Chef Murata’s Harvest Moon Kaiseki

Kikunoi’s Chef Murata talks about the foodways of Otsukimi, the celebration of the Harvest Moon, followed by a typical kaiseki offering at Kikunoi for September.

Kyoto tsukimi-dango

Kyoto tsukimi-dango

September is the month of Otsukimi, celebrating the Harvest Moon. Personally, though, I love to watch not only the full moon, but all the phases of the moon as it waxes and wanes through the month. It’s typical to make offerings to the moon in the form of tsukimi-dango [mochi dumplings shaped like a full moon], as well as chestnuts and satoimo [small taro] and other autumn vegetables. However, since olden times, in Kyoto, the tsukimi-dango are made in the shape of the satoimo and then covered with koshian [adzuki bean paste]. Throughout September, we decorate the entry to Kikunoi with these seasonal offerings, but sadly we can’t actually see the rising full moon from here, so I put up a scroll that shows the full moon instead. For the principle dish [hassun] of the kaiseki meal this month I want to evoke the sense of watching the full moon from a little boat on the lake, with the moon reflected on the surface of the water and the autumn leaves floating by, and as you look towards the shoreline, you can see the pampas grass gently swaying. I want to give the feeling of an evening vista in autumn.

Kikunoi September Hassun

Kikunoi September Hassun

Hassun:

1) Sea bream chrysanthemum sushi (鯛菊花寿司 tai kikka sushi)
Sushi rice mixed with chrysanthemum petals and yuzu, wrapped with lightly vinegared sea bream to form the shape of a chrysanthemum flower

2) Hamo eel and burdock roll (鱧八幡巻き hamo yawata-maki)
Grilled hamo eel wrapped around simmered burdock [gobo]

3) Prawn matsukaze (海老松風 ebi matsukaze)
Minced kuruma prawns mixed with egg and seasonings and baked in the oven and then sprinkled with poppy seeds

4) Baked wrapped chestnuts (焼き目栗茶巾 yakime kuri chakin)
Chestnuts wrapped in a tea-towel and baked in the oven

5) Ginko sweet potato (いちょう芋 ginnan imo)
Sweet potato formed into the shape of a ginko leaf and deep fried

6) Glass shrimp in Shaoxing wine with trout roe (ガラサ海老老酒漬けのすだち釜・鱒の子 garasa ebi raochu-dzuke no sudachi kama, masu no ko)
Glass shrimp are small shrimp harvested in Akashi. The live shrimp are soaked in Shaoxing wine then placed in a sudachi cup and topped with trout roe

7) Salted ginkgo nuts (塩粉吹き銀杏 shio kofuki ginnan)
Ginkgo nuts dusted with fine salt and roasted

8) Somen pine needles (松葉素麺 matsuba somen)
Green tea fine noodles deep-fried to look like pine needles

Source: 菊乃井・風花雪月


2 Comments on “Chef Murata’s Harvest Moon Kaiseki”

  1. Sissi says:

    It looks like a piece of art, not a meal. On my second trip to Tokyo (I came back on Tuesday) I finally tasted ginkgo nuts and actually liked them (I have heard many people are not fond of them). They were grilled with chicken on skewers I think. Unfortunately, after several new attempts I am still not converted to adzuki paste… I do love dango though when they are very soft and for example dusted with sesame.

    • Cate Pearce says:

      Lucky you Sissi! How was Tokyo? Did you eat lots of great food and get inspired? Gingko nuts are wonderful char-grilled, and as for adzuki paste – please don’t give up yet! Try a simple daifuku sweet [like dango filled with sweet beans “anko”] with strong good-quality green tea: the mixture of the bitter and the sweet is a taste sensation.


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