Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food


Japan: Hotel breakfast buffets

Filed under: Eating out — Tags: , , , , , — Feòrag @ 01:24

I go to a lot of science fiction conventions, all over the world, and the breakfast buffet is something I universally avoid unless I’m really starving and need some beans on toast. All there is for me usually is cereal (if I’ve remembered some soya milk), the toast, beans, hash browns and maybe the mushrooms depending on how they’re cooked.

I am currently in a hotel in Ōmiya, a little north of Tokyo. I already know that the traditional japanese breakfast is miso soup, rice and pickles, plus some leftovers, and breakfast is included in the room rate so I thought I’d give it a go.

Today’s breakfast was: simmered silken tofu topped with ginger; various pickles including a bright blue plum of some sort; hijiki salad; herb konnyaku with mustard, some toasted nori (sprinkled on the second batch of tofu) and a bowl of multigrain rice. If I had brought my little bottle of shōyu with me, I’d have had nattō, too (suspect fish in the little sachets provided). To drink I had acerola juice and the coffee, which was naff, so I changed to hojicha (roasted green tea). I will be buying stocks of hojicha when I get home!

I will also be eating breakfast this weekend.



Japan: some additional vegan konbini goodies

As mentioned yesterday, Herwin Walravens’ Japan Vegan Restaurant Pocketguide contains a handy summary of the few vegan items available in Japanese convenience stores. There are a few others too.
Sesame tofu package
Gomadōfu (ごまどうふ) is one of the non-tofu “tofu”s. It’s sesame milk set with kūzu and is rather pleasant if you like sesame. There are a number of similar looking items, some of which are flavoured tofu – shiso (しそ – perilla) is a vegan one of these; others are the aforementioned jellies set with kūzu, including a black sesame version. One warning: if you see a package very similar to the one shown, but yellow, it’s a savoury egg custard thing. The kanji for egg is very distinctive and worth learning to recognise: .
vegan daikon and seaweed salad from Family Mart
The second discovery is a daikon and seaweed salad from Family Mart. I’m afraid I forgot to photograph it until I’d eaten half of it, but the photo is enough to get the picture. The container has a small amount of lettuce at the bottom, then loads of shredded daikon, topped with a variety of seaweeds. There is no salad dressing, so you might want to sprinkle on a bit of soy sauce or something. I have been through the ingredients list with the proverbial fine toothed comb and all it contains is the lettuce, daikon and various kinds of seaweed. They’ve neglected to sneak in any fish whatsoever. Let’s hope no English-reading person at Family Mart notices this post and gets the “error” corrected!

I’ve been eating a lot of inarizushi while I’ve been here. It’s one of my favourite foods, so I’m not at all upset about it. There are many variations, and I have yet to find one that isn’t vegan. You can get it with mushrooms, or sansai (山菜 – mountain vegetables, edamame and many other things. The only non-vegan version of which I am aware is a regional variation which uses thin omelette instead of the tofu pouches. I’ve never actually seen it anywhere.

There are several varieties of small sushi roll which are vegan: the classic cucumber (adding mayo to them seems to be an American trick), yellow pickled daikon, natto and one I’d not seen before – kanpyo dried gourd reconstituted. Note the sachets of soy sauce that come with convenience store and supermarket sushi aren’t – they’re a mixture of soy sauce and fish stock. Buy your own wee bottle of soy sauce.

I am here for three weeks and can’t eat out for every meal or I wouldn’t have money to spend on capsule toys, yaoi, robots and weird Hello Kitty items. I have a kettle in the room, and there is a microwave oven in the hotel, so I plan to expand my horizons a little. I have a nice small miso bowl from Muji and a larger plastic noodle bowl from a 100 yen shop. I brought some sachets of a vegan instant dashi (enough to tide me over till I find a shop that sells it) and a small bottle of soy sauce with me. I have already bought a small bag of sweet white miso, a package containing mixed seaweed and wheat gluten coils, some fried tofu and some vegan instant ramen bought from a macrobiotic shop. The supermarket near Akihabara station sells fresh soba (buckwheat) noodles, so I can easily put together a hot meal in my (pokey) room on the cheap. I’ll try and remember to blog my efforts.


Nut Rissoles with savoury rice

Filed under: Historic — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 16:57

Last night I made a couple of dishes from Rupert H. Wheldon’s No Animal Food. First published around 1910, this was the first book to advocate veganism and it contains 100 recipes at the back. The ones I tried last night were:

12.–Nut Rissoles
3 ozs. mixed grated nuts, 3 ozs. breadcrumbs, 1 oz. nut butter, 1 chopped onion, 1 large cupful canned tomatoes.
Mix ingredients together; mould into rissoles, dust with flour and fry in ‘Nutter.’ Serve with gravy.

28.–Plain Savoury Rice
4 ozs. unpolished rice, 1 lb. tin tomatoes.
Boil together until rice is cooked. If double boiler be used no water need be added, and thus the rice will be dry and not pultaceous.

My versions:

Nut Rissoles
1 cup mixed nuts, chopped in food processor
breadcrumbs made from 1 slice wholemeal bread
2 tbsp vegan margarine
1 chopped onion
1 can tomatoes, blended.

Mix the nuts, breadcrumbs and onions together in a large bowl. Melt the margarine and add it. Use your hands to mix it all together and add just enough tomato to bind it. Make into four burgers. Dust with flour and fry slowly – they’ll burn if you’re not careful.

Plain Savoury Rice
1 cup long-grain brown rice
the remains of the tomatoes from the nut rissoles
enough water to make 2 cups liquid

Bung all of the above into your favourite rice pan. Bring to the boil and simmer, with the lid on tightly, until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove the lid, stir quickly with a fork, then replace the lid and let it sit, off the heat, for a couple of minutes or until you need it. Alternatively, put the ingredients in your rice cooker, and cook according to the instructions.

I served all of the above with my mushroom gravy, and can recommend both recipes. The rice, especially, was delicious, even though it’s so simple.

I’ve visited the Nut Rissoles before.


Nutmeat and rice hash

Filed under: Experiments, Historic — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 20:12

Having made the 1911 nutmeats, I now have to find something to do with them! Fortunately, the same book I used has a good number of recipes. Because I had the ingredients to hand, I opted for the Trumese and Rice Hash, the instructions for which read Use boiled or steamed rice in place of potato in the preceding recipe. So, making that substitution, here’s the original recipe:

Put trumese and double the quantity of cold [cooked rice] … through food cutter, using the next coarsest cutter…. Mix carefully. Simmer without browning, chopped onion in oil. Add the mixed trumese and [rice], pour consommé or nicely seasoned gravy over and set in the oven to heat, and brown over the top….

The onion may be mixed with the trumese and potato, all put into a baking dish, nut butter stirred with a cream with consommé poured over and the hash baked for ¾-1 hour. Finely sliced celery, celery salt, or any of the sweet herbs, powdered, may be substituted for the onion. sage may be used occasionally with the onion.

Well, first impression is that that would be pretty bland, so I added one or two things to the consommé. There’s also the problem of nut butter, as it could mean one of two things in this period — either peanut butter as we understand it, or a solid vegetable fat made from nut oils. The former made more sense to me. Here’s what I did:

2 cups cooked brown rice, defrosted if necessary.
1 can trumese, cut into fine dice.
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbl peanut butter
1 tsp vegetable stock powder, or to taste
1 tomato
a small amount of water
vegetable oil for frying

Preheat the oven to about 160°C. Chop the onion finely and fry gently in the oil until opaque, then add the garlic, trumese and rice. I also had the end of a carrot, so I chopped that and added it too. Give it a good stir and let it heat through. Blend together the peanut butter, water, tomato and vegetable stock until you get a medium creamy sauce. Mix it all together, transfer to a large shallow baking tin and stick it in the oven for about 40 minutes. This is what came out:

Trumese and rice hash, fresh out of the oven

Trumese and rice hash, fresh out of the oven

If you like crispy bits on your rice, you’ll adore this, as it’s the aforementioned crispy bits surrounding a moist centre. But it was still bland even though I’d added the tomato and used brown rice. Whilst I won’t make this exact recipe the same way again, I can see a lot of promise for the basic dish — it’s not difficult to use herbs and spices, or a more strongly-flavoured stock. It would work with tofu (go for the smoked or hazel nut varieties), or any of the commercial fake meats out there, and leftovers could be added to it as well. Using cooking rings on a baking tray would give a more refined presentation.

This amount would serve four with plenty of vegetables and maybe a sauce.


Review: Sanyo ECJ-FS50 Rice cooker

Filed under: Gadgets — Tags: , , — Feòrag @ 12:53
The Sanyo ECJ-FS50 multi-function cooker.

The Sanyo ECJ-FS50 multi-function cooker.

I have been resisting buying a rice cooker for a long time. After all, I have the Perfect Rice Pan and know how to cook rice. What’s more, my friend’s rice cooker produces tasteless, dry white rice and doesn’t do brown rice at all, so why would I want one?

When I was in Japan, I noticed that the rice cookers on sale there were somewhat more advanced than the ones I saw in the shops here. They had computer control, and settings for different types of rice, including brown rice. But nothing like that had ever reached the UK, most of the ones here being simple models, and there was no point bringing one home, because Japanese electricity runs at 100v, rather than 230v. I spotted this Sanyo cooker in the enormous Chinese supermarket in Glasgow. It was much more expensive than most rice cookers, but it explicitly claimed to have a brown rice mode, and was also a slow cooker—another gadget I’d been craving. It seemed to be a halfway house between the more usual British rice cooker, and the more interesting Japanese models—possibly the most simple of Japanese types. My partner is worse than I am when it comes to gadgets, so we bought one, and it sat in the cupboard for a few months whilst I continued to use the Perfect Rice Pan.

Inside the rice cooker

Inside the rice cooker

Last night, I decided to give it a go and see what it did to the Italian short-grain brown rice I use as my standard “Japanese” rice. It’s quite a small rice cooker, but it can cook up to eight portions of brown rice (or ten portions of the tasteless stuff), and its really simple to use—you use the measure supplied to add the rice (one measure=two portions), then top up with water to the appropriate line. The inside of the pan is clearly marked—if you put one measure of brown rice into the cooker, you add water up to the “1” line on the scale labelled “Brown”. You then put the lid down, make sure that the “keep warm” light isn’t on, press the “menu” button until an arrow points to the word “Brown” and then hit the “Cook” button.

And then you wait.

It takes much longer to cook rice—an hour and a quarter as opposed to 40 minutes or so. You get a countdown for the last 13 minutes, which is helpful if you are busy cooking the accompaniments, and it automatically switches to “keep warm” mode when it’s done. The completion of the rice is announced with a ding which might be audible if you live in a Zen temple, as long as you are not too close to any running water.

The rice itself came out as perfect Japanese-style brown rice—better than I do with the pan. It sticks together in just the right way. I haven’t tried it with other rices yet, but this setting should be good for Thai-style brown jasmine rice. I suspect I’ll stick with the Perfect Rice Pan for basmati and other long-grain rices, but for Japanese rice, the cooker wins.

There are many interesting settings to investigate, including one for sprouted brown rice—a product I’ve only just learned about, and plan to order from the Japan Centre soon so I can play with it. There’s a timer, where you set the time you’d like your rice to be ready, and there are steamer and slow cooker functions which look straightforward. I think we can ignore the cooked yoghurt mode!

My main criticism so far is that the supplied power cord is much too short, but it’s a standard kettle cable with a 13 amp fuse, so it’s not hard to replace. In the end, I had the cooker on the IKEA stool close to an otherwise unused outlet, and that kept it out of the way and off the work surfaces. The manual is clear, with amusing Japanese illustrations and very few lapses into Engrish.
I can work around the long cooking times. It is rather expensive, though.

Sanyo’s product page for the ECJ-FS50.
Japan Centre product page. I got it for less than that at the Chinese supermarket, though, and Amazon is even more expensive.


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.


Goth rice, Lotus Balls in An Sauce, Tofu steak

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 21:33

My partner expressed satisfaction with tonight’s meal, so here are the recipes, all of which are likely to end up in the cookbook.

Goth Rice

1 cup short grain brown rice
1 tbl black sesame seed
2 cups water

Add all to a small saucepan with a tight fitting lid, bring to the boil and simmer gently (with the lid on) until the water is absorbed – about 40 minutes. It will come out black. Needless to say, “goth rice” is not the Japanese name for this fairly traditional combination, but it ought to be.

Lotus Root Balls in An Sauce

About a 10cm length/200g fresh lotus root.
1 small-medium onion
1 tbl wholemeal flour
1 tsp oil for frying onion
Oil for deep frying

2 tbl kuzu
1½ cups water
2 tbl soy sauce
A big knob of ginger

Chop the onion finely and fry gently in the oil until just brown. Meanwhile, grate the lotus root really finely. Add to the pan of onion. It will be a sticky mess – do not worry. Cook briefly then remove the mixture to the bowl and allow to cool for long enough to handle. Knead the flour into the mixture to make a sticky dough. Remember to put the deep fryer on – a fairly low-medium heat is best. Divide the dough into four pieces, then four again, and make 16 small balls. Bung them in the hot oil and slowly fry them until they are a deep golden brown. This is a good moment to wash your hands and make the sauce.

Grind the kuzu finely and mix to a paste with a small amount of water. Put the rest of the water in a pan to heat up and add the soy sauce and kuzu paste. Stir lots. If it looks like it’s turning into lumps, get out a hand blender and use that to really stir it! It will thicken rather impressively. Chop the ginger finely, or grate it, and add to the sauce. Turn the heat off and transfer the balls to the sauce while you finish whatever else you are cooking. Remember to turn the frying pan off, unlike me.

Tofu Steak

A great big lump of tofu.
Sunflower oil.

Cut the tofu into two large “steaks” whichever way looks best to you. Make them 2-3 cm thick. Place them in a shallow frying pan with the hot oil and fry each side at a medium heat until golden. It will turn golden part-way up the sides, too, making it easier to tell when you need to turn it over. It will probably weld to the pan, so use a metal spatula or something when you are ready to flip over or serve, as it will come off without damage to the tofu if you are careful. The tofu should be crispy on the outside, and soft in the middle.


Rice Pilaf Salad

Filed under: Recipes and techniques — Tags: , , , , , — Feòrag @ 19:09

It’s disgustingly hot here in Scotland at the moment, and my mind has turned to salad. I came up with the following, based on this dead animal recipe and adapted to the ingredients I had, and the fact that I don’t like celery!

1 cup brown basmati rice
1 tin of chinese ‘mock duck’ or similar wheat gluten product
1 tin chick peas
1 tin red kidney beans
2 (Granny Smith) apples
1 100g tub of olives in oily dressing stuff (basil, garlic and chili in this case)
1 green pepper
1 spring onion

Put the rice on to cook as normal.

Drain the gluten and dice. Put it in your big salad bowl.

Open the tins of beans and put them in a sieve to drain.

Quarter the olives and put them in the bowl. You can chop them smaller if you have more patience than me. Bung the oil in too. You’ll probably have to wash your hands at this point.

Chop up the pepper and throw it in. Core and chop the apples, and add them to the mixture. Ditto the spring onion.

Add the beans and mix it all up.

When the rice is done, add it to the bowl, mix it all up again, allow to cool and chill. If necessary, add a tiny bit of salad dressing just before serving.

Alas, I made too much rice (the recipe above gives the right quantity) and will have to leave the salad till tomorrow while I work out what to with the leftover rice. I have been nibbling, though.


World’s Best Inarizushi

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , — Feòrag @ 15:53

a dozen pieces of inarizushiTo celebrate the arrival of my very own hangiri, I made a batch of inarizushi, My recipe is based on that in Soei Yoneda’s Zen Vegetarian Cooking, but uses brown rice and much less sugar (and ready-made pouches).

1.5 cups short grain brown rice
3 cups water

3 tbsps brown rice vinegar
1 tbsp mirin

2 tbsps black sesame seeds.
A pinch or two of Yuzu – grated citron peel.

1 fan!

1 tin pre-made inarizushi no moto

Cook the rice in the water and leave with the lid on and the heat off for a bit. Blend the vinegar and mirin. Tip the rice into a hangiri. Any large bowl will do really, but it’s not as pretty. Add a small amount of the vinegar mix and stir in well with a flat paddle, while fanning the rice frantically, until it is absorbed. Repeat until the vinegar mix is all used up. Add the sesame seeds and yuzu and stir in well. Spread the rice over the surface of your mixing bowl, cover and leave for a bit for the flavours to mingle.

Open your tin and drain. Save the sauce and add it to a noodle soup or something. Take a pouch and open it up gently. Fill it about halfway up with the rice, fold over the remaining pouch and put it on a plate fold downwards. Repeat with the other 14 pouches. Try not to eat them all as you go along. Make rice balls out of any leftover rice.

Notes: I use a metric cup which holds 250ml (as opposed to about 225ml). This recipe makes too much rice anyway, so just use what you have. A UK tablespoon is 15ml as opposed to 10ml in the US. Inarizushi na moto is available at any Japanese grocery or Asian grocery with a Japanese section. It is also available in vacuum packs. The yuzu you get in little yellow-topped glass jars contains lactose (Update: not any more, it doesn’t!). You can get it in small packets with a citron pictured on the front, and this brand is just the yuzu. If you can’t get it, experiment with finely grated peel of other citrus fruits.

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