in march 2010 i was kindly invited to visit seiwasou ryoukan south of kyoto. the owner, mr. takenaka, kindly showed me around and explained me everything i was eager to know about the banket rooms and kitchen.
unfortunately due to my son having a fever i could not take part in the work and the scheduled visit to the local food market. but a child futon was put up in one of the beautiful garden view banket rooms for my son andhe wareceived a playground in the office with funny toys and the nice staff acting as nannies, so that i could spend some time undistracted …
interestingly the japanese professional kitchen is divided in similar posts as compared to europe, whereas for instance in china the order is completely different. traditions are thorougly kept but there is also also there is influence of new developments of cooking techniques like sous vide and low temperature cooking etc. whenever it is an option to enhance taste. mr. takenaka and his wife are travelling a lot in order to meet new trends and explore diverse cuisines.
i was happy to arrive at a very busy period, the cherry blossom season. in japan this is a time, where many people gather for dinner parties and events.
also the time was the beginning of spring and many seasonal delicacies were readily available.
among them, takenoko, freshly picked bamboo shoots. they are very popular in japanese springtime cuisine, comparable maybe to the asparagus season here in austria. they have to be harvested and used on the same day to avoid bitterness and local farmers deliver them directly to the kitchen.
kinome, the young sprouts of sansho, a spicy peppery herb are also very popular and make up for a typical japanese taste of spring with miso paste.
another lovely spring thing is warabi – the young shoots of a special fern, which is typically blanched and marinated.
i dako – squid with roe inside is also a typical seasonal product at this time of the year. the roe has the shape of rice and even develops a reminding taste.
i watched small sweet water fish from biwako lake being grilled and then marinated with soy sauce, mirin and sansho (sichuan pepper) and loaded with bamboo sticks to get a nice taste.
the only fish also readily available in austria was salmon trout – masu, baked with sweet soy sauce and kinome.
many delicious and aesthetic bento lunches were prepared with beautiful components.
among others … shaped yama imo, a type of potato like root and pumpkin, prepared takenoko, kamaboko fishcake in cherry flower shape, marinated octopus, sous vide prepared duck breast, tamago egg omelette …
the deep red squares are red coloured konnyaku. konnyaku is a product made from a plant corm. the flour is converted into a highly viscous jelly, which is high in fibers and has almost no calories. usually the colour is rather whitish or brown. the red one is made with oxidised iron colour and is rarely available, usually made for a ceremonial peace celebration in the shiga prefecture.
the lamp reflected in my miso soup … what a delicacy.
thank you mr. takenaka and seiwasou team!