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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
43
Kansha: Celebrating Japan's Vegan and Vegetarian Traditions
Format: Hardcover|Change
Price:$28.00+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


on October 16, 2015
I like the simplicity, I just wish there were more pictures.
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on November 19, 2017
Fantastic book! Very thorough and informative.
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on October 13, 2015
Great cook book!
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on April 8, 2014
This book has a fantastic selection of recipes. My mother is Japanese and these recipes are all very authentic. It's a very traditional type of cuisine which most people wouldn't think of when then think of Japanese food but it's all vegan and delicious. Neither myself nor my husband are vegan but we have very much enjoyed these recipes.
The only down side is that some of the recipes have very detailed instructions with no pictures. That could be a problem if you are new to Japanese food or to cooking. Don't let this put you off as there are lots of easy recipes too.
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VINE VOICEon July 6, 2011
I was stationed in Japan for six months, and while there, I took four Japanese cooking classes. I purchased Kansha from Amazon Japan in December 2010, and enjoyed leafing through the many intriguing vegan recipes inspired by traditional Japanese Buddhism (because of my living arrangements in Japan, I didn't have a kitchen in which to try out these recipes). Being vegetarian in Japan is more difficult than it sounds; nearly every Japanese dish (with the exception of shojin ryori, vegan Buddhist temple cuisine) contains fish in some form, whether in the dashi (stock) or shavings of katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). The traditional Japanese diet, which was heavy on fish and fresh and pickled vegetables, is being replaced by deep-fried cutlets and American-style fast food joints like Mos Burger.

I was lucky enough to attend one of Elizabeth's Kansha workshops in Osaka shortly after the March 11 earthquake, and it was a much-needed chance to focus on appreciation (the English translation of "kansha") that my Japanese coworkers' and students' friends and families were safe. We made several of the recipes from Kansha around a hanami (cherry blossom viewing) theme, including Thick Fried Tofu & Broiled Tofu Braised with Root Vegetables, Simmered & Blanched Mountain Vegetables Tossed in Nutty Tofu Sauce. Rice with Salted Cherry Blossoms, Burdock and Wheat Strips in Dark Miso Broth, and Home-Made Nuka-Zuke. After the class, we went on a supermarket tour, where Elizabeth pointed out various types of sansai (wild mountain vegetables) and gave us a primer on soy sauces and basic pantry staples.

Despite the fact that the book is marketed as "Vegetarian and vegan traditions," Kansha is totally vegan (if you're looking for egg-based dishes like Japanese omelettes and chawanmushi, those can be found in Elizabeth's previous book Washoku). You'll find mock-mackerel sushi made from eggplant, light and springy cherry blossom rice, and a variety of pickles. There are some lovely regional recipes like goya (bitter melon), a popular vegetable from Okinawa, where it is commonly served in a stir-fry known as chanpuru. Yes, tofu gets its own chapter, but it's served in a variety of preparations that are commonly found in Japan, including a soymilk version of chawanmushi (steamed custard with savory bits of veggies), fried tofu (atsu age), yuba (rather substantial soymilk "skin"), and instructions on how to make your own tofu from soymilk. Varietal tofus (especially fried tofu skins used for inarizushi and in miso soup) may be near-impossible to find in your local grocery, but you can always fall back on that most Japanese staple of summer, hiyayakko: buy the highest-grade tofu you can find, cut into cubes, garnish with grated daikon, wasabi, or fresh grated ginger, drizzle with soy sauce and serve!

The book is gorgeously illustrated, and the recipes are very clearly laid out and explained step-by-step. The ingredient and kitchen tool section is excellent as well, but again, you will most likely have to mail-order many of the specialty items like rice molds, miso strainers, etc. I've ordered from Korin.com; they have a wide selection of imported Japanese tableware and kitchen tools.

The biggest challenge that home cooks will face is finding authentic fresh Japanese ingredients like mitsuba and shiso (herbs), burdock root, and takenoko (baby bamboo shoots) and prepared ingredients like dried seaweed (most US stores only carry nori sheets for sushi, but there are many common varieties in Japan, like hijiki, kombu, and wakame), umeboshi (pickled plums), and seasonings (unfortunately, our Japanese market did stock konnyaku, my most loathed Japanese ingredient; imagine a squiggly, translucent, chewy block of tasteless speckled jello).

I'm lucky in that my city has not one, but several Japanese markets and a large network of Japanese, but it's still difficult (and extremely expensive) to buy these ingredients in the US (I miss my local Heiwado grocery store in Japan!). Unfortunately, these recipes call for very specific ingredients without American substitutions, so for some Kansha may end up as a beautiful coffee table book. It's a beautiful volume and fine companion to Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen, which includes Japanese fish, meat and egg dishes, and vegetarians, vegans, and Japanophiles should certainly add this to their collection. If you're looking specifically for Japanese Buddhist temple cuisine (which is vegan), The Enlightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan covers that niche in greater detail.
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on October 20, 2010
A gorgeously produced and photographed book and a worthy companion to Washoku. Ms. Andoh's discussion of the Japanese kitchen, ingredients, cooking techniques, and "waste nothing" philosophy is lucid and inspiring. Even the most carnivorous Japanese food lover will find much here to add to their repertoire. The pickle section alone is worth the admission. I can't put this book down.

Ms. Andoh is an international treasure. One reviewer compared her to Julia Child, but I see Ms. Andoh more as another M.F.K. Fisher for her stunning prose and her approach to cooking and eating as a celebration of life. Check out her websites: [...] and [...]
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on August 22, 2015
I love this book! the recipes are easy to follow, and understandable. I cannot wait until my next party!
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on May 11, 2016
Since has so many japanese ingredients it should have more pictures. Nothing better than a good pic to describe better
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on October 25, 2016
In many ways I love this book. I'm a longtime vegetarian and lived in Japan for five years, and this book brings back all of my favorite foods. Japanese restaurants outside of major cities rarely offer this type of vegan cuisine, so if I want to eat it, I must make it myself. These recipes are detailed and true to the tradition, and all of my favorites are here. I just made one of the cabbage dishes--delicious and actually quite easy! Andoh's explanations of the cuisine and it's preparation in the introduction and final chapters are wonderful, as well.

Unfortunately, the lack of pictures makes this book nearly impossible to use. Honestly, if I hadn't lived in Japan so long and been already acquainted with this cuisine, I would be at a complete loss with how to go about preparing these dishes. So much of Japanese food culture is in its presentation. Having these recipes without images takes away half the value of this book. If you want to actually cook these recipes, be prepared to supplement with internet research.

That said, if you want to make vegan Japanese cuisine at home, I think this book is still worth the investment.

But that said, please publisher, put out a new edition with pictures!!!
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on July 8, 2014
Elizabeth Andoh is the foremost interpreter of Japanese cuisine for Western audiences, and Kansha continues her thoughtful and careful study of the subject. I am neither vegan nor vegetarian, although I do frequently have meatless meals. This beautiful book contains recipes that would appeal to any devotee of Japanese food, regardless of one's preferences on the consumption of meat. I also have Andoh's earlier book, Washoku, and find that Kansha is a complimentary volume, offering a wider selection of vegetable-based dishes to round out a meal using recipes from Washoku.

I appreciate Andoh's informational chapters, including selection of ingredients and cooking techniques. The photographs are gorgeous and inspiring. Many recipes offer additional tips that expand one's knowledge of Japanese cooking. I consider this a necessary purchase for those who use and appreciate Washoku.
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