Seven Good Fortunes of Summer


Nothing Goes to Waste in the Kansha Kitchen

KANSHA means appreciation, and one way of demonstrating kansha in the kitchen and at table is to avoid waste. Using food fully means re-thinking your kitchen habits, focusing special attention on what could -- and should -- be used. And, consider what might be saved, rather than discarded.

Look in the veggie bin of your refrigerator and on your cupboard shelf. There are probably bits and pieces of carrot and cucumber past their prime though still edible. Maybe a wilted radish, and perhaps a forgotten, forlorn-looking eggplant? Half a green pepper or some cauliflower or broccoli stems? Turn these and other vegetable scraps into a crunchy, sweet-sour-and-spicy, chutney-like mixture called FUKUJIN-ZUKÉ (Seven Gods of Good Fortune Pickle).

As the name Seven Gods of Good Fortune suggests, this pickle is typically made with seven ingredients, though you need not be so literal. Having at least four items insures variety of color, texture and flavor but trying to use more than a dozen veggies confuses flavors. Aim for 5 or 6 making sure you include fresh ginger (or the juice extracted from a chunk of ginger if the rhizome itself seems stringy). Other suggestions include some sort of fresh mushroom -- slender enoki are especially good though ordinary button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced, will also work and/or fruit -- a browning wedge of apple is perfect (diced but not peeled), a few seedless grapes (sliced in half, lengthwise) can also be added.

Photo from KANSHA   © Copyright Leigh Beisch, 2010.

Refrigerated in a covered glass container, fukujin-zuké can be enjoyed for 4 to 5 weeks.This lively pickle is most often served with foods that have been flavored with curry -- the Japanese ubiquitous curry rice. Most commercially prepared pickles have been tinted red. If you want bright color in your final dish, try adding diced sweet red peppers and/or red delicious apple with the skin left on.
Download the recipe:  FUKUJIN-ZUKÉ


Kitchen Culture:  Seven Gods of Good Fortune

Above are the Seven Gods of Good Fortune, Shichi Fukujin. At table the seven good luck gods appear in several guises: as a blend of seven spices called shichimi tōgarashi, or as a mélange of seven flavors such as this pickle, fukujin-zuké.

Top row left to right:

Ebisu, god of fishermen and merchants, often depicted carrying a sea bream. Daikokuten (Daikoku), god of wealth, commerce, and trade. (Ebisu and Daikoku are often paired and represented as carvings or masks on the walls of small retail shops.) Fukurokuju, god of happiness, wealth, and longevity.

Bottom row, left to right:

Hotei, plump, happy god of abundance and good health. Bishamonten, god of warriors, demonstrates strength and prowess. Jurōjin, god of wisdom. Benzaiten (Benten-sama), goddess of knowledge, beauty,art, and music.

Word-Play makes JULY 29th


Shichi          Fuku 

七    福
Seven          Good Fortunes

7月 29日

The number SEVEN (7) can be pronounced either shichi or nana. Here it is "shichi."

The number TWO (2) can be pronounced either fu or ni. Here it is "fu" of the number 29.

The number NINE (9) can be pronounced either ku or kyu. Here it "ku" of the number 29.


JULY is the 7th month. July 29th is SHICHI FUKU, the day of Good Fortune!


Some pickle-possibilities

to stimulate your appetite, and thinking...

Carrots, Kabocha, Eggplants, Ginger, Enoki, Peppers, Burdock

Dishes in the featured menu can be found in my cookbook, KANSHA: Celebrating Japan's Vegan & Vegetarian Traditions (Ten Speed Press, 2010). They are referenced here by page number. Click on the recipe titles above to download photo-illustrated documents that provide information not included in the book  -- details about ingredients, tools & techniques, menu planning and/or final presentation.

I welcome your feedback -- especially captioned photos with a brief description of your kitchen sessions when you try making the recipes above. Those interested in offering feedback, please download a set of guidelines for submitting and displaying your work.To further teaching goals, I may post some of the feedback to this site, adding my commentary.

Every 6 to 7 weeks, I will post a new lesson to this KANSHAWorkshop page
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