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 Obon

OBON cookery: Cucumbers & Eggplant

Project OBON is about eggplant and cucumber cookery. Why eggplants and cucumbers? These vegetables reach their peak of flavor during the summer when Obon is celebrated. And, the vegetables are fashioned into transportation for departed spirits.

Eager to begin their annual visit, departed souls travel swiftly back to this world on cucumbers (galloping horses). But when it comes time to return to the spirit world, they are reluctant to go… favoring transport on slower oxen (eggplants).

Various eggplant and cucumber dishes appear on summer menus throughout Japan. Try your hand at making one (or better yet, all) of these eggplant and/or cucumber dishes. Then share your kitchen activity with us by posting to the KCCC Facebook group.

Smashed Cucumbers with Toasted Sesame

Most supermarkets in Japan set up a small table at the back of their produce section with slightly bruised or blemished (and therefore deeply-discounted) fruits and vegetables. Here, too, you can find day-old, but still fine-flavored and perfectly safe to consume, items. Whenever I see less-than-gorgeous-looking, odd-shaped cucumbers I grab them to make this salad. Find out more, and download a recipe for Smashed Cukes.

Roasted Eggplant

Late in summer eggplant skins begin to toughen a bit. That is when yaki nasu (roasted eggplant with the skin peeled away) is especially good. Served chilled and showered with smoky katsuo-bushi flakes and chives, it is a refreshing

Find out more, and download a recipe for Roasted Eggplant.

山形だし Yamagata Dashi

Somewhere between a salsa and chutney, Yamagata’s summertime signature dish Dashi is a refreshing mixture of chopped cucumber, eggplant and other summer vegetables. It is truly restorative on days when temperatures and humidity soar.

The Japanese generally embrace foods with viscosity (think positive cling, not negative slime) and in this dish, vegetables such as okra and a slippery yam called nagaimo encourage other minced morsels to bind with each other. The result is a mixture of crisp, succulent tidbits with a slightly slick mouth feel.

For more information and a recipe visit the Yamagata Dashi post.

Visit OBON SUMMER HOLIDAYS blog post for more information and inspiration.

Download a copy of my August 2023 newsletter themed on Obon.

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.

Tomatoes in Japan

Tomatoes in Japan

Originating in Mesoamerica about 7,000 years ago, tomatoes arrived in Japan early in the Edo period (1603-1868) having traveled the globe and being domesticated along the way.  The first tomato plants in Japan were considered an ornamental -- they were not cultivated...

Project Shaved Ice

Project Shaved Ice

PROJECT Shaved Ice is about making Japanese-style kaki-gōri confections.Many people top shaved ice with fresh fruit or commercially prepared syrups. But for those who would like to make their own, here is a simple-to-make STRAWBERRY sauce. Note the recipe includes a...

Shaved Ice

Shaved Ice

Long before refrigeration was invented, people around the world went to great lengths to keep food chilled. The world’s earliest written record of such efforts is an Iranian inscription dating back to 1700 BC that describes deep pits in which snow and ice was stored...



PROJECT New Tea is about brewing and enjoying NEW TEA (shin cha 新茶)... Please try YOUR hand at preparing new tea (available online and in specialty shops around the world). And when you do, share your kitchen activity with us: post to KCCC. Please include photos and a...

Recent Posts & Projects

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