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Kansha: Celebrating Japan's Vegan and Vegetarian Traditions [Hardcover]

Elizabeth Andoh
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 19 2010
The celebration of Japan’s vegan and vegetarian traditions begins with kansha—appreciation—an expression of gratitude for nature’s gifts and the efforts and ingenuity of those who transform nature’s bounty into marvelous food. The spirit of kansha, deeply rooted in Buddhist philosophy and practice, encourages all cooks to prepare nutritionally sound and aesthetically satisfying meals that avoid waste, conserve energy, and preserve our natural resources.
 
In these pages, with kansha as credo, Japan culinary authority Elizabeth Andoh offers more than 100 carefully crafted vegan recipes. She has culled classics from shōjin ryōri, or Buddhist temple cuisine (Creamy Sesame Pudding, Glazed Eel Look-Alike); gathered essentials of macrobiotic cooking (Toasted Hand-Pressed Brown Rice with Hijiki, Robust Miso); selected dishes rooted in history (Skillet-Scrambled Tofu with Leafy Greens, Pungent Pickles); and included inventive modern fare (Eggplant Sushi, Tōfu-Tōfu Burgers).
 
Andoh invites you to practice kansha in your own cooking, and she delights in demonstrating how “nothing goes to waste in the kansha kitchen.” In one especially satisfying example, she transforms each part of a single daikon—from the tapered tip to the tuft of greens, including the peels that most cooks would simply compost—into an array of wholesome, flavorful dishes.
 
Decades of living immersed in Japanese culture and years of culinary training have given Andoh a unique platform from which to teach. She shares her deep knowledge of the cuisine in the two-part A Guide to the Kansha Kitchen. In the first section, she explains basic cutting techniques, cooking methods, and equipment that will help you enhance flavor, eliminate waste, and speed meal preparation. In the second, Andoh demystifies ingredients that are staples in Japanese pantries, but may be new to you; they will boost your kitchen repertoire—vegan or omnivore—to new heights.
 
Stunning images by award-winning photographer Leigh Beisch complete Kansha, a pioneering volume sure to inspire as it instructs.

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Kansha: Celebrating Japan's Vegan and Vegetarian Traditions + Enlightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan
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Review

“The kansha lifestyle asks for us to slow down and be more deliberate, and to cultivate an awareness of our surroundings, the seasons and the nature of our own appetites. How refreshing and wise!”
—TheKitchn.com, 1/13/11

“The word "kansha" means "appreciation," and there's much to appreciate with Elizabeth Andoh's celebration of Japanese vegan and vegetarian traditions. Andoh, who was Gourmet magazine's Japan correspondent for more than three decades, offers more than 100 recipes, many of them complicated enough for experienced cooks looking for a good challenge.”
—Portland Oregonian, Best of 2010, 12/21/10

“Because any cookbook by Elizabeth Andoh deserves a long, thoughtful look. Her latest, Kansha, is an elegant spread of vegan and vegetarian Japanese dishes, as narrated in her characteristic cultural history discovery tone.”
—LA Weekly, Squid Ink blog, Top 10 Cookbook And Drink Gift Pairings, 12/14/10

“It’s great to open up a cookbook and absorb all the years and effort that an author puts into the publication. If you’re into Japanese, vegan, or vegetarian cooking, Elizabeth Andoh’s Kansha  should be in your collection. She writes with humor and utmost care because she wants you to understand and appreciate Japanese food traditions. The recipe collection is full of insights that she accumulated during her decades in Japan. . . . Kansha captures the culinary distinctions and artful aspects of Japanese cuisine. The food tastes good too!”
—Andrea Nguyen, Viet World Kitchen, 2010 Cookbook Picks, 12/11/10

"Kansha brings the abundance of possibilities plant foods offer into focus without dwelling on the absence of others, a more delicate, embracing approach. I’ve come away from this book with the feeling that Kansha, both the book and the word, embody a spirit that moves more from the heart and less from the brain. Above all it expresses grace. I was thinking of grace as in gracefulness, but it could also mean grace as in a state of grace, of gratitude, of giving thanks. This approach to vegan and vegetarian food involves a deep and subtle shift away from how we might usually approach dietary limits and choices."
—DeborahMadison.com, 12/7/10

“The Japanese-food expert expands vegans’ repertoire while making tofu appealing to all.”
—The New York Times Book Review, Web Extra: 25 More Cookbooks, 12/3/10

“Kansha is a large, lavish book, beautifully packaged and packed with foolproof recipes. More than that, though, it is a detailed compendium of Japanese food culture, making it the perfect gift for anyone interested in cooking and eating, irrespective of whether or not they are vegetarian.”
—The Japan Times, 12/2/10

“What's the vegetable equivalent of butcher's nose-to-tail, the meatless version of everything-but-the-squeal? In her latest cookbook, Kansha, Elizabeth Andoh explores the concept ichi motsu zen shoku (one food, used entirely), a Japanese vegan philosophy that means using every last bit of vegetables from frond-to-root. . . . Kansha is both a book and a concept worth exploring.”
—GOOD.com, 12/1/10

"Andoh is one of the premier writers of Japanese cuisine and she explains the philosophy behind the thoughtful and considered food choices the Japanese make."
—FoxNews.com, The Fox Foodie: Sixteen Sweet Cookbooks, 11/30/10

"In a world of meatless Mondays, how does a sanctimonious foodie keep a leg up? Tokyo-based chef Elizabeth Andoh’s Kansha is a good place to start. Her recipes for creamy leek soup, sour soy-pickled ramps, and brown sugar ice are authentically Japanese and tasty enough for carnivores."
—DailyCandy, The Best New Fall Cookbooks, 11/12/10

"Because of the lack of books available on this topic, this will be much appreciated not only by vegetarians, vegans, and Japanese food enthusiasts but by any adventurous cook looking for a distinctive perspective on fresh, healthy food. Highly recommended, especially for vegetarians, vegans, and those interested in green living."
—Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW, 9/15/10

Kansha is a beautiful collection of gentle, thrifty recipes, and a fascinating introduction to Japanese vegetarian cooking. Elizabeth Andoh writes with authority and an infectious love of Japan and its culinary traditions.”
—Fuchsia Dunlop, author of Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China
 
“What a fresh and deeply informative book. The recipes are beguiling, and at last I can make sense out of Japanese ingredients I’ve long found mystifying. But I especially love the sensibility of Kansha, an approach to life and to food that feels so right. By all means, don’t skip the introduction of this wonderful new book from Elizabeth Andoh.”
—Deborah Madison, author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and Seasonal Fruit Desserts
 
“It is with deep appreciation and utmost joy that I welcome the arrival of Kansha. So much more than just a recipe compendium, this gorgeous work serves as an exquisite, thoroughly detailed, careful, and caring guide to the people, culture, and cuisine of Japan. Working through Elizabeth’s dishes, I felt lovingly guided and nurtured, expertly instructed, and, finally, deliciously nourished. Kansha is clearly the work of a lifetime of passionate study, and a wonderful gift for every cook and appreciator of Japanese cuisine. I am so very grateful for it.”
—Michael Romano, chef, author, and President of Culinary Development, Union Square Hospitality Group
 
“Andoh is at once lyrical and meticulous, taking the reader effortlessly from the profundities of Japanese culinary philosophy to practical and novel culinary techniques. Not just for vegans and vegetarians, Kansha is a veritable treasure trove for transforming even the humblest of vegetables into delicacies, and for exploring the full potential of rice, noodles, and tofu.”
—Rachel Laudan, food historian and author of The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Culinary Heritage
 
“I haven’t been so excited about a new cookbook in years. Andoh’s book, Kansha, has stirred me so—I cannot wait to get cooking. From premise to practice, Andoh’s personal lessons to the cook are engaging and valuable. Even people who have never been to Japan will relish the vegetable dishes and enjoy the stimulation, authority, and, above all, the array of Japanese dishes Kansha provides. For Japan hands like me, who’ve missed the pickles, sesame tofu, and soy skin delicacies, it is as though the teacher we’ve wanted is by our side, showing us we can make these foods from scratch ourselves, far from Japan. Kansha means appreciation, and Andoh has my undying gratitude.”
—Merry White, professor of food anthropology at Boston University
 

About the Author

ELIZABETH ANDOH is the American authority on Japanese cuisine. She has made Japan her home since 1967 and divides her time between Tokyo and Osaka, directing a culinary program called A Taste of Culture. Her book Washoku won the 2006 IACP Jane Grigson award for distinguished scholarship in food writing and was nominated for a James Beard Award.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts... Sept. 14 2011
By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Kansha roughly translates as "appreciation," a cooking philosophy that encourages mindfulness, emphasizes nutrition and wastes nothing. This book contains a myriad of Japanese vegan recipes complete with gorgeous photos and an in-depth explanatory section on ingredients and kitchen tools.

Andoh's previous compendium, "Washoku," includes egg and meat-based dishes but "Kansha" enters the world of mock-mackerel sushi, goya (bitter melon) stirfry and steamed soy milk custard. Obtaining more obscure ingredients like burdock root and umeboshi (pickled plums) may prove difficult but, even if you never cook anything from the book, "Kansha" still provides a wealth of information for anyone with an interest in Japanese food and culture.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 11 2014
By Ryan
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Fantastic book with many interesting facts, recipes and techniques that cannot be easily found elsewhere or online. Highly recommended
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gorgeous cookbook that inspires appreciation July 6 2011
By Bundtlust - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was stationed in Japan for six months, and while there, I took four Japanese cooking classes. I purchased Kansha from Amazon Japan in December 2010, and enjoyed leafing through the many intriguing vegan recipes inspired by traditional Japanese Buddhism (because of my living arrangements in Japan, I didn't have a kitchen in which to try out these recipes). Being vegetarian in Japan is more difficult than it sounds; nearly every Japanese dish (with the exception of shojin ryori, vegan Buddhist temple cuisine) contains fish in some form, whether in the dashi (stock) or shavings of katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). The traditional Japanese diet, which was heavy on fish and fresh and pickled vegetables, is being replaced by deep-fried cutlets and American-style fast food joints like Mos Burger.

I was lucky enough to attend one of Elizabeth's Kansha workshops in Osaka shortly after the March 11 earthquake, and it was a much-needed chance to focus on appreciation (the English translation of "kansha") that my Japanese coworkers' and students' friends and families were safe. We made several of the recipes from Kansha around a hanami (cherry blossom viewing) theme, including Thick Fried Tofu & Broiled Tofu Braised with Root Vegetables, Simmered & Blanched Mountain Vegetables Tossed in Nutty Tofu Sauce. Rice with Salted Cherry Blossoms, Burdock and Wheat Strips in Dark Miso Broth, and Home-Made Nuka-Zuke. After the class, we went on a supermarket tour, where Elizabeth pointed out various types of sansai (wild mountain vegetables) and gave us a primer on soy sauces and basic pantry staples.

Despite the fact that the book is marketed as "Vegetarian and vegan traditions," Kansha is totally vegan (if you're looking for egg-based dishes like Japanese omelettes and chawanmushi, those can be found in Elizabeth's previous book Washoku). You'll find mock-mackerel sushi made from eggplant, light and springy cherry blossom rice, and a variety of pickles. There are some lovely regional recipes like goya (bitter melon), a popular vegetable from Okinawa, where it is commonly served in a stir-fry known as chanpuru. Yes, tofu gets its own chapter, but it's served in a variety of preparations that are commonly found in Japan, including a soymilk version of chawanmushi (steamed custard with savory bits of veggies), fried tofu (atsu age), yuba (rather substantial soymilk "skin"), and instructions on how to make your own tofu from soymilk. Varietal tofus (especially fried tofu skins used for inarizushi and in miso soup) may be near-impossible to find in your local grocery, but you can always fall back on that most Japanese staple of summer, hiyayakko: buy the highest-grade tofu you can find, cut into cubes, garnish with grated daikon, wasabi, or fresh grated ginger, drizzle with soy sauce and serve!

The book is gorgeously illustrated, and the recipes are very clearly laid out and explained step-by-step. The ingredient and kitchen tool section is excellent as well, but again, you will most likely have to mail-order many of the specialty items like rice molds, miso strainers, etc. I've ordered from Korin.com; they have a wide selection of imported Japanese tableware and kitchen tools.

The biggest challenge that home cooks will face is finding authentic fresh Japanese ingredients like mitsuba and shiso (herbs), burdock root, and takenoko (baby bamboo shoots) and prepared ingredients like dried seaweed (most US stores only carry nori sheets for sushi, but there are many common varieties in Japan, like hijiki, kombu, and wakame), umeboshi (pickled plums), and seasonings (unfortunately, our Japanese market did stock konnyaku, my most loathed Japanese ingredient; imagine a squiggly, translucent, chewy block of tasteless speckled jello).

I'm lucky in that my city has not one, but several Japanese markets and a large network of Japanese, but it's still difficult (and extremely expensive) to buy these ingredients in the US (I miss my local Heiwado grocery store in Japan!). Unfortunately, these recipes call for very specific ingredients without American substitutions, so for some Kansha may end up as a beautiful coffee table book. It's a beautiful volume and fine companion to Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen, which includes Japanese fish, meat and egg dishes, and vegetarians, vegans, and Japanophiles should certainly add this to their collection. If you're looking specifically for Japanese Buddhist temple cuisine (which is vegan), The Enlightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan covers that niche in greater detail.
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vegan craving long forgotten food Feb. 9 2011
By L. M. Freeman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am a vegan who used to live in Japan for 3 years. I have been hopelessly searching to recreate some of the amazing food I experienced while living there. So far I had been severely disappointed. That is, until I bought this book. I want to thank the author for the amazing selection of recipes. The Heaven and Earth Tempura and the Kabocha Croquettes were incredible. Maybe even better than the ones from my beloved Kyushu. The instructions were so clear and exact, that the preparation and cooking in a Japanese style was surprising easy. Thank you again for allowing me to share these dearly missed dishes with my friends and family.
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent book by Elizabeth Andoh Oct. 19 2010
By Lilico - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I've been waiting for this book for a long time. There is no one like Andoh to explain authentic Japanese food to non-japanese. She is like the Julia Child of Japan. Her recipes are thorough, easy to read and use, and tell you a lot about Japanese culture and thought along the way. If you are a vegan or a vegetarian and like Japanese food, this is the book for you. There's nothing else like it. She knows how to coax the authentic flavors out of the ingredients, and put everything to good use. Even if you are not a vegetarian, this is an important book to learn more about japanese thought and culture and to add to your japanese repetoire. Beautifully photographed and written, i can't put it down.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ms. Andoh is an international treasure Oct. 20 2010
By Michael K - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A gorgeously produced and photographed book and a worthy companion to Washoku. Ms. Andoh's discussion of the Japanese kitchen, ingredients, cooking techniques, and "waste nothing" philosophy is lucid and inspiring. Even the most carnivorous Japanese food lover will find much here to add to their repertoire. The pickle section alone is worth the admission. I can't put this book down.

Ms. Andoh is an international treasure. One reviewer compared her to Julia Child, but I see Ms. Andoh more as another M.F.K. Fisher for her stunning prose and her approach to cooking and eating as a celebration of life. Check out her websites: [...] and [...]
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Treasure by Elizabeth Andoh Nov. 26 2010
By H. Kawakami - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am lucky enough to know Elizabeth and have been in her kitchen with her. Every dish she makes, every meal, is amazing in flavor, presentation, balance. Here is another chance to learn from her how to prepare delicious, nutritious Japanese cuisine suitable for our small planet -- the vegetarian and vegan traditions. Each recipe has been painstakingly researched and checked multiple times with an international crew of volunteers so that you can follow the recipe wherever you are and know that you will create something wonderful. This is a beautiful cookbook but it is more. Even with my many years of experience in Japan, I always learn something new from Elizabeth. And Elizabeth imparts her holistic philosophy of living and appreciating (kansha) through the descriptions and notes of this book. She is also passing down precious knowledge of generations of temple and kitchen cooks. This second volume, added to Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen (2005), is cause for celebration and appreciation of Elizabeth's dedication to introducing, interpreting, and preserving Japan's culinary traditions. A beautiful gift for yourself and loved ones during this season of gratitude and hospitality.
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