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.



Try making OCHA-ZUKÉ in your kitchen

The two major components are: BROTH and TOPPINGS.

Start by picking a broth that will define the character, and general flavor profile, of your ocha-zuké. The recipe for making KELP-ENRICHED TEA BROTH offers several options for using different teas such as smoky hōji cha or toasty genmai cha in addition to delicate sencha. Or, you could choose Standard Sea Stock (that will add ocean aromas) or Kelp Alone Stock (provides a neutral backdrop for other flavors).

Next, choose your toppings.

Salmon Flakes are one popular choice. The salty-with-a-hint-of-sweetness fish pairs well with fresh herbs such as mitsuba or shiso. If you wanted to give your bowl a global twist try non-Japanese herbs such as fresh basil, dill, chives or cilantro.

Similarly, the sour punch of uméboshi plums goes well with herbs. The plums can also be nicely balanced with briny, shiny black Nori Tsukudani. or Second Chance Tea Topping (tsukudani made from spent tea leaves).

Other topping items that can be made ahead and store well for several weeks in the refrigerator are: Kelp and Mushroom Relish (pg 110 WASHOKU), Rice Friends (pg 152 KANSHA).

And you can always crumple toasted nori (or cut it into thin slivers with scissors).

Yet more topping items can be purchased at Asian groceries. Rice puffs called bubu araré can add crunch (like croutons). Calcium-rich chirimen-jako (dried miniscule sardines) add extra nutrition;  the same protein-packed, teeny dried sardines seasoned with tongue-tingling sanshō berries add spiciness. If you don’t see these fish items on the shelf, look in the refrigerated section. Naturally air-dried fish have a relatively short shelflife and most groceries will refrigerate or freeze them.



Clockwise from top left: salmon flakes, bubu araré (crunchy rice puffs), kelp (repurposed into tsukudani), jako (teeny dried sardines) seasoned with sanshō berries, plain chirimen-jako (dried miniscule sardines).


Clockwise from top left: domburi filled with rice and topped with Kelp and Mushroom Relish, cutting strips of toasted nori with scissors, full sheets of toasted nori, Kelp and Mushroom Relish (tsukudani) made with slender enoki mushrooms (LOTS of mushrooms, less kelp in final photo).

Show Us Your Kitchen Project

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.

Colorful CARROTS

Colorful CARROTS

Beautiful & Nutritious The pigments that make these carrots so beautiful are also the key to their nutritional power. Orange carrots are especially rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, both of which help to fight inflammation. Red carrots, like red tomatoes, are...



KOMATSUNA, a member of the brassica family of leafy greens, has been cultivated in Japan since the Edo period (1603-1868). The naming of the vegetable is attributed to the 8th shogun, Tokugawa Yoshimune. It seems that during a visiting to a shrine near the Komatsu...

EDIBLE SAKURA Blossoms & Leaves

EDIBLE SAKURA Blossoms & Leaves

Salt-Cured Cherry Blossoms & Leaves The blossoms and leaves of certain varieties of sakura are made edible by preserving them in salt, in a process known as shio-zuké. Deeply colored yaezakura blossoms are especially prized. When it comes to salt-curing leaves,...

Pom Pom Sushi

Pom Pom Sushi

Pom Pom Sushi Temari-Zushi 手まり寿司 Like many frugal Japanese women who managed households in the early and mid 20th century, my mother-in-law, Kiyoko Andoh, practiced thrift in and out of the kitchen. She saved bits and pieces of cloth, turning them into quilted...



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