Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food

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.

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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.

22/05/2007

Black Beans and Hijiki

This recipe was adapted from one in Kyoko Honda’s Tofu and Soybean Cooking. The original used soya beans, and used more sweetener and seasonings.

1 can black beans
10g dried hijiki (about 1/3 cup)
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 sheet abura-age (fried tofu sheets)
1 small carrot
½ sachet dashi (vegan ones do exist, honest)
4 tbsp shoyu
2 tbsp brown rice syrup
2 tbsp sake
1½ tbsp sesame oil

Put the hijiki to soak in 1 cup warm water; soak the shiitake mushrooms in enough water to cover them. Put on some brown rice.

Rinse the abura-age in hot water to defrost and get rid of the oil. Pat dry in a tea towel and slice into julienne strips. Slice the carrot into julienne strips. Combine the shoyu, brown rice syrup and sake in bowl. Drain the tin of beans.

Go away and read teh internets for 10 minutes or so.

Drain the seaweed and mushrooms, retaining the soaking water. Cut the stalks off the shiitake and bung them in the stockpot (or the bin, depending). Slice the caps.

Heat up the oil in a wok or large saucepan. Add the carrots, mushrooms, hijiki and abura-age and stir fry for a couple of minutes (don’t skip this for health reasons – much of the good stuff in sea veg is oil-soluble). Add the beans, soaking water and dashi powder, bring to the boil. Add the combined shoyu etc – you might have to add a bit of the hot water from the pan to get all the syrup out, then allow to simmer until dry.

Serves 2 as a one bowl meal with rice. Serves lots and lots as a small dish presented as part of a Japanese style meal.

28/01/2007

Sprout tops and daikon soup

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 13:05

Our local wholefoods shop has started selling the tops of brussels sprouts as a vegetable in their own right. They recommend cooking it like spring cabbage (the dark green type of cabbage), and at 35p for a whole top (which includes a few sprouts hidden in there) it was worth a try. Today I was in a Japanese soup mood for lunch, and decided to experiment.

2 cups konbu dashi
5cm (2") piece of daikon
3 leaves from the brussels sprout top
approx ½ tsp finely grated ginger
1 tsp sake
¼ tsp soy sauce
nanami (shichimi) togarashi
a pinch of sesame seeds

Put the dashi on to boil, and while waiting, cut the daikon into fine julienne strips. Fall further in love with the very sharp Japanese knife your beloved recently bought you as a present. Add the daikon to the pot. Roll up the leaves and slice them so you get fine strips. Bung ’em in. Add the sake and soy sauce and simmer until the daikon is tender. Add the ginger. Pour into a bowl, and sprinkle nanami togarashi and sesame seeds on top. Serves one.

17/11/2006

Cabbage rolled in Abura-age

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 12:06

The veg box this week included an enormous cabbage, so I’m very interested in your cabbage recipes. Last night, I made a recipe from Japanese Vegetable Cooking by Asako Tohata, and I’ve added my notes to it:

4 large cabbage leaves (3 will be more than enough if your cabbage is the size of mine!)
2 sheets abura-age (deep fried tofu – obtainable in the freezer section of anywhere selling Japanese food)
40cm (16″) kanpyo (dried gourd strips) – (actually, twice as much is needed)
broth: ½ cup konbu dashi;
1-1/3 tbsp sake;
1-1/3 tbsp mirin (left out due to it hiding);
1-1/3 tbsp soy sauce; salt (omitted – there’s enough in the soy sauce!)

Put cabbage leaves in boiling water until tender, cut out stem portion of leaves and discard (put into soup or something).

Rinse abura-age in boiling water to get rid of excess oil. Slit around three sides opening the abura-age out into a single sheet. Rub kanpyo with salt until soft (not necessary; didn’t bother) and boil in water (just long enough to soften – a couple of minutes).

On a cutting board, place abura-age inside up and spread cabbage leaves on it. Roll together (so the abura-age is on the outside and the cabbage inside) and tie with kanpyo in two places (a quarter of the way along from each end).

Cook in broth slowly (about 15-20 mins, less if you like your cabbage crunchy). Cut into two (between the tied parts).

I served this with chestnut rice.

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