My cookbook, KANSHA: Celebrating Japan's Vegan & Vegetarian Traditions (Ten Speed Press, 2010) provides a solid foundation to the principles and practice of kansha in the kitchen and at table. This workshop page enables me to guide you further.  ENJOY!

KANSHAworkshop: spicy sanshō


soy-stewed kelp with spicy sanshō berries

During the Edo period (1603-1868), the fish market serving the area now known as Tokyo, was located in Tsukuda. There, small and bruised fish with little or no commercial value, were preserved by simmering them in a mixture of soy sauce and mirin (syrupy saké brewed from mochi-gomé rice).  Huge vats of seasoned soy were re-used, becoming more intense with each new batch of fish simmered in it. When necessary, the soy sauce mixture was thinned with water. In the households of those who worked at the market, kitchen scraps and bits and pieces of kelp, fish flakes, and dried mushrooms left from making stock were re-cycled in a process that came to be known as Tsukuda ni, or “simmered in the manner of Tsukuda.” 

Foods simmered with sanshō pepper berries are often called "Arima ni." The region around Arima (in Hyogo prefecture, not far from Takarazuka) is known for its high quality and abundance of sanshō plants. Pictured below is Arima tsukudani kombu.

山椒 sanshō

Sanshō (Zanthoxylum piperitum Asian prickly ash) has separate male and female plants. The tongue-tingling berries (below, upper left) are harvested from FEMALE plants. The sunny-colored flowers (below, upper right) are harvested from MALE plants. The leaves, kinom
é are harvested from both.The season is short. Leaves are plucked late March through April. Young green berries (often called peppercorns) come to market in May and June. Mature berries that have turned red, then brown and split to reveal dark inner seeds -- these are called wari-zanshō -- are harvested in the fall.
Wari-zanshō is dried and crushed to make kona-zanshō.

USING FOOD FULLY: 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, considering what might be saved, rather than discarded. After making stock with kombu (kelp) and/or dried shiitaké mushrooms, SAVE the dashi-gara (leftover bits of kelp and/or mushroom) and soy-stew them, tsukuda ni style.

In today’s frugal washoku and kansha kitchen, pieces of kombu (kelp), that remain after making stock are transformed, Tsukuda ni style, into relish to be served with rice, or used to stuff hand-pressed rice triangles. Here is a spicy version, made with sanshō pepper berries. In WASHOKU, a milder version made with enoki mushrooms can be found on page 110.

Make your own soy-stewed kelp relish. Photo-illustrated details in the recipe.


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.