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The Enlightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan Hardcover – December 15, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA; 1St Edition edition (December 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770024932
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770024930
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #887,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vegetarians, vegans and even lovers of steak teriyaki will find much to savor in this introduction to the quiet wonders of Buddhist temple cuisine, or shojin ryori. Fujii draws upon 20 years of experience as an author and teacher in her native Japan—as well as kitchen secrets learned from her husband, a Buddhist monk—to explore a tradition that depends solely on seasonal vegetables, prepared in a spiritual way. She introduces the temple repertoire, from simple salads to vegetable soups and stews. Tae Hamamura's color photographs are mouth-watering, whether depicting Kenchin Style Vegetable Soup or a simple bowl of Ginger Rice. However, although Fujii is eloquent when she explains each dish's philosophy, she falls short on introducing Westerners to the cooking principles that underlie the tradition. Preparation techniques for basics like rice and stock are relegated, along with a crucial glossary of ingredients, to the back of the book, where they are dealt with perfunctorily. If Fujii had taken more trouble to introduce Americans to the foundations of temple cuisine—methods, tastes, ingredients—she would have better empowered them to make it their own and feed the stomach as well as the soul. (Jan.)
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Review


"The book is beautifully illustrated and the recipes are mostly simple, quick and easy to follow. Longtime vegetarians, especially those with a macrobiotic background (which in America has seriously deep Japanese roots), will be familiar with many of these ingredients. . . Fujii provides a helpful, illustrated glossary, as well as some basic how-to material for preparing staples." -Associated Press


"Vegetarians, vegans and even lovers of steak teriyaki will find much to savor in this introduction to the quiet wonders of Buddhist temple cuisine, or shojin ryori. ...Tae Hamamura's color photographs are mouth-watering, whether depicting Kenchin Style Vegetable Soup or a simple bowl of Ginger Rice." -Publishers Weekly


"Clean and crisp, this nourishing guide brings a healthy, natural culinary tradition from Japanese temples to the American table. . . . a true antidote to the overindulgent American diet, this is more than a recipe collection--it's a refreshing approach to food that is sure to make you look and feel renewed." -Kirkus Reviews


"Emphasizing natural and healthy ingredients such as fresh seasonal vegetables, and the staples of grains, and tofu, these creations are simple and elegant delights, delicious without undue extravagance. . . . Highly recommended." -Midwest Book Review


"Touting the benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets, The Enlightened Kitchen presents dishes that anyone would love, while the fantastic photographs will tempt even the most die-hard carnivore to at least try the recipes. Knowing that a healthy life-style and long life takes work, this new cookbook espouses good, sensible meals which can encourage weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity. The bonus? The food tastes good.... I'm hooked. I try to eat sensibly and plan to live to be 110! I expect The Enlightened Kitchen to help me meet my objective." -BookLoons.com


Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
The recipes are so simple but divinely delicious - and of course healthful!
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, author of The Joy of Vegan Baking and The Vegan Table
She stays with traditional Japanese vegetables, as well as occasionally incorporating rarities such as avocado and celery to mix things up.
Zack Davisson
It is beautifully photographed (in full colour) and gives enough detailed instructions so a novice cook can follow them.
pepita jobo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am lucky enough to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where "shojin" cuisine (Japanese Buddhist temple cuisine) is served to two wonderful restaurants: Cha Ya and Medicine. I often say "I could live on that cuisine," so when I discovered Fujii's cookbook, I was thrilled. The recipes are so simple but divinely delicious - and of course healthful! Many of the recipes call for only 5 or 7 ingredients, some of which may be unfamiliar at first. But, after your first visit to an Asian grocery or even the Asian aisle of your supermarket, you'll be ready to master this cuisine. As a vegan cooking instructor and a lover of this simple but elegant cuisine, I have prepared many of the dishes in this book and recommend each one as highly as the next. The simplicity is amazing, and the flavors are divine. You'll love this book!
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Buddhism being a religion of reincarnation, one of the precepts of cloistered monks is to harm "nothing that flees when chased." After all, that might just be your brother or wife from a past life sizzling in your cookpot. However, even those pursuing enlightenment must eat, and even monks like their food to be varied and tasty, so the spiritually pure tradition of "Shojin Ryori" was born.

Shojin Ryori is a vegan cuisine still served today in the temples of Japan, based on seasonal vegetables that can be grown by the monks. Eating food that follows the flow of nature is considered best for the body and soul, and seasoning is kept light so that the natural flavor of the fresh vegetables can be preserved.

Author Mari Fujii learned the arts of shojin ryori from her husband Sotetsu, who was the Tenzo, or temple cook, during his ten years as a monk. Now a priest at a temple in Kamakura, Sotetsu and Fujii teach shojin ryori to all who wish to learn. With "The Enlightened Kitchen," they have brought this wisdom to a wider audience, allowing all to partake of the healthy, natural and delicious style of cooking.

In seven section, including soups, salads, tofu/beans, vegetables, potatoes/rice/grains, and deserts, Fujii has selected easy-to-make dishes using seasonal vegetables that should be easy to find in any grocery store. The recipes are delightfully simple, and you will be amazed that such great food can come from such little effort. She stays with traditional Japanese vegetables, as well as occasionally incorporating rarities such as avocado and celery to mix things up. The base for most of the sauces is sake, miso paste, sesame oil, rice vinegar and lemon.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Written by the wife of a Buddhist monk who has taught temple cuisine for over twenty years, The Enlightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes From The Temples Of Japan is a cookbook of the traditional fare that has its roots in Japan's Buddhist temples. Emphasizing natural and healthy ingredients such as fresh seasonal vegetables, and the staples of grains, and tofu, these creations are simple and elegant delights, delicious without undue extravagance. All recipes are animal-free, making The Enlightened Kitchen especially ideal for vegetarians and vegans. Full-color photographs throughout and straightforward instructions clearly show the reader how to prepare such mouth- watering delicacies as Shiitake Mushrooms Stuffed with Tofu, Sushi Rolls (prepared entirely without fish), Buckwheat Crepes, Kenchin Style Vegetable Soup, and much more. Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By anonymoose on November 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I first leafed through this book after purchase, I was underwhelmed - some of the recipes are very similar to one another, and although filled with beautiful pictures, this too reduces the number of recipes in Enlightened Kitchen. Also, the ingredients are so few, and the preparation methods so simple, that I was doubtful as to how flavorful the dishes could ever really be. After sampling the recipes from this book, however, I was happy to be proved wrong on both counts! I've tried around 8 dishes so far, the standouts for me being the fried tofu with almonds (honestly the best fried tofu I've had anywhere), the walnut dressing (makes any steamed/raw veggies addictive), and the seaweed potato patties (very cute and even better when some onion is added). These recipes are deceptively short and simple - the mix of flavors are perfectly balanced in everything I've tried...I wish I lived near a restaurant that offered this kind of food!
The index is useful as well, and due to the presence of several Asian markets in my area I haven't had any trouble obtaining the right ingredients.
My only qualm (hence the 4 stars) is that I wish there were more tasty recipes in this book - the many pictures are beautiful of course, but not the reason I buy cookbooks.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By pepita jobo on December 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This books embodies the Japanese cuisine: the combination of few ingredients with the appropriate cooking technique (blanching, braising, roasting, deep-frying, poaching, steaming, etc.) to produce exquisite results.

It is beautifully photographed (in full colour) and gives enough detailed instructions so a novice cook can follow them. Please do not be discouraged at first if some ingredients can be difficult to find. Most of the recipes are not labour intensive and require few simple steps and ingredients.

In the short time I've had this book I've made Shiitake Sushi, the Green Beans and Eggplant with Sesame Dressing, Asparagus and Carrots with Walnut Dressing, and the Eggplant Salad with Lemon-Flavored Plum Dressing. Each dish was simple to make and absolutely delicious. All of them were absolutely delightful, a perfect marriage of flavours.

In this book Mari Fujii has made high end Japanese gourmet cuisine accessible. I look forward to making the other 60 recipes, and any other offerings from this author!
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