Arran Vista
Trees on Arran

In July the Glasgow Zen Group had their summer retreat down at Kilmory in the south of Arran. It was great to have a longer sustained period of Zazen meditation over a few days for the mind and body to settle down and drop off whilst tuning in to reality more… being Tenzo again, responsible for providing the meals, needed a lot of focus as well as hopefully some ‘magnanimous’ or ‘big’ mind as Uchiyama puts it, and everyone’s effort was much appreciated too. We ate more than our usual of genmai brown rice plus soya beans in many forms, as well as other simple Japanese dishes, nothing heavy to get in the way of zazen. Here are a couple of the recipes, the onigiri (riceballs) are always quite fun to make.

Genmai onigiri

Cook genmai in rice cooker (short grain brown rice, organic, or white japanese rice). 3 cups of rice will likely feed 4 to 6.
Lay out seperate plates with ingredients –
Coverings for outside of different onigiri – nori seaweed cut into rectangular strips, tororo konbu soft kelp shavings
Plate with salt and bowl water
Fillings – katsuobushi grated fish mixed with shoyu soy sauce, shio konbu salted kelp strips, tuna mayonnaise, or other ingredients like chopped umeboshi pickled plum

Pretty simple really. Lay out some of the warm/still a little hot rice, add some salt to clean hands with water, take some rice and squeeze ( gyu – gyu!) into a ball. Use your little finger to make a hole and put in a small amount of one of the fillings. You can’t fit in that much! Gyu again to seal the riceball and add nori or shredded kelp if you have it to stick to the warm exterior. That’s it. The salt is designed to help prevent the food going off. Another simple variation is mixing some of the rice with furikake ( small bits of tasty dried seaweed, egg, fish etc) so you can end up with an array of tasty surprises.

Renkon Tamago Konnyaku

(Lotus root – egg – yamcake) feed 4
Renkon 200g, frozen fine too, peel, slice 1cm and cut in half
Hard boil 4 eggs, shell
Konnyaku about 250g, wash and half longways, slice 5mm
Can of drained scallops, or crab 280g
Sauce: mix 3tbsp miso, 1tbsp sugar, sake 1tbsp, mirin 1tbsp
Put all in a pot with two thirds cup of water, simmer, add sauce, put lid on, simmer for 20mins.