Kitchen Culture Cooking Club

EXPLORE and PRACTICE Japanese cooking in your own kitchen

About Kitchen Culture Cooking Club

Welcome to the Kitchen Culture Cooking Club, a community space providing encouragement to those who want to EXPLORE and PRACTICE Japan’s washoku wisdom in their own kitchens.

To facilitate this, themed projects will be posted to this page periodically. Project Assignments and links to relevant reference material stored on this site will be posted to this page. Anyone, anywhere in the world, with a sincere interest in Japanese food culture is welcome to browse the contents of this page and then replicate the themed project in their own kitchen.

For those who wish to display-and-discuss their projects with like-minded people, I invite you to become a member of the KITCHEN CULTURE Cooking Club Facebook Group (formerly the TSUDOI Project), an interactive community space. If you are not already a member, please apply. Members are encouraged to post photos and a short description of what they make in their own kitchens in accordance with the chosen theme.

 

Project Chunky Chowder

BASIC RECIPE to assemble KENCHIN-JIRU

When autumn evenings turn chilly, its time for a warm bowl of nutritious chowder.

The origins of this one, kenchin-jiru, is thought to be resourceful monks at Kenchō-ji Temple (建長寺) in Kamakura. Utilizing vegetable scraps and bits of tōfu, temples throughout Japan have their own versions of kenchin chowder. Nearly every household and casual eatery, too, will serve a similar soup brimming with vegetables and tōfu. Some versions will have a clear broth, others will be thickened and seasoned with miso.

Similar frugal chowders can be found throughout Japan and Asia.

Here is a BASIC RECIPE for KENCHIN-JIRU to get you started in exploring the many possibilties.

Choice of vegetables... and types of tōfu

Get started assembling kenchin-jiru: Choose the vegetables… and types of tōfu you want to use…

Root vegetables are wonderful. Pictured here (upper left) are turnips with their edible greens… below them is kabocha (most varieties have a tough skin that needs to be partially peeled)… to the right shiméji mushrooms and abura agé (fried tōfu)… carrots (and their edible green tops… lotus root (scrub or peel skin before slicing)… firm momen tōfukonnyaku (a jelly-like loaf processed from a corm by the same name, konnyaku) “pinched” into bite-sized pieces with the edge of a spoon.

 

Choice of stocks

The classic version of kenchin-jiru typically uses a plant-based stock (a simple dashi made from kelp alone or Sankai Dashi (kelp and dried mushrooms). However, if you prefer a more complex, smoky flavor I suggest katsuo-infused stock instead.

 

Thicken and season your chowder with MISO

If you like, you can thicken and season your kenchin broth with miso. Most Japanese households will have several kinds of miso on hand… often to accommodate seasonal ingredients (and a tendancy to choose saltier miso mixtures in hot weather, sweeter in cold weather)  and regional preferences (those in the Nagoya area love Hatcho miso while most in Kyushu prefer mugi miso… folks in the Kansai area love Saikyo miso and many in the northern regions prefer Sendai miso). If you want to assemble a basic pantry so that you can mix-and-match to suit your preferences, I recommend these four:

Sweet and creamy SAIKYO SHIRO miso (upper left)

Robust and slightly textured SENDAI miso (upper right)

Smooth and slightly smoky, pure soy bean HATCHO miso (lower left)

Yeasty, barley-enriched MUGI miso (lower right).

 

Further informatiion and inspiration on KENCHIN-JIRU available at my Kitchen Culture blog

Can’t wait to see YOUR Kenchin-Jiru Project!

 

Show Us Your Kitchen Project

QUESTIONS? COMMENTS?
Ready to SHARE YOUR KITCHEN PROJECT with others?

KITCHEN CULTURE Cooking Club members, head over to our Facebook Group. Not yet a member? Please join – membership is opt-in and free of charge.

Looking forward to seeing what you’re making in your kitchen…

Recipes and Resources

Stock (Dashi)

Dashi stock is essential to making soups and simmered or stewed dishes. Dashi is also used when making many egg dishes and all sorts of sauces, dips and dressings. Using good dashi will make a noticeable difference in the outcome of so many dishes you prepare.

Click to download recipes for (vegan) Kelp Alone Stock or Standard Sea Stock + Smoky Sea Stock

How to Cook Rice

In Japanese, the word for cooked rice, ご飯 GOHAN, is the same as the word for a meal, ご飯 GOHAN. Indeed rice is central to the meal.  Download the Rice with Mixed Grains recipe.

How to Prepare Sushi Rice

Sushi dishes are made with rice that has been seasoned (with sweetened vinegar) AFTER being cooked. Download the Classic Sushi Rice recipe.

Quick Pickles

The Japanese enjoy a wide variety of tsukémono pickles, many can be assembled quickly and are ready to eat within a short time.

Download a recipe for Quick-Fix Hakusai Cabbage.

Project Chunky Chowder

Project Chunky Chowder

When autumn evenings turn chilly, its time for a warm bowl of nutritious chowder. The origins of this one, kenchin-jiru, is thought to be resourceful monks at Kenchō-ji Temple (建長寺) in Kamakura. Utilizing vegetable scraps and bits of tōfu, temples throughout Japan...

Sudachi & Kabosu

Sudachi & Kabosu

The Japanese have consumed a variety of citrus for millennia, enjoying both the juice and peels of the fruit. Many who reside outside Japan have become familiar with yuzu, a member of the Rutaceae (citrus) family primarily prized for its aromatic yellow peel but...

PROJECT Sudachi & Kabosu

PROJECT Sudachi & Kabosu

The Japanese have consumed a variety of citrus for millennia, enjoying both the juice and peels of the fruit. Many who reside outside Japan have become familiar with yuzu, a member of the Rutaceae (citrus) family primarily prized for its aromatic yellow peel but...

Watermelon

Watermelon

Making use of every edible part of a food -- here the rind as well as the juicy flesh of watermelon -- is part of the Japanese notion of kansha (appreciation). More than just a frugal approach to limiting food waste, kansha is a mindset that embodies respect for the...

Explore

Archives

Like us on Facebook for the freshest content or follow Taste of Culture on Twitter.