Kansha Kitchen Culture: KAZARI

Using Food Fully


kazari  (decorative carving)


Using them to their fullest...

I chose carrots for this edition of KAZARI because they are readily available worldwide, well-liked by most people, and lend themselves to a wide variety of preparations including decorative treatments such as the carved blossoms on this page. Carrots are usually inexpensive so practicing your knife skills should not be a costly proposition.

Japanese carrots tend toward plumpness; American carrots are usually slender. You will need carrots with a diameter of 1-inch or more to use standard Japanese vegetable cutters (available in some Asian grocery stores outside Japan, the best are made by Kyoto-based knife-maker ARITSUGU).

Japanese Carrots

In addition to ordinary orange-tinted carrots (above, right), some markets in Japan carry brightly colored (naturally pigmented) varietals.

Kintoki ninjin (also called Kyo ninjin; left, above), is a crimson variety popular in the Kansai region (Kyoto, Osaka, Nara). It is especially sweet when blanched or boiled.

Red and white, kohaku, is the color scheme of felicity. Red (carrots) and white (daikon) are often paired in celebratory dishes.

In Japan, during Oshogatsu (year-end/new year holiday), carrots are sometimes sculpted to resemble plum blossoms. This suggests New Year's time in much the same way that decorating an American table with black cats, witches and ghosts enhances a Halloween themed menu.

Plum is part of a threesome motif for winter:

sho (pine) chiku (bamboo) bai (plum) 


Carrot Flower

This KAZARI page of Kansha Kitchen Culture demonstrates that attractive food can be no-waste food. In this edition, I teach you to make a (fairly) simple, (very) impressive garnish. The trimmed away bits are put to good use.


Any odd-sized pieces can be chopped or pureed.

Chopped vegetables are best in takikomi gohan. Use the recipe for Rice Mixed with Mushrooms (page 21) as your guide. Chopped vegetables can also be used to stuff Broth-Steeped Kale Rolls (page 101) or added to Pan-Toasted Okara (page 167).

Pureed carrots are called for in Carrot Pudding (page 112). Or, use carrots with, or instead of, kabocha in the Creamy Kabocha Soup (page 85).


goes to waste in the Kansha kitchen!

Japanese Vegetable Cutters

decorative cutters, above:

plum blossom cutter (front)

cherry blossom cutters (center)

chrysanthemum cutter (back)

Transformed into plum blossoms...

Slice carrots into 1/4-inch thick circles. Use a decorative cutter to stamp out flower shapes; set aside the surrounding rings of carrot. 

Make shallow slits between petals 

Holding the blade at an angle.

Remove a thin wedge from each petal.

Three wedges removed, two more need to be made.