Last Sunday I had a great opportunity to see what Shojin Ryori, Japanese Buddhist vegetarian diet, is like. An expert on shojin ryori, ms. Mari Fujii had prepared interesting dishes together with her daughter and another Japanese female chef.
The event was organized by the Japanese embassy in Finland, and it is held also in Helsinki. The introduction to shojin ryori took 2 hours and was free of charge.
I love the Japanese ingredients and way of culinary thinking. Tastes should be in balance, and presentation is very important part of the meal. I know that most of the Japanese dishes include bonito flakes or dashi stock which is made from fish, and that veganism could be a challenge. It can be quite hard to be sure about the ingredients of a dish if you can’t event read the name! It would be interesting to visit a temple or a shrine where shojin ryori is offered, that way I could at least be sure that the food is vegan.
Frying mashed (or shredded) potato was interesting, but reminded me of the filling of the potato karelian pie (which I am not a fan of). I really enjoyed the sprouts and spinach, and the fried mushroom was, well, a fried mushroom (although simmered in teriyaki sauce). The jiggly thing, made from lotus powder, was not to my liking since I have some issues with jello-like texture. The vegetarian maki we made was good, although the simple ingredients (cucumber, carrot, tofu) do not compete with the seafood sushis.
This event was really interesting, and I would be more than glad to attend to more this kind of cultural journeys!