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Showing posts from October, 2019

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

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 proce…

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

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 …

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

Urashima Taro and the Turtles.

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 a…

Crown Tourney 10/19/2019 - Honzen Ryori Style

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 d…

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

Inspiration