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Cooking Shojin Ryori at Atsuko's Kitchen

The second cooking class of last week was another repeat visit to Atsuko's Kitchen.

Having been there for a number of classes - beginners and advanced Japanese cookery, bento making and Japanese teatime recipes - when I got the email that there was a Shojin Ryori class in the offing, I felt duty bound to sign up.

The Grocery Cafe, home to Atsuko's Kitchen
Shojin Ryori is the vegan temple food of Buddhist monks in Japan, and Mari Fuji, an authority on the subject and the author of The Enlighted Kitchen was in town to show us how to do it.

Having taken another of Mari Fuji's Shojin Ryori courses at Atsuko's Kitchen last year, and found the food interesting rather than lip-smacking, I was hoping for something more a mix of the two this time around.

Happily, that's what I got. Like the cooking course at Bath's Vegetarian Cookery School that I took earlier this week, I went away with far more recipes than I'd expected to and itching to cook everything I'd learned as soon as I could.

The Shojin Ryori meal was one made of many tiny dishes - my little contribution was brussel sprouts in a peanut sauce. Made with just three ingredients, the sauce was punching well above its weight.

Also on the menu was taro root with dengaku sauce. Having cooked with taro to disastrous affect before, I approached it with all the trepidation of James Murdoch  at a select committee. I was pleasantly surprised - not the slimy travesty I was expecting, taro had become a gently creamy wonder root.

Radishes pickled in ume-vinegar became delightfully tart chrysanthemums, while daikon steaks - a salad veg to me - got brought to life under the tender ministrations of traditional Japanese seasonings, kombu, shoyu, mirin and sake.

Unsurprisingly, tofu figured on the menu - this time, mixed with shiitake, seaweed, carrot and a ginko nut, tucked away like a coin in a Christmas pudding.

gammogoki before deep frying

And, for good measure, there's a was sesame and turnip miso soup and rice with Japanese mushrooms to go with it.

Here's the meal plated up:

And gorgeous it was too. Only, gorgeous as it was, it wasn't the most gorgeous thing I had that evening. Oh no. It was this - matcha tiramisu.

What I found fascinating about this was the simplicity - even austerity - of the ingredients. Tiramisu is meant to be rich and heavy and sugary and creamy. That's what defines it. This tiramisu was none of those things, based as it was on walnut bread and green tea. It was light and interesting and still every bit as delicious, only without the perilous blood sugar afterwards. 

And what made this evening even more fun? I got a chance to hang out with some other vegans, including the lovely The Vegan Ronin and Alessio is on Fire. What more could a vegan ask for?

Atusko's Kitchen
The Grocery
54-56 Kingsland Road
City of London E2 8DP, United Kingdom
020 7729 0713

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  1. Wow, that is an impressive plate of food and the tiramisu looks perfect too!


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