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Zen cooking - SHOJIN RYORI

It's often a surprise to people that Zen is more than just a technique of meditation. Though Zen Buddhists are not strict about eating, in fact the only strictness is that if it has died for you to eat it, you are grateful for that life, if it has fallen in your bowl or plate or falls from it, you own all of it to the last grain.  Why? there is no true Zazen without humility, no true Compassion for others until you can take responsibility for yourself and your own needs and actions.  

The Shojin Ryoji way of cooking evolved in China and has been perfected in Japan and added to in the West, it is a diet and a way of eating that promotes community and awareness.  As we said Buddhists are not actually Vegitarians or Vegans, but the main point is grateful awareness, Shojin ryori however developed in Temples where resourses are small, and therefore is cooking with a limited number of rules and therefore Vegan food.  If you want to try it too, go ahead, usually it is eaten for breakfast and lunch, but dinner is left over's, so you can sneek fish and meat then! Just be thoughtful. 


Normally in a temple we plan for 4 people, but these recipes are for 2. Shojin ryori is about economy.

Tofu with Basil




1 block of firm tofu
Basil leaves (as appropriate)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. salt



  • Rinse and cut store-bought firm tofu into quarters.

  • Mix salt into the olive oil and allow the salt to dissolve.

  • Arrange the cut tofu on a serving bowl, garnish with basil leaves, then dress with the salted olive oil.

Mango Oyaku

100ml Rice (1/2 cup)
600ml Water (6 cups)
Pinch of salt
One mango (100g)



  • Wash the rice until the water is clear, changing the water several times.

  • Place the rice in a pot, add the water, and let it soak for 15 minutes.

  • Wash the mango well, peel it, and remove the pit. Cut the peel finely, or else grind it into a paste. Cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces.

  • Add the salt and the chopped mango peel to the rice. Heat it to boiling, then lower the heat and cook for about 25 minutes, then turn off the heat.

  • Add the mango pieces to the okayu, cover it, and let it steam for about 10 minutes

Tomato Tempura
20 cherry tomatoes

200 g. (7/8 cup) flour (all-purpose flour or formulated tempura flour)
160 cc. (5.5 oz. or a bit over ½ cup) water
1 tsp. salt
Oil (canola oil, olive oil, safflower oil, or other oil) for deep frying


  • Hull the tomatoes (but use the pith for something else won't you, thats the Shorin ryoji way), then use a toothpick to pierce the skin in 2 or 3 places.

  • Prepare the batter by adding water to the flour and mixing. Add salt.

  • Dip the tomatoes in the batter, then deep fry at 170º C (338º F) to 180º C (356º F) for about 30 seconds.

  • Place on a few layers of paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

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