[Note: This post is from 2005. I retrieved this in draft form, found the pictures on my defunct Flickr site, and am re-posting it in the spirit of re-reviving this blog. I love the gentleness of the cookbook and its cuisine, and the reminders of cooking such delicate yet hearty foods in Japan. The dishes are also presented, deliberately I think, on some of the first ceramics I made in my life, at that sweet little studio near the Nishiiki market in downtown Kyoto.]
Since coming into possession of my new cookbook - The Enlightened Kitchen by Mari Fujii - I have been waiting for an opportunity to try cooking one of those delicate temple meals, laden with different combinations and preparations of tofu, seaweed, eggplant, sweet potato, pumpkin, mushrooms, and persimmons. I was very pleased with how this one turned out. Although I didn't go vegetarian as Fujii recommends in her gorgeous rhapsodizing of shojin ryori (Japanese temple cuisine), her luscious pictures of surprising vegetable-rice-potato combinations perched on artisanal plateware zinged me into action.
I gave myself over to an hour of blissful indecision and happy preparation, and produced things out of ingredients I had on hand: fried eggplant drizzled with tomato sauce; lean pork sauteed with persimmon, ginger rice. The latter came strictly out of Fujii's book. The eggplant was also inspired by it - but the sauce was a time-saving substitute for more elaborate dengaku and miso flavorings.