Kansha: Vegetarian Cooking in Japan

Let me start by saying that I am not a vegetarian, but I am very interested in vegan and vegetarian cooking.  I actually eat a lot of meat and it’s probably why this book interested me so much in the first place.

Kansha was written by the Japanese food specialist Elizabeth Andoh  and it is my first vegetarian cookbook.   Washoku, her previous book, dealt with fish and meat.

Being a vegetarian in Japan is not easy.  Despite a tradition of vegetarian cooking dating back hundred of years, most Japanese are avid meat eater and they believe that a dashi made with katsuo bushi is good enough for a vegetarian.   If you are an hardcore vegan, you will find fish by-product almost everywhere, even in the delicious rolled omelettes .

This book is an amazing reminder that tasty food in Japan can be made without any meat and fish. Japanese traditional ingredients are perfect and if you happen to live in Japan, you can find all the stuff she writes about easily.  If you live abroad, she wrote the book with many substitution possibilities.

If you don’t know anything about Japanese cooking, both her book are precious tools.  Kansha is seperated in big sections: rice, noodles, soup, fresh stuff and what to do to it, miso, soy based products, pickles and desserts.

Kansha which means “appreciation” in Japanese and it is also a way of approaching food in a less wasteful way.  The idea is simple: use the whole vegetable when you cook and avoid waste.  Did you know that the leaves of the daikon are delicious when pickled or fried?

I’ve experienced kansha on a weekly basis by observing my mother-in-law in the kitchen. She uses every part of fishes and veggies she can lay her hand on. She also makes almost everything from scratch which is maybe the secret of the amazing food she prepares.

If you are a vegetarian look no further, you will find everything you need to make savoury food including a couple version of vegetarian dashi which is the base for most Japanese cooking.

If you can find the patience, cooking from Kansha is a very rewarding experience.

What is your favourite vegetarian recipe?




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