vegetables that are sweet, crisp and light in texture.  Simply rinse your vegetables before using.   Diners of the feast enjoyed this kind of pickle in the form of umeboshi. 

Suzuke pickles have been brined in rice vinegar, which gives them a tangy and sweet flavor with a crunchy texture.  The gari (pickled ginger) and namasu (pickled daikon and carrots) served at feast are examples of this kind of pickle. 

Shoyuzuke is soy-based pickling. Soy sauce is combined with vinegar and sugar resulting in pickles that are both sweet and salty.  The fukujinzuke served at feast is an example of this kind of pickling method. Fukujinzuke is made with seven different items and is associated with the seven gods of fortune (Shichi Fukujin), also known as the seven lucky gods, or the seven gods of happiness. They are most often served with curryies and chopped like a chutney. I left the pieces larger because I wanted individuals to know what they were eating. 

Miso-based pickling is called Misozuke. Miso paste is flavored with seasonings such as mirin, garlic or ginger and then the vegetables, meat, tofu or eggs are buried within it.  They can cure from a few hours to several weeks.The Mikawa Ae (miso cured cucumbers) that was served at feast is an example of this kind of pickling. 

Nukazuke is an advanced pickle. It begins with a mixture of rice bran which has been roasted. The rice bran is then mixed with salt, kombu seaweed and water into a mash. It relies on lactobacillus bacteria to cure the pickles.  The mash must be stirred  daily in order to be properly maintained.  A properly maintained mash can be kept indefinately. This is the method that is used to create Takuan, yellow pickled daikon radish. 

The last method of Japanese pickling is Kasuzuke which uses sake lees (the mash left over from filtering sake) mixed with salt, sugar and mirin.  The resulting pickles are slightly alcoholic. 

For more information on Iemetsu's banquet see the following post: Resources and Inspiration for Crown Tourney Feast

For more information on the seven lucky gods see here: Seven Lucky Gods 

Fukujinzuke (福神漬)

5 c. chopped turnip
4 c. chopped cucumbers
1 c. chopped carrots
1/2 Asian pear, julienned
Lotus root (10-cm piece), peeled
1 tbsp finely chopped candied ginger
1/2 cup salt
1-1/2 c. soy sauce
2 c. sugar
3 tbsp white vinegar

Note: Other vegetables you can use include: eggplant, mushrooms, daikon, radish and purple shiso

Peel, core and slice vegetables into like-sized pieces.  Alternatively, if you want to make it more of a chutney, chop vegetables finely.  Sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for a minimum of ten minutes before rinsing and then drying off vegetables. 

Mix soy, sugar and vinegar together in a pot to create to the brine. Bring the brine to a boil and boil for 1-2 minutes.  Place vegetables into a container (I used a mason jar) and pour the brine over  them.

Here is where I deviated from the classical Japanese technique.  If you are following the classical technique you would leave the vegetables overnight in the brine, then drain the brine into a saucepan, boil it for 1-2 minutes and then pour the hot brine back over the drained vegetables over the next two days.

I did not do this. Instead, I refrigerated the vegetables and brine and flipped the jars over once a day for the next two days.


Japanese Pickles (Tsukemono) (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2349.html.

Tsukemono: The Complete Guide to Japanese Pickles. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://gurunavi.com/en/japanfoodie/2015/08/tsukemono.html?__ngt__=TT0ffbd9f51007ac1e4ae773O8fwwraqAODbBY9kNz-A9S.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Crown Tournament 10/19/2019 - Vegetarian Gyoza 餃子 & Sarada yō kyabetsu (Japanese Slaw) 福神漬

Vegetarian Gyoza 餃子 & Sarada yō kyabetsu (Japanese Slaw) 福神漬
Picture Courtesy of Avelyn Grene (Kristen Lynn)
I have a confession to make--Japanese dumplings are not period.  While it is true that Japan and China had many years of conflict and that Jiaozi (the Chinese dumplings) were a commonly eaten food for almost two thousand years in China, it wasn't until Japan invaded China in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War that Japanese soldiers were exposed to Chinese Jiaozi,  the parent of Japanese Gyoza and took them home to their families.  

I could not in good conscience allow people to sit at an empty table.  So, I used cook's prerogative to put a small bite of an acidic food (Sarada yō kyabetsu "Japanese Slaw" 福神漬) with a small bite of something savory and spicy to increase the appetite. Additionally, keeping with the theme of symbolism in the feast, the dumpling represents wealth, happiness and celebration. Both the cabbage and mushrooms used in the filling are equally symbolic: cabbage to bring luck and wealth for the next hundred years and mushrooms to bring good fortune to those who ate the dumplings.

Napa cabbage has an interesting history that is interwoven between China and Japan as well. The word napa (菜っ葉) is a reference to the leaves of any vegetable that can be eaten as food.  In China, where the cabbage was first cultivated in the 15th century, it is referred to as "White Vegetable" (白菜). From China it spread through Korea and into Japan.  The cabbage slaw that was served at feast would theoretically fall into the category of Namasu no Bu (鱠之部), fresh food with vinegar.  Originally Namasu referred to any food that was sliced thin, dressed with vinegar and served raw, and may be the precursor to sashimi or sunomono.

Namasu also travelled to Japan from China during the Nara period (710-794).  The Japanese word for vinegar is "su", and the word for thinly sliced or uncooked is "nama".  While I was unable to locate references to these two specific dishes in period, I felt there was enough evidence for their probability in period that it would not be a red flag to present them.

Sarada yō kyabetsu (Japanese Slaw) 福神漬

1/2 head of napa cabbage shredded
1 bag shredded coleslaw mix


 2 tsp. sugar
4 tsp. light soy sauce
2 tsp. vegetable or canola oil
5 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 green onions finely sliced

Mix together ingredients for dressing, and then pour over the cabbage.  This slaw can be refrigerated up to 2 days before serving.

Vegetarian Gyoza 餃子

1 pound finely minced napa cabbage
1 carrot finely grated
7 ounces finely minced mushrooms
1 pound of vegetarian crumbles
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. garlic
1 tsp. fresh ginger
2 green onions or 1/2 leek finely chopped
2 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 package of dumpling wrappers
Vegetable oil for cooking

Sprinkle salt over cabbage and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it wilts and releases water.  Squeeze the cabbage to drain the liquid.  In a medium skillet, heat oil and sesame oil. Add mushrooms, carrots, leeks (or onions), garlic and ginger, and cook stirring occasionally until mushrooms are slightly browned. Add cabbage, sesame oil and vegetarian crumbles, and cook another four to five minutes. Set aside to cool.

To make dumplings you will need to assemble the cooled dumpling filling, a bowl of water, and your wrappers.  Add up to 2 tsp. filling to a wrapper that has been wet with water on half of it.  Fold into a half moon shape and pleat shut.  Dumplings can be frozen, then fried or steamed depending upon your preference.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Crown Tourney 10/19/2019 - Symbolism in the Feast - Turtle

Turtle (kame): In Japan, the turtle is the symbol of wisdom, luck, protection and longevity. It is believed that the turtle will bring 10,000 years of happiness.

Urashima Taro

Long, long ago, in a small village near the sea in the south of Japan, lived a young fisher named Urashima Taro. Although he was a fine fisherman, he was most known for his kind heart. One day, as he returned home from his work, he noticed a group of boistrous children. As he drew near, he saw that they were tormenting a small turtle. Urashima Taro’s heart went out to the turtle.

“Children, that is such a fine turtle. Why not help it back into the sea?”

The children only laughed and continued to poke at the poor turtle.

“If you will give me the turtle, I will give you the money from my catch today,” said Urashima Taro.

The children looked at the large catch of fish and decided to sell the turtle.

The kindhearted fisher spoke softly to the turtle. “You, my friend, will live a long and full life in the beautiful sea.” And he set the turtle into the waves.

Some days later, Urashima Taro went as usual to the sea to fish. His line hung still in the water and his mind followed the turtle deep into the sea.

“Urashima Taro-San, Urashima Taro-San.” The strange voice drifted up through the water and disturbed his thoughts.

When he turned his attention to the world around him, he saw a large and ancient turtle at his side.

"Urashimna Taro-San, I am the one you saved from the children," said the turtle. "As repayment for your kindness, I am here to take you into the presence of the king who lives beneath the sea. I will carry you on my back, and although we must travel far, we will soon complete our journey."

Urashima Taro left his fishing line behind to slide into the green sea. He straddled the turtle's shell and grasped the front of the strong front flippers. No sooner was he settled than he found himself gliding down, down, endlessly down.

The sea turtle carriedUrashima Taro to the palace beneath the seaAs the light from the sky dimmed and disappeared, a new light glimmered ahead. The turtle swam directly to the light.

At last they came to an opening in a wall of coral guarded by swordfish who stood aside for the turtle.

Once on the other side, the turtle said, "You can walk safely here."

The fisher dismounted, and to his amazement, he found that he could walk freely in this magical underwater world.

The turtle guided him down glittering avenues lined with waving sea grasses. Behind the grasses, curious buildings of pale yellow, pink, blue, green, and violet turned their faces to the passersby. Sea horses, dolphins, jellyfish, and crabs mingled in peace and harmony. All gave obeisance to Urashima Taro.

A vast square, wider than the whole of the fisher's village, led to a sweeping stairway that took the travelers to the door of a majestic palace. Servants stood aside and bowed low as the turtle led his guest into the throne-room.

The turtle and the fisher knelt and bowed before the richly-robed king.

"Is this the fisher who saved you?" asked the king.

The turtle raised his head and replied, "Yes, Majesty."

"Come, fisher," said the king. "We have prepared a great entertainment for you."

Urashima Taro raised his eyes.

The king turned to his right and said, "My daughter."

A beautiful young princess rose from the throne below and to the right of the king. Her many kimonos blended the colors of all the fish of the coral reefs. Her sleeves reached the tatami. Her long hair like black silk was crowned by a royal headdress. She bowed as she turned to Urashima Taro. He, in turn, fell to his knees and pressed his forehead to the tatami.

"My daughter will be your guide," continued the king.

The princess said, "Fisher, helper of the wise turtle, follow me."

the princess and the fisher ate delicacies from the best chefs Urashima Taro rose and followed the princess. Together they visited the sea creatures, both those the fisher knew from home and others more wonderful than he had ever imagined.

Together the princess and the fisher banqueted on delicacies brought from the seven seas and prepared by the best chefs. Together they read from the old scrolls.

Every day lobsters and crabs played the biwa and the koto. An octopus played the taiko drums. Dolphins, whales, and squid danced while tuna fanned the princess and her guest. The sights, sounds, and tastes were beyond any the fisher had ever experienced in his life above the waves.

He lost track of time as he listened to strange music, ate royal delicacies, and read the tales of the old ones from the sea.

One day he began to miss his home. Although he tried to keep his spirits happy, the princess guessed his thoughts.

The next day, when Urashima Taro answered her summons, he saw his old friend the turtle with the princess. "It has been our pleasure to share our life with you here beneath the sea to show our appreciation for your kindness to the turtle," she said. "Now, we understand that you wish to return to your own home."

"Your Highness, you have been so kind to me. I do not want to appear ungrateful, but in your wisdom, you have guessed correctly."

"We know your kind heart. We understand your gratitude. Now we have summoned the turtle to take you back to your home above the waves. We have a gift for you. It will bring you happiness."

The princess beneath the sea gave Urashima Taro a black laquered box tied with a red ribbonThe princess held out a black lacquered box, beautifully made and decorated with the most precious art of the sea. It was tied with an elegant red ribbon. "As long as you own this chest and leave it closed, happiness will be yours."

Urashima Taro received the chest in both hands and bowed low. "I shall guard it always as a remembrance of your kindness," he said.

With that, he mounted the back of the turtle and began the return journey to his home above the waves. In what seemed like no time at all, the fisher found himself standing on the same beach where he had rescued the turtle. The turtle bowed his head and slipped once again into the sea.

Urashima Taro hurried to the village, anxious to share his adventures with his family. But to his amazement, all was changed. Search as he might, he could not find his home. When he asked after his family, only the oldest men of the village knew of them, and they knew only old stories of the fisher and his parents.

Urashima Taro thought to build himself a small hut just outside the village and begin again to fish. He had no one to share his plans, and sadness filled his heart.

A puff of smoke escaped from the box and curled about Urashima TaroEarly one morning he took the chest to the edge of the sea and thought again of the beautiful princess and her enchanting world. Perhaps, he thought, she has left me some happiness inside the box. Ignoring her warning, he opened the lid. A tendril of smoke escaped from the box, swirled around Urashima Taro, and floated away on the gentle wind.

The fisher looked down at his hands. They were gnarled and deeply veined. As he turned in sorrow to walk back to the village, his steps were slow and halting.

A young boy passing by noticed an old man with long white hair and beard making his unsteady way along the shore. It was Urashima Taro who had pursued happiness over obedience so he had lost the protection against the effects of Time.

Crown Tourney 10/19/2019 - Honzen Ryori Style

The Tokugawa Shoguns

Through my research I discovered that there are three different styles of traditional Japanese cooking; Yusoku Ryori (court cuisine), honzen ryori (dishes for feudal lords) and kaseiki ryori (formal dinners).  The style that was chosen for this banquet was Honzen Ryori, whose roots are in the gishiki ryori (ceremonial cooking) exclusive to nobility in the Heian period (794-1185) (Kodansha).

The basic menu is one soup and three sides (considered minimum fare), which is referred to as ichijū-sansai (一汁三菜) . The number of soups and side dishes could vary from two to three soups, with three, five, seven or eleven accompanying side dishes.  Rice which is a basic staple food and pickles are not counted as side dishes. Although, the menu for Crown Tourney feast contained a staggering number of dishes (33 over three courses and a sweets tray), the soups, rice and pickles should not be considered in the final count of dishes that were served per course. In the first course, there were seven dishes, five in the second course and three in the third course.

A Honzen Ryori style meal would begin in a separate room with a formal ceremony called shiki-sankon. This ceremony is the precursor to the three times three exchange of cups at traditional Shinto weddings.  During the ceremony (shiki), a cup of sake would be paired with a side dish and drunk in three gulps.  This would occur three times (sankon) in total. Typical side dishes that were served to Iemitsu included dried sea cucumber intestines, abalone, wheat gluten soybeans and sweet seaweed

The diners would then go into a seperate room where the meal was served.  The food would be served on trays called suzuri-buta.   Food would be served in three courses; ichi-no-zen (first), ni-no zen (second), and san-no zen (third).  The Honzen Ryori style of service is believed to have originated in the 14th century. Three trays was typical for shoguns, while most samurai were limited to two trays of food. Larger banquets during the Muromachi period could have up to thirty-two dishes, including dishes that were meant to be decorative and not eaten.  Iemitsu's banquet in 1630 followed a seven, five, three format, which was the inspiration for the menu that was created and served at Crown Tourney feast. This is a typical style of service for Shogun in the Edo period (Rath).

When serving the food it is typical to place a bowl of rice to the left and soup to the right.  Behind the rice and the soup would sit three flat plates, one to the far left behind the rice, one to the far right behind the soup, and one in the middle. Pickled vegetables would be served on the side.  Chopsticks would then be placed in the very front of the tray supported by a hashioki (chopstick rest). Rice would be served in its own bowl, and the remaining items would be served either on small plates (sara) or small bowls (hachi) in individual portions. The number of dishes served on each tray varied depended upon the diners rank. For example, high ranking retainers would only receive five dishes on the main tray, while a shogun would receive seven, not counting salt, pickles or rice.

Stacked Red Lacquered Sake Cups


     Eric C Rath. (2013, June 9). Retrieved from https://thehomelesschefs.wordpress.com/tag/eric-c-rath/

     Highlighting JAPAN. (n.d.). Retrieved from  https://www.govonline.go.jp/eng/publicity/book/hlj/html/201611/201611_03_en.html.

     Kodansha. (1993). Japan: an illustrated encyclopedia. Tokyo.

     Stacked Red Lacquered Sake Cups for Elegant Ceremonies on Formal Occasions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gekkeikan.co.jp/english/history/culture/sakecups.html.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Crown Tourney 10/19/2019 - Research Sources & Inspiration

Learning a new culture requires a ton of reading and research in order to try to "get it right".  Following is a list of some of the resources that I used to research and put together the banquet and a brief essay on the inspiration for the meal that will be served and some take-aways from the copious amount of research that went into the creation of this meal.

Research Sources

Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan By Eric Rath

The Tastiest Dish in Edo: Print, Performance and Culinary Entertainment in Early-Modern Japan By Eric Rath

Japanese Foodways Past and Present Edited by Eric Rath and Stephanie Asmann

Early Modern Japan- Banquets Against Boredom: Towards Understanding (Samurai) Cuisine in Early Modern Japan by Eric Rath

A Peek at the Meals of the People of the Edo; Tracing the Diet of Edo--the Establishment of Japan's Culinary Culture Part One by Nobuo Harada

Ryōri Monogatari - A partial translation of one of Japan's earliest cookbooks. Joshua L. Badgley


The meal that will be served at feast is a creative interpretation of a menu that was served to Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu when he visited the Shimazu daimyo house in Edo. Preceding the meal was the shikisankon, or, “three formal rounds of drinks, a formal ceremony that usually took place in a private room between the host and a guest drinking sake from the same shallow bowl. According to Eric Rath, "This formal exchange of drinks between lord and vassal signified their personal bond, and the same ceremony was used for weddings (Banquets against Boredom)." A total of nine cups of sake (or more) would have been drunk prior to the meal!

After the shikisankon, a banquet followed in a style that originated in the 14th century.  Service consisted of three trays with a proscribed number of dishes, 7, 5, 3, soup, pickles and on the first tray chopsticks. This style of dining is referred to as honzen ryōri or "main tray cuisine". Each tray contained at least one soup (shiru) and the side dishes (sai), pickles and rice were normally only found on the first tray, but will be interspersed through out the feast that will be served for the event in order to showcase the variety of foods that would have been found in this period.

Iemetsu's Banquet that he enjoyed in 1630 contained the following items:

Main Tray 

Grilled salt-cured fish (shiobiki)
Fish-paste cake (kamaboko)
Fish salad (aemaze)
Hot water over rice (yuzuke)
Fish flavored in sake (sakabite)
Fermented intestines of sea cucumber (konowata)
Salt for flavoring (teshio)

The yuzuke which was served is believed to have originated when Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358–1408) became drunk at a party and poured hot water over his rice in the Muromachi period.  This dish will be featured in the second course of my banquet.

Another Muromachi period dish that will be served is the aemaze, a raw fish salad, which consisted of raw fish or other seafood marinated in a sake based dressing with vegetables. Aemaze is the predecessor of namasu, or dishes of raw sliced fish and vegetables that preceded what is commonly referred to as sashimi today.

O-zoni, which was not mentioned specifically in the menu for Iemetsu, is another dish commonly found during this period and was served in the main (or first) course to welcome guests. It consisted mainly of fish paste cakes (kamaboko), and rice cakes, vegetables and dried foods.  The origin of this dish is believed to have been in field battles. It was a dish for Samurai that eventually became a dish for everyone.

The most symbolic dish that will be served in the first course is an interpretation of "Crane Soup". It was a dish served only to the elite among Samurai.  Cranes in legend were believed to live for thousands of year, except when they were killed.  It was served to Ieyasu in 1582 by warlord Oda Nobunaga.

Second Tray

Dried salted mullet roe (karasumi)
“Gathered soup” (oshiru atsume)
Servings of mollusks (kaimori)
Rolled squid
Dried codfish
Swan soup

The second tray consisted of two soups, a gathered soup and swan soup.  According to Eric Rath, the "servings of mollusks" most likely served as a decorative element. In lieu of dried salted mullet, jelly fish, rolled squid and dried cod, the diners of the feast that I will be serving will be eating a selection of shimofuri (lightly steamed fish) served with irizake and a dish of shrimps.  Clam soup takes the place of the swan soup. Here you will find yuzuke, a dish of rice, hot water and toppings consisting of umeboshi, black and white sesame seeds, bonito flakes and nori as the'gathered items'.

Oshiru atsume contained many exotic ingredients, for example  dried sea cucumber intestines (iriko), skewered abalone or wheat gluten. The instructions for this soup are found in the Ryōri Monogatari:

Atsume jiru あつめ汁 (Gathered Broth) - It is good to add  dashi to nakamiso.  Alternatively use a suimono. It is good to put in such things as daikon, gobo, tofu, bamboo shoots, skewered abalone, dried fugu, iriko, and tsumi'ire. There are various others.
Third Tray 

Fowl served with its wings (hamori)
Carp soup
Turbo (sazae)
[Spiny lobster] served in a boat shape (funamori)
“Cloud hermit”  (unzen) soup

The third tray contains two presentation or spectacle dishes--they were to be looked at and not eaten, and were designed so that the chef's skills could be admired; hamori and funamori. These dishes would have been decorated with paper when they were served.  Here I diverged significantly from the meal Iemetsu enjoyed.  Ginger pork and braised pork belly served with mushroom soup, simmered pumpkin and grilled eggplant as an homage to autumn.

Although the eating of pork was shunned during the Kamakura period, it saw a resurgence during the Sengoku period (15th-16th centuries). Pigs were considered a valuable food source, and often, herds of pigs would accompany troops in the field.  Satsuma warriors reputations were directly linked to their consumption of pork. Pork could be consumed in the Edo period "for health reasons", as it was believed to make you strong and give you stamina.

The banquet that was served to Iemetsu ended with a tray of sweets, special cakes made from mochi which had been pounded into a paste and then frozen called Ice rice-cakes (kōri mochi), tangerines, and persimmons on a branch. To emulate the the dish that he was served, I will be serving anmitsu, translucent agar-agar jelly, topped with green tea and jasmine ice cream (18th century invention), mochi, red bean paste with sugar syrup and slices of fresh fruit, tangerines and persimmons if available, strawberries and peaches if not.