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
could -- and should -- be used... And, considering what might be saved,
rather than discarded. After you have enjoyed juicy chunks of chilled
watermelon, DON'T DISCARD the rinds!!!!
Pickle them, instead.
Get the recipe for SWEET & SPICY WATERMELON RINDS
Good to the Last Drop... Melon Juice!
In Japan, fresh fruit is often a gift item, especially
melons that can be exceedingly expensive. Even in ordinary supermarkets where home cooks shop to serve their families, melons fetch a high price. The Andes
melon, grown in Kumamoto Prefecture, that you see pictured immediately below was bought for 600 yen (about $7.50 at the
current exchange rate) at my local supermarket in Osaka. I was one, of only 50, lucky customers to grab the day's gentei hanbai ("limited sales item"). Ordinarily, the melons go for twice that price. Not
wanting to waste a single drop of the delicious, precious, juice that trickled out when I cut the melon in half, I made a refreshing aspic from it.
Click here to download the recipe for MELON ASPIC メロン寒
Luscious, ripe melon bursting with delicious juice (left)... Not
wanting to waste a single drop, I scrape the seeds into a strainer set over a bowl to collect the juice.
Pressing the seeds (and melon meat that clings to them), I am able to release and collect 2/3 cup juice from a fairly small (about 700 grams/1 and 1/2 pounds) Andes (honeydew-sweet) melon.
Japan has bred and developed many varieties of melon, including both "red" (cantaloupe cultivars) melons such as QUINCY & YUBARI and "green" (musk melon cultivars) melons such as TAKAMI & ANDES & PRINCE melons. Japan has also become famous (infamous?) for its watermelons: square shaped ones, and jet black, smooth-skinned DENSUKE. If you have an opportunity to sample any of these, you will be in for a treat -- hopefully being treated to them by some wealthy patron of the culinary arts.
Like most consumers in Tokyo in the late 1970's, I assumed that Andes
melon had originated in South America. Not so. It is the result of Japanese breeding, and its clever name is an abbreviation for anshin desu: "safe." Most melons are subject to pests but this varietal is especially resistant. Because it is less labor-intensive to grow and harvest, it comes to market at a more reasonable price than its botanical relatives, musk melons.
ANDES アンデス 安心です anshin desu
A pair of Yubari melon were auctioned in 2008 at the Sapporo City Central Wholesale Market for the outrageous price of 2.5 million yen. Calculated at the average exchange rate for that year, each melon cost more than $10,000 !!! Japanese news coverage suggested it was a gesture (a very generous gesture!) on the part of a local business to support the community that had declared bankruptcy the previous year. Whatever the reason, those melons were ranked the third most expensive food item for that entire year. (Italian White Alba Truffle and Iranian Almas caviar were first and second, respectively, for 2008).
Most Yubari melons are priced around 6,000 yen (about US $75 at today's exchange rate) for a single, webbed orb, nestled in a tissue-filled, be-ribboned box. Many, however, boast price tags of 20,000 yen (about US $250), or more.
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