Tag Archives: carrot

Meditation: sesame carrot greens from a Japanese temple

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Shōjin ryōri:
Japanese Buddhist temple cuisine. Devotional cuisine.

 

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Sydney CBD and Inner West has a range of places for Japanese cuisine, ranging from high end restaurants, sushi trains (remember when they were all the rage?), izakaya-style bars, to food court vendors famous for their ramen. Yet, I had not encountered Japanese Buddhist cuisine.

When I made a carrot and beet slaw a couple of weeks ago, I ended up with what seemed like a mountain of beet greens and carrot tops. Looking at the carrot tops, I remembered a recipe from Melissa Clark’s website for carrot greens with sesame dressing. The recipe stuck in my mind because it came from a book written by an Abbess from a Zen (Buddhist) temple, featuring vegan recipes in the Zen tradition. 

Melissa described making this dish as an almost an act of devotion or meditation, because it took so long to prepare a small amount of vegetables. It was, indeed, an exercise in patience; along the way, it became also a revelation in finding the perfect balance of flavours in the simplest rituals.

The carrots were pulled from the ground that morning, so the carrot greens had hidden pockets of dirt – healthy, hearty dirt, that played hide-and-seek while I tried to wash them out of the carrot greens. After washing, came blanching. After blanching, a quick bath of iced water. After that, soaking in 2-3 changes of cold water overnight to rid the greens of some of their bitterness.

Finally, a simple dressing of white sesames, soy, sugar and mirin.

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Beetroot and carrot and a feast of colours

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The past two weeks have been mildly crazy. We went to the theatre, had lunches and dinners with friends, I dutifully attended ‘networking’ events (where older men in black suits huddle with other black suits…), got excited about Good Food Month in October, and felt a general festive restlessness as Sydney finally burst into spring madness.

In the midst of this, I got my cooking assignment for the Bitten Word Cover to Cover Challenge 2013. In this challenge, we are each assigned one recipe from the September issue of Bon Appétit magazine, so that as a group, we will have made all 47 recipes in the magazine.

I sign up for these things to widen my cooking & baking horizons. Cover to Cover was no exception. The recipe was one of the simplest I have attempted, and not the type of recipe I blog about. Yet, once I started, the minimalist recipe made me really pay attention to the colours, textures and flavours of the ingredients. Making a simple recipe became a feast for the senses.

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The recipe is carrot and beet slaw with pistachios and raisins. In the original recipe, carrots and beetroot are julienned, mixed in garlic-flavoured lemon juice, golden raisins, chilli, parsley, mint, and toasted pistachios.

Bon Appétit ‘s photo was a riot of colours. Red and golden beetroot, orange-red carrots, matchsticks of summer tumbling over one another to create a festive whole. It was a beautiful chaos; a styled, self consciously casual, beautiful chaos. Continue reading