Shojin ryori is the traditional dining style of Buddhist monks in Japan, and grew widespread in popularity with the spread of Zen Buddhism in the 13th century. As the cuisine is made without meat, fish or other animal products, it can be enjoyed by vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
A typical shojin ryori meal is centered around soybean-based foods like tofu along with seasonal vegetables and wild mountain plants, which are believed to bring balance and alignment to the body, mind, and spirit. This simple meal contributed to Japan’s elegant haute cuisine called kaiseki, and today can be eaten at the dining halls located in Buddhist temples across Japan.
Chef Tutor Sachiko Saeki featured on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘River Cottage Veg Heroes’ series. In this class you will use the ‘rule of five’ when cooking so that every meal offers five colors (green, yellow, red, black, and white) as well as five flavors (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami), which are drawn out naturally from the ingredients rather than added via additional flavorings.
Content about Shojin Ryori adapted from Savor Japan
Photograph credit to Pak Keung Wan