Avoiding Waste...Using Kitchen Scraps Creatively 


Mottainai, a uniquely Japanese word with Buddhist origins, entered daily, secular speech long ago. Most often heard when someone is being chided, the closest English language equivalent would be: What a waste! Mottainai can also describe non-culinary situations such as squandering time, energy, talent, or even money.

I prefer not to scold. Instead, I want to encourage and enable people to use food fully – thereby avoiding waste. Need a few hints or suggestions? Take a look at the workshop lessons posted to this site, and to my companion site, KANSHAcooking. Then join me in no-waste cooking.

Download the KANSHAcooking Contest entry form


Winners will be sent a pair of KANSHAcooking T-Shirts

Using food fully means re-thinking your kitchen habits, focusing special attention on what could be used, and what might be saved rather than discarded.

In the vegan kitchen consider salvaging scrubbed vegetable peels (daikon and potatoes are particularly versatile), outer leaves of cabbages, and tufted tops of root vegetables (think carrots, radishes, turnips). Try growing your own herbs such as shiso so that you can harvest not only the broad leaves (ooba), but the flowering stalks (ho-jiso), and bell-shaped seed pods (shiso no mi), too.

For those in a fish-meat-poultry inclusive kitchen, remember that trimmings and bones from various creatures can be used to make flavorful, nutritious stocks (for soup and sauces) and dumplings and sausages. Lesson Four on this site offers two classic recipes for fish dumpling soup. I am hoping they will inspire you to creative interpretation.



Yukari & Shinji SAKAMOTO (left)

The first set of winners, Tom & Gail Jolley (right)


Each COMPLEMENTS and ENHANCES the other.

Key elements of WASHOKU
(Japan's native culinary culture):
  • balance colors (red, green, yellow, white, black)
  • balance flavors (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, spicy)
  • balance methods (boil, sear, raw, fry, steam)
  • source foods from both land and sea
  • source local foods (seasonal, regional)

The key elements of KANSHA ("appreciation"):

  • using food fully, without waste
  • acknowledging the efforts and ingenuity of those who prepare nourishing food
  • sourcing food responsibly, respectfully
  • sourcing food that is safe to consume