Eating is essential to all beings. You and I are born, are nourished, grow, and become old and pass on. In the Zen practice, it is said that the monks and nuns often measured their time in the temple of meals they have eaten there.
In the Zen Buddhist, the appreciation of nature and it’s abundance with all aspects of life is a vital concern. With gratitude, we experience the beneficence of the life we live in every moment.
In enlightened healthy living, mostly all the foods are eaten, comes from natural resources in the form of vegetables, fruits, and nuts of every season, they are the best to nourish the body and soul.
A well-balanced Soup and Salad in healthy living in Zen Buddhist
- Kenshin Style – It is a warming vegetable soup made from root vegetables such as lotus roots, carrots, daikon radish stir-fried in sesame oil, then simmered in in kombu-flavored broth. Crumbing a block of tofu into the soup for all to share is an example of Zen’s belief that food should be divided equally between the residents of the temple, regardless of their status. This soup uses soy sauce, but some places use Mizo paste for a stronger flavor.
- Edamame soup – Edamame is soybeans that have been harvested when the pod is still green. Boiled the edamame and blended it with a kombu stock in a food processor until the beans are smooth and serve it as a soup.
- Carrot and mushroom soy milk soup- Soy milk, it is delicious on its own as a healthy drink and adds a mild and mellow flavor to the blended carrot and mushroom soup.
- Turnip soup with sesame – Boiled turnip in kombu stock with roasted sesame. Raw sesame seeds should be always be slightly roasted before using. Roast in a preheated, non-oil frying pan over low heat, shaking the frying pan back and forth until the seeds start to pop and release an aromatic, roasted smell.
- Sesame-flavored eggplant soup – Eggplants fried until golden brown in sesame oil are served in piping-hot konbu stock soup flavored with red Mizo.
- Shojin salad with peanut-flavored tofu dressing – This creamy peanut, lemon, and tofu dressing is a great way to enhance the taste of fresh vegetables, such as lettuce leaves, Japanese cucumber, avocado, tomato, and boiled asparagus.
- Soybean and seaweed salad with lemon-miso dressing – A softened boiled soybeans with seaweeds in a lemon-miso dressing is so delicious and tasty.
- Carrot, cucumber and celery salad with a miso dip – Miso, a fermented soybean paste, is one of Japan’s most traditional seasonings. It is found in white, light and dark brown or slightly red, which is most commonly used in miso soup but can also add a rich flavor to dips and dressings.
- Broccoli and cauliflower salad with tofu dressing – Broccoli and cauliflower are the same vegetable family, and both are rich in vitamin C. Par-boiled it and served with sesame-flavored tofu dressing.
- Eggplant salad with lemon-flavored plum dressing – Eggplant is so delicious in the fall and matches with plum dressing for cooling the body after the dreaded heat of summer.
- Spinach and Arugula salad with piquant dressing – Garnish with almond and deep-fried slices tofu to add a crunchy texture to the dish. Adding tomato and grapefruit makes the mixture more appetizing.
- Cannellini bean and wakame salad with lemon dressing – Peas, edamame beans, soybeans, or any mixture of different colored seeds can be a substitute of cannellini beans if it is not available. Wakame seaweeds and beans are both high in fiber, making the salad nutritious and tasty.
- Sweet potato and soybeans with miso and lemon sauce – Cut the potato into cubes and boil in salted water until soft so as well the soybeans. A miso and lemon sauce is a perfect match in this nutritious salad.
My First Taste of Salted Plum that I’ll remember though out my life.
Salty pickles are very popular in Japan. By far, the saltiest I’ve tried are the pickled plums called umeboshi.
My first taste of umeboshi occurred in a ryokan. It serves Zen foods; the day starts with a bracing cup of umeboshi paste tea.
Breakfast was eaten Noriyuki (traditional foods, which means ” that which contains just enough”) in a formal style, with the food passed down the middle of the table. I had just arrived and was starving, so after eating a big bowl of rice gruel, I was happy and excited to see a bowl of what appeared to soften purple or rather pink candied fruits heading my way.
I help myself to about five of them, barely registering the looks of shock, terror, and disbelief on the faces of the people beside and across the table from me.
The absolute shock which accompanied the first taste blew the top of my skull apart. Then each successive bite was like bringing the blade of a guillotine down on my tongue. But since it was my first time, I was damned if I was going to let on these, preferably not the most delicious little candied purple or slightly pink fruits I’d ever tasted.
Everyone had long-since finished eating, and I was sitting silently as a choked down the last umeboshi plum I was to eat for the next two years.
Even people who love umeboshi would be hard-pressed to eat more than two. That’s how incredibly salty they are.
Whenever you are served umeboshi for the first time, I’m warning you to try the smallest one. Good Luck.
Until the next post,