Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Zen Cooking

Last Sunday, Mark, Susan and I attended a special vegetarian cooking class.

The cuisines we learnt was Shojin Ryori (精进料理)
-- yes, Japanese cuisines with a touch of Zen!

According the cooking teacher,
Danny, also the co-founder of Enso Kitchen,
Shojin means the devotion of energy (in term of Zen/Buddhism practice).
So, Shojin cuisine naturally upholds Zen-mindfulness as the intrinsic core
of the food preparation and dining.

The dishes taught were actually very simple,
but, tasty and beautiful (in presentation).
--I particularly like the blanched vegetables with walnut-mirin sauce;
simple but tasty tasty tasty!..

Danny put a lot of emphases, during his class,
on the Zen principles.
He educated us that, in Shojin Ryori, there should be:
1. minimal wastage during food preparation
2. use of seasonal ingredients (live according to 4 seasons)
3. not too much seasoning in each dishes, so as to keep the taste naturally pure/tasty
4. food prepared/dishes presented in the perspective of diner
(e.g. how to appeal the apetite of diner, how to make the dishes convenient for diner to eat etc)
5. focus and totally immerse during food preparation

At the end of the cooking class, when we were trying out the dishes,
I noticed, on the wrapper of the chopsticks, these teachings were printed:

"Contemplate on the 5 Reflections of Shojin Ryori before eating
(a custom commonly practised in Zen temples):
-Reflect on the effort that brings us this food
-Reflect on our imperfections as we receive the meal
-Reflect on mindfulness to be free from anger, attachment and ignorance
-Reflect on taking this food as medicine to sustain good health
-Reflect on the fulfillment of our practice as we accept offerings"

It was indeed an enriching cooking class,
in both culinary and spiritual manner =)

With gratitude,
Kee Yew

{Learning Holistic Wellness for Wisdom and Compassion}


  1. I wanted to attend to, but FULL ...

    In fact, i feel that getting to know Buddhism via Temple Cooking especially those vegetarian cuisines that have beautiful long history like Japanese, Korean etc would be real fun, exciting and informative.

    There are Buddhist Museums, but no Temple Food Museum/eatery that pass on the goodness and beauty in this type of food that are influence by the essence of Buddhism.

    If you know any place that conduct classes on how to cook Sri Lanka Jack fruit Curry (I had it at Ren Ci Food Fair, cooked by a Buddhist Monk, it was simply delicious), let me know.

    Thank you very much.

    Cheers crystal

  2. Hi hi Crystal,

    Indeed, it is very interesting if we put a dash of spirituality into healthy vegetarian food :D

    I guess, Enso is the pioneer in this direction.
    Hopefully they will inspire more people doing more food with a soul in it..kekek..

    I heard of this Sri Lankan jackfruit curry before; if I come across it, I will advertise on this blog! -- I probably will attend the class myself too.. hahaha :D

    Nice day,
    Kee Yew

  3. Thank you Kee Yew, will come to your blog on and off to check out more good stuff ...

    Cheers :)


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