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Ichiro Kubota: the spirit of kaiseki

Ichiro Kubota: the spirit of kaiseki

Eric Boucher - 2010-08-10

It’s hard to explain to a Westerner exactly what kaiseki cuisine is… Far from having grasped all the subtleties, we’ll confine ourselves to generalities here. In the video, Ichiro Kubota demonstrates how to prepare the sashimi featured on a kaiseki menu.

The origin of cha kaiseki or cha kaiseki ryori dates back to the late 16th century, when it was traditionally served during the tea ceremony. It was a frugal meal (a bowl of rice, soup and three side dishes) designed to take the edge off one’s appetite and thereby heighten enjoyment of the green tea. As time went by, an increasing number of establishments began to serve kaiseki cuisine without the tea ceremony and the proceedings became more and more sophisticated. In Japan today, kaiseki restaurants are high gastronomy establishments, serving up to fourteen courses and decorating their tables with crockery and pieces of porcelain that are often unique works of art. The formality of kaiseki has made it the most influential cuisine for the great chefs of international gastronomy.
 
To understand kaiseki cuisine, one must go back to the fundamental principles of Japanese gastronomy and its essential relationship with nature. The more seasonal the food, the more it expresses the quintessence of nature and, as such, is known as shun. Emphasis is placed not only on seasonal produce but also on local produce, with local preparation methods believed to contain great ancestral wisdom. For the same reasons, the Japanese pay particular attention to the freshness of produce and have developed preparation methods that express its essence. Unlike western cuisine, which adds to the produce to show it to advantage, Japanese cuisine strips away everything that is unessential.
 
Kaiseki is the ultimate Japanese gastronomy: seasonal cuisine elevated to an art form. The dishes must be presented in a way that is very aesthetically pleasing and designed with either a certain harmony or contrast between the flavours and colours. The ingredients must be shun, respect the theme of the season and be prepared in a way that will bring out their original flavour. Chefs often use natural elements, such as flowers and bamboo or maple leaves, to decorate their dishes. Each dish undergoes careful staging, or skudi, as in the preparation of sashimi demonstrated by Ichiro Kubota (see video).
 
Kaiseki is an aesthetic and spiritual, as well as culinary, experience and never has Japanese gastronomy been more deserving of its reputation as “food for the eyes”.
 
Ichiro Kubota is actually the chef of the one-Michelin-starred Umu restaurant in London.

It’s hard to explain to a Westerner exactly what kaiseki cuisine is… Far from having grasped all the subtleties, we’ll confine ourselves to generalities here. In the video, Ichiro Kubota demonstrates how to prepare the sashimi featured on a kaiseki menu.

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Ichiro Kubota: the spirit of kaiseki

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    • Language: gbr
    • Position : With friends

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    A beautiful little presentation by a charming chef who attempted to shine a little light on japanese food and its preparation. Another 400 and we'll begin to understand japanese cuisine.

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