New Cooking Class: Unlocking The Secrets of Japanese Vegetarian Cooking



When Fumiko Arao and I got together in March to cook a Japanese vegetarian feast for this blog, the thought arose that maybe we should teach a cooking class together.  I’m happy to announce that we’ve decided to do it! Entitled “Unlocking the Secrets of Japanese Vegetarian Cooking,” the class will happen on Saturday, June 25th, at 10 a.m. in the kitchen of First Baptist Church in Palo Alto, the same venue as our Monday Night Vegetarian Dinners. If you’ve admired Japanese food, but been afraid to attempt it at home, join us to see how user friendly this style of cooking can be. Japanese vegetarian cooking is based on shojin ryori, a thousand-year-old tradition which began in Zen Buddhist temples. As you can imagine, through generations of trial and error, a rigorous cuisine arose which is at the same time practical, well-balanced, artful and delicious. We will take you step-by-step through the preparation and serving of six dishes which encompass land and sea vegetables (both dried and fresh), soy products, and rice, an element fundamental to Japanese culture and cuisine. I’ll have more to say about the class in subsequent posts, but for now, you will find a detailed menu and information on how to enroll, after the jump.



Photos: Top, Fumiko Arao, co-teacher for the class, prepares chirashi-zushi. This great summer dish consists of sushi-style rice with seven or eight flavorful toppings. Above: the completed dish.


The menu: In addition to chirashi-zushi, we will make: 1.) tofu burgers with a rich ginger sauce, 2.) goma-dofu, creamy sesame paste thickened with healing kuzu, 3.) turnip amazake pickles, 4.) dried daikon with hiziki, and 5.) a surprise dessert (which we will announce once we’ve figured out what it will be!).

Email me to register:

Details: The class is scheduled for Saturday, June 25th, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the First Baptist Church, 305 North California Ave., Palo Alto, CA. Fee for the class, which includes lunch, is $50, and proceeds will benefit earthquake/tsunami relief in Japan.

The teachers: Fumiko Arao grew up in Tokyo and learned traditional Japanese cooking from her mother and grandmother. She is a student of the energetic and healing properties of food. The other teacher, Gary Alinder (that’s me), is the author of this blog. I’ve been a natural foods chef  for 30 years, and my cooking career began as an apprentice at Fukuen, a vegan macrobiotic restaurant in Osaka, Japan.

Among the foods to be featured in the cooking class: tofu burger (top left), goma dofu (top center), dried daikon with hiziki (lower left), chirashi zushi (center), turnip and carrot amazake pickle (lower right).


5 responses

  1. So sad to miss – living in Vermont doesn’t make it easy to run on over for the class; would you consider taping it for the blog? Or at least sharing recipes after the class? I’m sure other readers would be interested. Thanks!

    • Holly, Yes adding cooking class videos to the blog is something I’ve wanted to do since the beginning. I will see if we can’t video and post part of the class, and maybe someday you will be able to join us. Best, Gary

  2. I also would be glad to pay for a copy of the recipes and/or watch videos on the blog. It would be ideal to be with you in person, but it’s kind of expensive to fly out to the West Coast from Asheville, NC for just one day – not to mention complicated with all the plane changes.

    I appreciate your blog. Thanks so much.

  3. I wish that you would make a video of this (and other) classes for those of us who live far away – Kentucky (or those who just can’t make it). It would be such a help for those who struggle with ideas. There just can’t be enough info out there on the Web regarding macrobiotics!

    • Yes, cooking class videos are something we would like to do, but I just don’t think we’re quite there yet–we cooks are not always so tech savy! What we will so is send recipes for a minimal charge of $10, after the cooking class for those who live outside the SF Bay Area. Email me at if you are interested. Gary

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