Shojin Ryori (精進料理 or しょうじんりょうり) is a vegetarian cuisine that is eaten at many Zen temples in Japan. Shojin Ryori is a low-calorie and low-fat diet when you compared it to western meals. The dishes are very simple and beautiful, and flavoured with ordinary ingredients such as miso, soy sauce, and vinegar. The Shojin Ryori cuisine does not use any dairy and honey products, so it’s a great option for vegans.
The interesting thing about this book is that it is not just your usual recipe cookbook, it also talks about the art of Shojin cooking – the attitude and spirit when preparing and eating the food, balance in the dishes (such as the 6 tastes, 3 virtues, 5 methods of cooking, and the 5 colors) and seasonal variation. The type of food used Shojin cooking varies for the different seasons. Even the rice used is different for every month. There are also certain dishes which can be used in all seasons.
The book also provides a section on the different ingredients used in Shojin cooking, with additional information for each ingredient. Another section provides information on the different equipment used in preparation. It also provides information on the tableware and food arrangement employed in the cuisine. The final part of that section is a list of the different menus for the 12 different months.
Another section of the book provides recipes on preparing the basic Japanese dishes: rice, miso soups, clear soups, and pickles according to the different seasons and months of the year. And finally, in the next section the rest of the different dishes are classified according to the different seasons of the year, as well as the type of vegetable used in preparing the dish. There is also a short explanation of each dish.
In the next few posts I will include a few beautiful pictures of the meals from the different seasons of the year found in the book.