Koen and I see New Year’s Eve as a reason to indulge. Normally that means champagne, lobster, foie gras, and any other decadent food or ingredient we can think of – but this year we decided to challenge ourselves to create a kaiseki dinner for the two of us.
We had our first kaiseki experience in Kyoto in 2016 at the restaurant Kikunoi. Kaiseki is the epitome of fine dining in Japan, a multi-course meal constantly changing with the season reflecting what nature has to offer and showcasing the skills of the chef. We did our best to think of seasonality and using local ingredients.
A selection of beautifully prepared, bite-sized appetizers start the meal.
Koen created a North Sea shrimp cocktail inspired by Japanese flavors served with a slow-poached egg.
Suimono, or Soup
Often a simple clear broth sparingly garnished with vegetables, tofu or seafood.
I made a matsutake clear soup. I was so happy when I found these mushrooms at the butcher!
Seasonal themed second course.
Koen prepared grilled wild duck breast with a matsutake mushroom and pickled shallot, paired with a delicious glass of Nuits-Saint-Georges.
We decided to think outside the box, and rather than sashimi we bought a box of delicious French oysters which we paired with a special bottle of Laphroaig whisky which I bottled myself in Islay, Scotland.
A “lidded” dish, typically a soup.
I decided on a miso soup with soba noodles topped with tempura-ed prawns, served with a glass of Montagny.
Flame-grilled food, especially fish
For this dish, Koen grilled two filets of mackerel.
A steamed dish.
Koen prepared chawanmushi, a savory egg custard flavored with fish stock with mushrooms topped with salmon roe.
A seasonal dessert.
I read that rice cakes are very popular in Japan for the new year and chose to make zenzai, a sweet red bean soup with rice cakes served with genmaicha tea.