Post by Ii Katsumori on May 12, 2014 20:51:11 GMT -5
Reposted from SCA-JML:
Warning: These videos show a whole fish being made (very ceremonially and with great pomp) into many parts. While there is very little blood, I figured I would put a trigger warning up for anyone who doesn't care for that sort of thing.
Shijo Ryu is a style of ceremonial filleting that goes back to at least 1489 when the book "Shijo Ryu Hou Chou Sho" was written, with claims of origins back to the 9th century. This was a part of presentation at feasts and festivals, and you often see the decorative fish in displays, but I hadn't seen it actually done before. This could, on the one hand, be a really cool means of presenting a feast. On the other hand it would require that people sit and wait for their food, so maybe not best for a bunch of hungry diners. If you are going to *serve* said fish, you want to make sure that it is sashimi-grade fish, and I would want to practice ahead of time, a *lot*.
Post by Saionji Shonagon on May 13, 2014 16:45:59 GMT -5
I will have to watch when I get home.
Eric Rath devotes a chapter to The Men of The Knife in his "Food and Fantasy In Early Modern Japan." These meat "subtleties" were created in front of the banquet guests, the final result was displayed for their admiration, and then whisked away never to be seen again - though Rath conjectures that the bits might find their way into a soup or other course.
IIRC, he also describes the presentation of dishes on feast trays that were there for symbolic reasons only and not to be eaten. Presumably the guests would be in the know that a particular arrangement of a certain food in a bowl or dish was ornamental only. I'll need to look when I get home as it's been a while since I read it.
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How did I miss this. I have the knives, the knife skills and some training, just need to learn the ritualistic movements.
There is a bit more to it than that. If you check out both iconographic evidence and the rite as performed in online video, you should notice that the fish (or fowl) is manipulated with very long metal chopsticks. The knife is also held in a manner rather different than commonly held in cooking. When performed ceremonially, the cutting board is divided into five named regions and the food items are decoratively placed in these regions. I had a diagram of the cutting board with its five regions in one of my more recent Japanese culinary "classes".
I suspect it would be great for a small party at Pennsic or such.
I agree! I am also trying to talk Kaminari into ritually going off to one of the battles with a formal sangon ceremony.
Is there more information in English?
There is very little information about this in English. It is pretty much a novelty in Japan, and there it really has no application to either the commercial kitchen or the home kitchen in the English speaking world. The carving ceremony is mentioned in passing in Confessions of Lady Nijo. I just noticed that Ii mentioned the Muromachi Period. The scene in Confessions of Lady Nijo pushes the ritual back to the Kamakura Period. As I recall, the Shijo family claims to have been appointed as hereditary imperial chefs back in the Heian Period.
Could it be done with a cooked fish? Maybe the fish fillet was then set on a brazer to flash cook?
If you are at all interested in being authentic, then the short answer is almost certainly no. We have iconographic evidence of formally dressed chefs in kitchens engaged in this sort of behavior with what are indisputably raw fish and fowl. Apparently, in the Muromachi period there was a bit of specialization with some chefs specializing in fish and others in fowl. You can see this in the famous picture scroll『酒飯論』Shuhanron. Apparently, the best copy of this allegorical picture scroll is at the French Museum. They have digitized the thing and you can see it online. Regardless, the ritual practice was and is to display artfully arrange fish parts in specified zones on the cutting board. If integrated into the meal itself, I would expect a live fish to be carved and immediately served. There is a culinary problem with this approach. First of all, Ryōri Monogatari and contemporary practice makes it clear that a bunch of species should be processed in manners that go beyond carving prior to consumption. Your approach appears, to me at least, to go against premodern culinary æsthetics. Yes, there are now some sit there and the chef will cook in front of you bars which can be quite trendy now, but restaurants as we know them only really got going in Japan during the Edo period. Apparently, it took sometime to even move the kitchen entirely within the building for at least higher class residences. We have iconographic evidence for the kamado being located in a detached shed even fairly late.
There is a bit more to it than that. If you check out both iconographic evidence and the rite as performed in online video, you should notice that the fish (or fowl) is manipulated with very long metal chopsticks. The knife is also held in a manner rather different than commonly held in cooking. When performed ceremonially, the cutting board is divided into five named regions and the food items are decoratively placed in these regions. I had a diagram of the cutting board with its five regions in one of my more recent Japanese culinary "classes"..
I have the long metal chopsticks, bought them about 20 some years ago. Like I said, I just need to learn the ritual aspects of the ceremony and make the cutting board, the site for the Shijo Ryu school: www.shijyoryu.com/ offers directions for making the cutting board.
Thank you for the information about the cutting board. This means that I do not have to search for its dimensions. I doubt that they have changed in centuries. The blurb on the Shijo main page appears to claim that "knife people" have diverged from cooks. I suspect that this is an adaptation by the Shijo family to changing times. Regardless, there was definitely a carving ceremony around in the Kamakura period. However, the implements used by the Shijo family were still being employed by line chefs in the Muromachi period.
Concerning the octopus. Octopus is always boiled prior to being consumed as sashimi. I suspect that how cooking changes the nature of fish flesh, that the ceremony would be rather difficult to perform with a truly cooked fish. I suggest a compromise if you can obtain a flash frozen more or less whole fish. Thaw the fish in advance and then perform the ritual on that fish. Make sure that the fish is properly gutted and scaled in advance. You may even do a quick dunk of the thing in boiling water off stage which is another step in preparing at least some premodern sashimi. Then you perform the ritual with this somewhat prepared, but not really cooked fish. The results should be quite acceptable as sashimi provided you can secure an appropriate fish. The fish could be stored, with some difficulty, with dry ice at Pennsic until the allotted time. Regardless, bill it as "premodern ritual sashimi carving".
Incidentally, the ritual appears to have been originally developed as a court thing in Heian-kyō. This suggests that it might be performed at the proposed Heiankyo 2020 event. This could happen even if it were not integrated into an actual meal. The fish could for, example, be presented to any of several gods or divine beings. I can imagine a lot of possibilities in general. Think of the possibility of a kind of garden where people are exhibiting different things which would have been similarly exhibited sometime before 1600. There could be a poetry group, a tea group, you could perform a carving ceremony, people might play Japanese football, if we can at all manage logistics, yabusama would be marvelous, &c.
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