Japanese Recipe – kinpira Renkon

August 23, 2009

Thanks to Atsuko’s Kitchen, which specialises in Japanese homestyle cookery classes, for our new monthly Japanese food feature.

Kinpira Renkon

Kinpira Renkon

On a sunny day, why not make a bento (lunch box) and have a picnic in the park.

Kinpira is a style of Japanese dish, using crunchy vegetables and basic Japanese seasonings.  It’s commonly found in bento boxes, as it’s quick and simple to make.

Renkon is also know as lotus root and can be found fresh, vacuum packed, or frozen, from Asian supermarkets (see the directory for a list).  It is full of fibre and vitamin B12, which helps absorb iron.  It’s important not to cook it too long as it ruins the crunchy texture.

You could also make this dish with other types of root vegetables such as parsnips, salad potatoes or celery.


300g renkon (lotus root)

1 carrot

1 age (friend tofu)


1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp mirin (Japanese rice wine)

3 tbsp shoyu (dark soy sauce)

1 taka no tsume (chili pepper)

A small pinch of ground sesame seeds


1. Slice the renkon and carrots into thin round slices. *If you use fresh renkon you need to soak it in water and a dash of vinegar for 10 mins then strain it. This will remove any bitter taste and stop it from darkening.

2. Wash the age in boiling water.  Squeeze the excess water from the age and dice.

3. Remove the seeds from the chili and slice as thinly as possible.

4. Heat the frying pan, add the sesame oil.

5. Fry the renkon and carrots.  When the oil has coated all the vegetables, then add the sugar, mirin and 2tbsp of shoyu.  Sprinkle the chili over the ingredients in the pan evenly.

6. Add 1/3 of a cup of water and bring it to the boil.  Cover pan with a lid.

7. Reduce to a medium heat and simmer for 4 mins.

8. Take the lid off, add 1tbsp of shoyu and increase the heat until the liquid has evapourated.

9. Finish by serving sprinkled with ground sesame.

10. Serve in a bento box or as a side dish.

More to come next month…


Zen Brushwork classes (Various)

August 13, 2009
Zen bruswork

Zen bruswork

16 August 09

A day workshop that will include zazen, yokiho (energy raising exercises), Zen brushwork and Jikishinkageryu Hojo (swordsmanship).
The focus across all the work is in relaxing the bodymind and allowing ki to flow freely.
It will be led by Sarah Moate sensei visiting from Japan, who trained for over twelve years with the late Rinzai Zen master Prof. Terayama Tanchu.

When: 16 August 2009, 10 – 4.30pm

Where: 19-22 Aug – Charney Bassett, Wantage, Oxon OX12 0EJ

Cost: £35

Contact: J.J.Daboo@exeter.ac.uk
19 – 22 August 09

A residential workshop that will include zazen, yokiho (energy raising exercises), Zen brushwork and Jikishinkageryu Hojo (swordsmanship).

It will be led by Sarah Moate sensei visiting from Japan, who trained for over twelve years with the late Rinzai Zen master Prof. Terayama Tanchu.

Arrival is from 5pm on Wed 19th and departure after 3pm on Sat 22nd August.

When: 19 –22 August

Where: Charney Bassett, Wantage, Oxon OX12 0EJ

Entrance cost: £315

Contact: mikewatkins@stdpharm.co.uk

Anime: Ayacon 2009

August 13, 2009
Haruko Momoi

Haruko Momoi

August will see the return of one the UK biggest anime conventions in the UK. The weekend will feature guests such as renowned Japanese singer song writer Haruko Momoi and lots of fun cosplay events.

Where: Warwick Arts Centre

When: Friday August 14th – Saturday 16th

Check the site out for a full listing of events and further details.

Traditional Japanese circus skills (Various)

August 12, 2009

Traditional Japanese circus skills

Watch out for spinning cups on umbrellas and flying balls tied to cups! Japanese Kendama (cup-and-ball) maestro, Yusuke Ito and Edo-Daikagura (traditional Japanese circus skill) performer, Senwaka, will visit venues around the UK in August and September. They will display their dynamic and artful techniques, and demonstrate some fine examples of Japanese cultural heritage. This promises to be a truly breathtaking and entertaining performance; a captivating and thrilling event for all the family. Following their performance, there will also be a chance for audience members to have a go and try these traditional skills for themselves

Where and when:

29 August, 3pm Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Glasgow
30 August, 2pm University Chapel, University of Glasgow
31 August, 1pm URBIS, Manchester
1 September, 1pm Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
5 September, 1.30pm The Forum, Norwich 
6 September, 4pm Southbank Centre’s Festival Riverside, London

Cost: All events are free, no booking required. Click on your nearest venue for details.

Art: Nobu Tsubaki (London)

August 12, 2009

Work by Noboru Tsubaki

Noboru Tsubaki is a contemporary artist who has been active on the world stage since the 1970s. His super-sized installations, such as the giant locust which was part of the Yokohama Triennale in 2001, are immediately eye catching and leave a lasting impression. However, despite this instant and easy engagement with viewers, the intention of his works is much more complicated than may first appear. As an artist who is constantly conscious of the relationship between art and society, Noboru’s rejection of pre-established harmony has inspired works in a number of media. He has used installations and digital applications to challenge the status quo, including the current position of Japanese contemporary art.

In this event, Noboru will illustrate his unique and radical world, his approach to art and society, and his thoughts about the interaction between Japanese contemporary art and subculture.

Date: 26 August 2009 from 6.30pm.

Where: The Japan Foundation, Russell Square House , 10-12 Russell Square 
London, WC1B 5EH.

Cost:  This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place please emailevent@jpf.org.uk giving your name and those of any guests.

TATSUYA YOSHIDA (RUINS – ALONE) – Residency at Cafe Oto

July 28, 2009


SAT 8 & SUN 9 AUG ’09

 “The undisputed master drummer of the Japanese Underground” 

Next weekend Cafe Oto will host Tatsuya Yoshida aka Ruins, a Japanese musician making exciting high energy music that fuses contemporary sounds with elements of hard core and progressive rock.  

Tatsuya has been working on his unique mix of drums, vocals and electronics since the 1980’s and has collaborated with a range of Japanese musical luminaries such as Acid Mothers Temple and Keiji Haino.  He is now highly acclaimed as one of the most innovative drummer/improvisers on the Japanese avant garde music scene.

This is one event we will definitely be attending; I saw a Ruins performance back in 2006 and his frenzied performances really are pretty electric to witness.  His live shows are much talked about so I am sure this event will sell out.

Ruins will also be performing on Friday 7th August at the Serpentine Gallery also organised by Cafe Oto, further details here

** As we’ve mentioned before, Cafe Oto is also a really unique venue; it’s sparky atmosphere, eclectic music programming, minimal warehouse style feel and array of oishii Japanese drinks and snacks (with occasional okonomiyaki) we think all make it a pretty special place very worthy of continuing support.

Where: Cafe Oto, 18-22 Ashwin St, Dalston, E8 3DL

When: Saturday 8th + Sunday 9th August, 8pm

Price: £8 one day / £14 weekend pass

Buy tickets:

SAT 8 AUG ’09  
SUN 9 AUG ’09 

Atsuko’s Kitchen: Japanese Cooking Classes (London)

July 27, 2009
Atsuko - Japanese Cookery London

Atsuko - Japanese Cookery London

Atsuko is a very lovely lady from the Kyushyuu region of Japan.  She regularly holds Japanese cookery classes for beginners and advanced students at the Grocery, Dalston.  The classes focus on homestyle Japanese cooking and show how Japanese cusine is more than just sushi (and so delicious too!).

All ingredients are provided for these very hands on classes  and you get to eat the food after you have cooked it.

Beginners learn the basics such as perfect rice and miso soup, teriyaki and nikujaga and some other lesser know gems and tips.

Atsuko is also holding some ‘advanced’ classes during August for those who have completed the beginners course.



When: Starts 4th August for 3 weeks.

Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Where: The Grocery, 54 -56 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8DP.

Cost: £99.00 for 3 classes including all ingredients.

Contact: classes@atsukoskitchen.com

Website: www.atsukoskitchen.com