Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food

25/05/2011

White miso dressing

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 14:55

This is a classic Japanese dressing for bamboo shoots that works incredibly well on asparagus. It’s very simple:

2 tbl sweet white miso
2 tsp brown rice vinegar
2 tsp sake
a good pinch of yuzu (optional)

Just mix it all together and it’s ready. It’s particularly good the after a night in the refrigerator as the flavours mix together and mellow beautifully. You can also mess with the proportions – using only half the vinegar and sake makes a very thick salad cream type dressing.

24/12/2010

Kenchinjiru: Shōjin winter vegetable stew.

Kenchinjiru is a traditional winter recipe originating in Zen temples, and there are many variations. The basic recipe adapts well to the sort of winter vegetables that are available in Scotland right now. It’s dead simple, and really warming. The amounts given makes a large bowl suitable for a meal for one. It’ll serve up to four as part of a larger meal. This is more of a formula than a recipe, and it can be made gluten-free by using a proper tamari instead of shōyu.

For the soup:
2 cups dashi
½ tsp frying oil
¼ tsp sesame oil
½ tsp shōyu
1 tsp sake

1 shiitake mushroom, both fresh and reconstituted dried ones are fine. If using dried, include the soaking water in the dashi.

2 large leaves spinach, a similar quantity of any green leafy vegetable, or a few green beans.

½ block (100g) tofu, cubed – either silken or “ordinary” will do

Vegetables: (choose three)
Peel (if needed) and slice them thinly. The first four are traditional:
Half a small carrot
5cm length of daikon from the thin end of the radish
1cm lotus root (quarter, then slice)
5cm burdock root
a quarter or a golden or striped beetroot (the traditional red one will colour the soup)
half a small parsnip
10cm length of salsify
a quarter of a small turnip, more if very small.
a similar amount of whatever root vegetable you happen to have.

Extras (choose one):
½ block konnyaku, any savoury variety, broken into lumps, boiled and drained.
1 sheet aburaage, rinsed and sliced thinly.

Heat the frying oil in a medium saucepan and add the vegetables, mushrooms and konnyaku (if using). Stir fry very briefly, then add the dashi, shōyu and sake. Bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are nearly cooked through. Add the spinach and tofu, and simmer until the tofu is warmed through and the spinach slightly wilted. Stir in the sesame oil and serve.

04/12/2010

Spinach with pine nut dressing

This is a variation on a traditional Japanese dish, using pine nuts instead of sesame seed. The dressing can be made with practically any kind of nut or seed, but I had some pine nuts to use up, and they worked really well.

A bag of spinach (200-250g)
30g pine nuts
1 tbl shōyu
1 tbl mirin

Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan, no oil, until mid-brown. Grind them as fine as you can and mix in the shōyu and mirin. Put to one side.

Thoroughly rinse the spinach and wilt by boiling it in as much water as sticks to it. Rinse in cold water, and gently squeeze out as much liquid as you can. You will probably have a sausage shaped lump of spinach at this point. Cut it into short lengths of about 2cm, and separate the pieces as you put them in a bowl. Mix in the dressing and leave for a while before serving at room temperature.

This recipe can be made gluten-free by using proper tamari instead of shōyu. You should use a high quality mirin, such as Clearspring’s Mikawa Mirin, for this dish – it’s worth it.

01/10/2010

Curry Udon

Filed under: Japanese, Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 12:35

Yesterday, the Japan Centre sent me a link to their Japanese Curry Udon recipe. It’s almost vegan. The main problem with it is the tsuyu. All the commercial bottled tsuyu contains fish, as far as I’m aware. Last night’s tea was based on this recipe, and this is my version of it.

For the curry:
2 cubes of hot Golden Curry roux
400ml water
1 onion, chopped in chunks
1 carrot, cut into chunky triangles
2 small potatoes, cubed
4 cherry tomatoes, or one ordinary one, chopped
a handful of dark tvp chunks
vegetable oil for frying

For the soup:
400ml konbu dashi, or 400ml water and half a sachet (4g) instant dashi powder.
2 tsp shoyu
2 tsp mirin (use a cheap one here)

2 bundles dried udon, or two packets of fresh udon

Put the tvp chunks to soak in plenty of warm water about 15 minutes before you need them, then drain well.

Put plenty of water into a large saucepan and start to bring it to the boil. Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan and fry the onions, carrots, potato, tomato and tvp chunks for a few minutes until the onions are however you like them. Add 400ml water, bring to the boil and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through.

By now, the water in the big pan should be boiling so add a dash of oil and the udon, and boil them until they are tender. Drain, put into cold water, then drain again.

Meanwhile, put the soup ingredients into a smaller saucepan and bring them to the boil. Simmer very briefly and remove from heat.

Back to the curry, when the vegetables are tender, add the cubes of roux one at a time and stir until they are completely dissolved. Add the soup and mix thoroughly.

Divide the noodles between two large bowls, then ladle the curry soup on top of them, and serve. It can be quite messy to eat.

Notes
You need to choose your curry sauce carefully – there are at least two varieties of Golden Curry, one of which contains beef and the other of which is vegan. The vegan one helpfully had the words “No meat contained” splashed prominently on the packet and seems to be made for the US market. Go for the hot variety, as Japanese curry is incredibly feeble compared to what we’re used to in the UK.

It would be much easier to make this by adding the soup ingredients to the vegetables right at the start, and that’s what I plan to do in future.

You can vary the curry ingredients according to what you have. The version given is a close interpretation of the classic Japanese curry. They have regular cubes of beef in theirs, and the TVP chunks are exactly right in this. Tofu, unless deep fried, doesn’t work too well, but gluten is good. I always add the tomato as it has a dramatic improvement without the flavour becoming too obvious.

22/05/2010

Spring Nimono

Filed under: Japanese, Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 12:28

Spring nimono

When I was checking out the Sankō-in website while writing up my visit there, I noticed a reference to a cookbook written by the current abbess Kōei Hoshino: 精進豆料理 (Vegetarian Bean Dishes). A shopping accident quickly followed, and the book arrived from Japan a few hours before a package from London containing something ordered on the same day. The recipes in the book are divided up into months, with others in chapters for each season. I noticed quite quickly that Hoshino is not as concerned with precise measures for each dish, or timings, or any of the other stuff that we are presumably supposed to know! What follows is, therefore, not a precise translation of a recipe from the book, but my attempts to recreate it with what information I was given.

IngredientsIngredients

2 sheets aburaage
3 small taro
1 large half boiled bamboo shoot
¼ tsp shōyu
2 tbl sake
sugar to taste
a small amount of water

You will also need a drop lid, or some foil.

As you can see from the photo, I chose to omit the sugar and replace the sake with a medium-quality mirin. You could easily use rice syrup or any other sweetener. The bamboo shoots are the sort described as “winter bamboo shoots”. You can get smaller ones than the one shown in Chinese supermarkets. They come sealed in plastic bags with saltwater. They tend to be smaller, so use two of these and adjust the cutting accordingly. There are several types of taro available in both Chinese supermarkets, and Indian/Pakistani grocers. The ones used in Japan are hairy, so I opted for the hairiest variety.

In Japan, the three main ingredients are at their peak in the spring, but this recipe could easily be used with all sorts of roots and tubers, including potatoes. I think small white turnips would be particularly nice.

Putting it together
How to cut the vegetablesPeel the taro and cut into bite-size cubes. Parboil the taro for around 5-10 minutes. Drain and then wash the pieces thoroughly. Cut bamboo shoot in half, then into quarters, vertically.

Remove oil from aburaage by holding it under a hot running tap then squeezing. Cut each piece lengthways into three strips and tie in simple knots, keeping the strips flat (click on the images to enlarge):

Tying the knot
Completed knots

Put the taro, bamboo shoots and aburaage knots in a medium-sized saucepan, with the knots on top. Add water to the pan to a level about halfway up the vegetables and bring to the boil very slowly. Spend this time wondering where your partner/cleaner/cats hid the drop lids, or fashioning one from foil. When the water boils, add the other ingredients, stir very gently to mix, and drop in your drop lid (or insert your piece of foil). The idea is to hold down the veg so they do not break up – if you have a set of saucepans, the lid from the size below the one you are using will do. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes until the taro is cooked through.

The meal in fullThis quantity will serve two as a main dish with rice, or up to six is used as part of a larger meal. I had it with asparagus and broccoli tempura, konnyaku in miso, brown rice and a clear soup with hana fu and green soya beans.

28/11/2009

Japanese tofu article

Filed under: Ingredients, Japanese, Reading matter — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 12:14

Kimiko Barber goes In search of traditional Japanese tofu in today’s Financial Times.

23/03/2009

Bukkake Soba

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 18:19
Bukkake soba

Bukkake soba

Yes, that really is the Japanese name for this dish, and I have no intention of calling it anything else. Even though the word bukkake is just a form of a verb meaning “to splash” or “to sprinkle”, its colloquial meaning is very appropriate for this dish.

Bukkake soba is essentially cold buckwheat noodles topped with a thick sauce and drizzled with tsuyu, a thin dipping-type one. The thick sauce is usually white, too. The version below is based on a recipe from a Japanese-language cookbook and is for a single portion.

1 bundle soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles)

for the thick sauce
approximately ½ cup very soft tofu, such as microwave tofu
50g yamatoimo (about 5cm or 2 inches)
a bowl of water with about 1tsp vinegar added

for the tsuyu
3 tbl water or konbu dashi
1 tbl soy sauce
1 tbl mirin

to garnish
1 small spring onion
a lump of wasabi to taste (optional)

Put the yamatoimo to soak in the bowl of water for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, slice the spring onions and make up the wasabi, if necessary.

When the noodles are ready, drain them and plunge into cold water. Drain again, thoroughly, and place in a large bowl.

Put the tsuyu ingredients into a small pan and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and set to one side.

Grated yamatoimo;

Grated yamatoimo


Peel the yamatoimo and grate finely—the finest Microplane is good for this job. It will come out as a sticky liquid. Don’t panic. Stir it into the tofu. It will be slimy. This is deliberate. Pour this mixture on top of the noodles.

Dribble the tsuyu into the bowl around the edges and garnish with spring onions and the wasabi. The wasabi can be mixed into the tsuyu.

Eat and enjoy the expression on your flatmates’ faces—this is one of those dishes that tastes much better than it looks! Then tell them what it’s called.

Notes
Yamatoimo is available from the Japan Centre in London, and in the massive See Woo supermarket in Glasgow. I used the King Soba brand of organic 100% soba this time round, and I’m afraid I was not impressed. They’re not chunky enough, and stick to one another far too easily.

Microwave tofu experiment FAIL WIN

Filed under: Experiments, Japanese — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 14:39

I need yosedoufu—a very soft tofu made in a bowl, usually as needed—to make bukkake soba (yes, that’s the real name of the dish), but it’s not the sort of thing you can get here. I was wandering around the web when I encountered (in context, I’m not going to use the phrase “came across”!) this Japanese recipe for making tofu in a microwave, which looked as if it was just what I needed and used ready-made soya milk as a basis.

The sort of soya milk you need

The sort of soya milk you need

I gathered together my ingredients and equipment. I chose Plamil Organic soya milk. It’s important that soya milk used for tofu contain nothing but soya and water, and the recipe suggests that it needs to be at least 10% soya beans. The Plamil milk is 14% soya. The only other similarly simple brand I could find was a Provamel variety that was only 8% soya beans. As well as that, I needed nigari, of which I had two types in stock – a liquid Japanese brand, and a more natural-looking mix of salty stuff and water from the wholefood shop over the road:

Two types of nigari

Two types of nigari

The recipe appeared to be using the Japanese liquid type, so I went with that. I used a microwave saucepan, as that was large enough to hold 500ml of soya milk. The instructions were to mix the soya milk and nigari while cold, then divide between single portion bowls and microwave for 4 mins 30s in a 500w oven. I kept it all in the pan, and set my 850w oven to 600w, then microwaved it for 3mins 30s.

It did not turn out as tofu. I let it stand, and it didn’t curdle at all. Eventually, when it was cooled, I added a second teaspoon of nigari and repeated the process. The nigari was out-of-date, but it’s a mineral, so I can’t see why there’d be a problem. When it had heated, I checked the temperature and it was over the 75°C needed for coagulation to work. Again, it was liquid, so I let it stand. I checked again when it had dropped below the coagulation temperatute and I did not have tofu. I did, though, get fresh yuba! Which I ate, there and then.

Fresh yuba.

Fresh yuba.

Next I plan to use the more natural nigari and see what happens. (Update: this worked. Now to make bukkake soba.)

06/03/2009

Vegan Dashi

Filed under: Ingredients, Japanese, Products — Tags: , , , , , — Feòrag @ 13:07

Dashi is Japanese for soup stock. It comes in all sorts. Hon dashi (本だし) is never vegan as it’s fish stock. Konbu (こんぶ – kelp) and shiitake dashi are more promising, but they usually contain bonito (also call katsuoboshi), a fish product.

Shimaya konbu dashi

Shimaya konbu dashi

There are at least two brands of Japanese instant konbu dashi which are vegan. The first is made by Shimaya (シマヤ), comes as mid-green sachets (long and thin) in a green plastic bag, and is labelled こんぶだしの素. I have also seen the same product in boxes. You might read that this product contains lactose—it used to, but doesn’t any more. If you want to check, go to the product page and search for 乳糖, which is Japanese for lactose. You’ll find it in the shiitake dashi (which used to be vegan—poo!), but not the konbu dashi at the top. The ingredients translate as: seasonings (amino acid etc), table salt, saccharides (dextrose, sugar), natural flavourings (kelp powder, kelp extract). You can get this from the Japan Centre, or any of the Japanese supermarkets in London.

Ajinomoto konbu dashi

Ajinomoto konbu dashi

The second is a similar product made by Ajinomoto, and is packaged almost identically, with eight long and thin, but light green, sachets per pack. When I first spotted it, I thought it was the Shimaya one with re-vamped packaging. The ingredients for this brand are salt, sugar, mannitol (E421), monosodium glutamate (E621), powdered kelp, kelp extract.

Two brands of dashi which are vegetarian, but not vegan.

Two brands of dashi which are vegetarian, but not vegan.

There are two more brands, which are vegetarian, but unfortunately aren’t vegan, though for one of them you’d never tell from the translated ingredients list. Riken Mutenka (“additive-free”) Konbu Dashi is also GM-free. The importer translates the ingredients as simply “tangle”. The actual list is: flavourings (kelp extract, powdered kelp), starch, lactose, yeast extract. The other is a Dutch macrobiotic brand, Manna, which also contains lactose (I thought macrobiotics discouraged the use of dairy?).

Wel-Pac dashi konbu

Wel-Pac dashi konbu

If you know you will need the dashi a few hours in advance, it’s simple but time-consuming to make your own. Good dashi konbu will be thick and not too wrinkled – I’ve had consistently good results with the Korean Wel-Pac brand, which is stocked by pretty much all Chinese supermarkets and is easy to obtain. To make a litre of stock, take a sheet and break it into three long pieces. Wipe the konbu with a damp cloth and place in a large pan with a litre of water. Put the lid on the pan and bring quickly to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until you have about ¾ of the original volume of liquid. If your pan lid does not have a hole in it to let steam out, place it ajar whilst simmering. Top up the water back to the original level, using cold water, and simmer for a further 20 minutes or so, then top up again and simmer for another 10 minutes.

By this point you will know if you had good quality konbu as it will have expanded and small blisters will appear on the surface. The more dashi you make, the longer it will take to cook. It will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, and you could consider making a highly concentrated version and freezing it—just use less water or more konbu.

Another trick for simmered dishes is to simply place a piece of dashi konbu at the bottom of the pan before you add the other ingredients and remove it after cooking. Don’t throw the used konbu away, though, as it is still good to eat.

05/03/2009

Ume soba update

Filed under: Japanese, Products — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 21:00

I got a response from the Japan Centre with respect to yesterday’s delivery. As I suspected, it was a genuine error—they were unaware that cochineal is made from insects, and were apologetic. They let me know that they will not only change the web page for that product, but are going to go through all their pink products just to make sure.

Anyone able to recommend a good (European) list of animal ingredients to which I can refer them?

04/03/2009

Annoyingly not vegan things

Filed under: Japanese, Products — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 11:44

I had a big box of stuff arrive from the Japan Centre this morning, including the painfully expensive rice and many things containing green tea. One item I got was ume soba—buckwheat noodles flavoured with plum, which the site mentions as being vegetarian. Unfortunately, they’re not, as that pretty pink colour comes from cochineal. I even checked the Japanese ingredient listing in case the importers had got the English language translation wrong (it happens), but コチニール is pretty clear.

Now, it’s hard enough for vegetarians and vegans to keep track of all those little ingredients which aren’t suitable, so I’m not going to have a go at them over the error. They do make more effort than other sites to point out the presence of fish, wheat, egg and all sorts of problematic ingredients. This post is really just to note that it’s there. I have made use of the contact form and politely let them know about it. It would be really helpful, not just for vegetarians and vegans, if they included full ingredients listings, too.

02/03/2009

Fried Aubergine in miso: a variation

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , — Feòrag @ 10:25

Soon Lee has been experimenting with a recipe I posted, and his version is somewhat lower in fat so it’s worth noting:

The other was … Fried aubergine in miso except that instead of frying, I BBQ’ed the eggplant: I made sure the BBQ was hot (lowish heat), then cooked large slices (so that they didn’t fall through the grill) of eggplant brushed with a mixture of sesame & canola oil. Once they were cooled, I cut them into more bite-sized pieces before finishing them off as per the recipe. Delicious.

Tastes better served with tofu, though 😉

19/02/2009

Japanese recipes so far

As a way of getting this kick-started, here are my Japanese vegan recipes which I’ve already posted to my LiveJournal and elsewhere.

There are plenty more of these, and the observant might have noticed references to a cookbook. Yes, I’m working on one.

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.