In the summer of 2019, me and my friends visited Japan. During the trip we stayed at an Ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) in Hirayu Onsen for two nights. The Ryokan offered everything from a relaxing onsen (hot spring bathing area) and traditional tatami-matted rooms to amazing food. The food that was served was traditional Japanese cusine, Kaiseki, which featured seasonal and regional specialities. This consisted of two dinners and two breakfasts. With the food we were served
Kaiseki could be described as a banquet meal where the main beverage is sake. It could also be described as an art where taste, texture, apparance and colors are all balanced. Only fresh seasonal ingredients are used and there are often local ingredients included. The dishes are arranged and garnished beautifully, often with real leaves and flowers.
I knew from the start that recreating a kaiseki experience would be near impossible for me. Usually a kaiseki includes an appetizer, a simmered dish, a steamed course and other dishes at the discretion of the chef. My goal here was to create a traditional Japanese dinner experience but my time and resources were very limited. Therefore I settled to recreate only a few dishes and not a whole banquet dinner.
Before I could start my cooking I needed to get some Japanese ingredients. Since I had the day off I decided to take a long walk to JFK Japan Foods & Kitchen AB in Södermalm. At the store I got some ingredients and had some interesting conversations with the friendly staff.
After getting the ingredients I visited the Systembolaget to get some Sake (Japanese rice wine) and Umeshu (Japanese plum wine) for the dinner. After a lot of walking I finally got back home and could begin preparing the dinner and rearranging the living room to make it feel like a restaurant.
A bite-sized appetizer similar to an amuse-bouche. I decided to make some edamame tofu and kamaboko (processed white fish) with ikura (salmon roe). These two dishes were paired with Umeshu (梅酒; plum wine).
I could only find narutomaki so I decided to go with that. I also wanted to find shiso leaves (Japanese perilla) but had to settle with ordinary perilla. I pickled the salmon roe for around 3 hours in the refrigerator using 50ml soy sauce, 20 ml sake, 10 ml mirin and 20 ml water. Then I cut the narutomaki in half and made a cut where I could put in the ikura inside a perilla leave.
For the edamame tofu the most time consuming step was to peel the individual edamame beans. To make it faster you can just squeeze the beans and the peel will come off. Another tip is to use a colander to remove the foam before putting the liquid in the refrigerator. For the wasabi I decided to go with S&B wasabi powder which you just mix with some water. The edamame tofu was paired with a dashi based sauce and a drop of wasabi on top.
Lightly seasoned soup for cleaning your palate. I decide to go with a potato and ground meat bowl.
Hachizakana (鉢肴) or Yakimono (焼き物):
Features regional and seasonal fish, seafood or meat. After going to the supermarket I found some tuna and I decided to go with that. It was then simmered in daikon and rice and served in a dashi based stock. I loosely followed this recipe:
A steamed dish. I decided to do Chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し; steamed egg custard). The main problem was that I didn’t have any good bowls that would fit inside the bamboo steamer. In the end I decided to go with some tea cups and cover them with foil.
The last course before dessert. Usually this would include rice, miso soup and tsukemono (漬物; Japanese vegetable pickles). However, I didn’t manage to prepare any pickled vegetables in time so I only served rice and sesame miso soup.
A light fruit-based dessert. I went with a fruit-based jelly and served it with Hojicha (ほうじ茶 roasted green tea).
Thank you for reading!