Kansha Kitchen Culture

The Japanese Culinary "Alphabet"

さ・し・す・せ・そ

sashisuseso




This Kansha Kitchen Culture page demonstrates that

Unlike kanji (calligraphy) that typically have several possible pronunciations, hiragana is a Japanese syllabary in which each symbol is always pronounced the same way. A combination of these two writing systems is used for most documents and literature (another syllabary, katakana, following the same order as hiragana, is used for emphasis and to write words of foreign origin). Japanese dictionaries and other reference works, however, will list words and topics in (constant) hiragana order, in much the same way that English-language reference books alphabetize word lists, beginning with A, then B, C, and so forth.

To maximize flavor and achieve tenderness with minimal cooking time (frugal use of fuel), the Japanese speak of cooking in “alphabetical” order: Sa, Shi, Su, , So. What this refers to is the order in which various seasonings, such as saké, satō (sugar), shio (salt), shōyu (soy sauce), su (vinegar), and miso, should be added. If you are unfamiliar with hiragana, the order will seem arbitrary. It is worth remembering, however, especially when cooking with kambutsu (dried foods)



sato・砂糖
(sugar)

Using them to their fullest...

TEXT

TEXT



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) 

松竹梅  


Pickles
Carrot Flower
SATO ・砂糖
(sugar)

Using them to their fullest...

TEXT

TEXT


Japanese Vegetable Cutters


decorative cutters, above:

plum blossom cutter (front)

cherry blossom cutters (center)

chrysanthemum cutter (back)




SATO ・砂糖
(sugar)

Using them to their fullest...

TEXT

TEXT


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.