Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food

24/12/2010

Savoury Strudel

I was attempting to make apple strudel last night and had five sheets of pastry left over. I was also hungry, so decided to experiment and make a mushroom strudel. Except I only had three mushrooms left, so had to add the potatoes.

5 sheets filo pastry, defrosted.
at least a cup vegetable ghee
Approximately a dozen small new potatoes
3 mushrooms
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic, or to taste
¼ cup ground almonds
2 tbl sesame seed
2 tbl olive oil
1 tbl flour
1 cup vegetable stock
Ground black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 180°C, maybe 200°C if not fan-assisted.

Slice the potatoes very thinly and parboil. Set to one side.

Slice the mushrooms and onion thinly. Crush or chop the garlic finely. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the mushrooms, onion and garlic for a few minutes. Add the ground almonds and the flour and fry for a minute or so more or until the flour darkens. Turn the heat down, and gradually add the stock, stirring all the time, until you get a thick creamy sauce. Bring to the boil – it should thicken slightly – then add the cooked potatoes and black pepper to taste and set to one side.

Melt the ghee in a small saucepan and leave on the lowest heat.

Place a clean tea towel on a flat surface. Put the first sheet of filo on top of this and brush it all over with the melted ghee. Place your next sheet of filo on top of this and repeat, until all the sheets of filo are used up. Sprinkle about 1½ tablespoons of sesame seed all over the top sheet. Allowing about 5cm (2″) at the end, and about half that at the edges, spread the filling in a rectangle at one narrow end of your pastry. It should cover about a third to a half of the surface area. Using the tea towel like a sushi mat, lift up the narrow end and gently roll the pastry into a large Swiss roll. Place onto a greased baking sheet with the “join” underneath.

Brush the top with more melted ghee and sprinkle over the remaining sesame seeds. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until it is nicely browned. Don’t forget to switch off the heat under the remaining ghee!

Notes
I used vegetable ghee for this, but you could use a baking margarine. The fat level is important to make this recipe work, so it needs to be a hard margarine such as Tomor Hard Block. I liked how this recipe turned out, but am thinking of experimenting with olive oil next time. To slightly reduce the fat content, the top could be brushed with soya milk instead of ghee.

Use a flavoursome stock. I used a Kosher parve beef-style consommé, sprinkled onto the sauce at the boil, and stirred in. I would also have used more mushrooms and fewer potatoes, but that’s what I had.

07/04/2010

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.

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.

09/12/2008

Kinugoshi no gomadare (Silken tofu in a sesame sauce)

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 13:36

Kinugoshi no gomadare (Silken tofu in a sesame sauce)This is a really simple recipe, that can be made to look incredibly posh.

Ingredients (four servings)
One cake firm silken tofu (e.g. Mori-nu)

sesame sauce:
8 tsp white sesame seed
4 tsp soya sauce
4 tsp sake
8 tsp mirin (use an expensive one, like Clearspring’s Mikawa Mirin)

topping:
2 tsp white sesame seed
A sprinkle of nori flakes, or perilla if you can get it.

Blend the sauce ingredients together and divide between four small bowls.

Cut the tofu as shown below and place one piece of tofu in each bowl.

cutting-tofu

Toast the other sesame seed in a heavy pan and put approximately ½tsp on top of each piece of tofu. Sprinkle the nori or perilla on top of this. Serve as one element of a Japanese meal.

Variations:
This dish is made chilled. It could be heated in a microwave before the toppings are added, but I haven’t tried this. Adding brown rice syrup to the sauce would turn it into a dessert.

11/02/2008

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.

27/01/2008

Black sesame smoothie

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 15:16

I had a large shopping accident at amazon.co.jp the other day, and one of the books I bought was 豆腐でおうちゃくダイエット (toufu de ouchaku daietto), which appears to translate as Lazy Diet with Tofu! It’s in the Orange Page シンパルマクロビオティック (Simple Macrobiotics) series, so I suppose it makes sense in a way. This recipe is from that book.

100g (3.5 oz.) tofu (it says “cotton”. I used firm silken)
2 tbl black sesame seeds
1 tbl rice syrup (I used maple syrup, which works surprisingly well in Japanese food)
2 tbl black sesame paste (see note)
½ cup water

Blend it all thoroughly and serve in a glass over ice. Sprinkle a few more black sesame seeds on for decoration.

Note: Japanese black sesame paste is unobtainium, at least in the UK. It’s not sweetened. You can make it by roasting a couple of tablespoons of black sesame, then grinding them. If there is not enough oil to make it into a paste, add a teaspoon or two of sesame oil. Chinese black sesame paste is available from Chinese supermarkets. This has been sweetened, so if you use it reduce the amount of syrup.

Update 15th April 2008: Arigato on Brewer Street in London sell black sesame paste in handy resealable pouches.

23/01/2008

Saute shiitake and parsnip

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 13:44

I’ve been bashing on at the cookbook in fits and starts, and today have added a couple more recipes. I’ve been experimenting with using parsnip to replace burdock, because the quality of burdock available here is awful. This recipe, based very loosely on a beef fried with burdock recipe, was particularly successful:

Saute shiitake and parsnip

1 small, ideally long and thin, parsnip
1 large shiitake mushroom
sesame oil
2 tsp mirin
2 tsp sake
2 tsp shōyu

Scrub parsnip. Cut off shavings, like sharpening a pencil with a knife (this is easier if you put the parsnip flat on your chopping board and, surprisingly, use a large knife). Alternatively cut into julienne strips.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or frying pan, add the parsnips and fry them while you cut the mushroom up into julienne strips. Add the mushroom to the pan and continue to fry for a minute or so. Add the mirin, sake and shōyu mixture and simmer until the parsnip is just tender – probably only another minute at most, depending on the size of the pieces.

Notes: This recipe is based on one that originally featured burdock. If you are able to get hold of a nice, fresh burdock root, this will need about a 20cm length and will take slightly longer to cook. Either fresh or dried shiitake can be used, as can any mushroom with a strong flavour.

28/09/2007

Cucumber cooked in miso

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 20:52

The recipe below is sort-of translated from 野菜ごはん (“Vegetable Meals”) by 月森紀子 (Noriko Tsukimori), published by Bunka last March. Ms. Tsukimori runs a macrobiotic restaurant in Tokyo, and her cookbook is entirely vegan.

4 cucumbers
1 red chili pepper
1 cup dashi

A
1 tbl brown rice miso
1 tbl white miso
2 tbl mirin
2 tsp shoyu
1 tbl sweetner

1 tbl sesame oil

Cut the cucumber into even bite-size pieces and place to one side.

Heat the sesame oil in a saucepan and add the chili pepper. When the aroma rises, take it out (if you must – I didn’t!). Add the dashi and cucumber to the pan. Mix the ingredients for A, and add to the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened.

If it didn’t thicken nicely, drain it!

Notes:
* Japanese cucumbers are very small. I used one Western one.
* There is recipe in the book for a konbu and shiitake dashi. I just used my faithful vegan instant konbu dashi. In future, when using western cucumber, I will halve the quantity of dashi.
* The recipe uses beet sugar for sweetening. I used brown rice syrup.
* My partner thinks this recipe turns cucumber into aubergine. It would work well with aubergine or courgette instead of cucumber. It should be quite nice cold, too.
* I’d also add half the miso at the end of cooking.
* A kanji meaning “strong” is used with the sesame oil. I take this to mean a nice, flavoursome one.

07/06/2007

Fried Asparagus and Braised Shiitake.

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 16:25

A Japanese lunchTwo Japanese style dishes which formed part of my lunch today. The recipes below each make an individual portion when served as part of a Japanese meal

Fried Asparagus
6 spears green asparagus
1 tablespoon sesame oil
¾ tsp sake
¾ tsp dashi

Cut the asparagus into 5cm (2″) lengths, discarding the tough ends. Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok, add the asparagus and stir-fry quickly. Drain off any excess oil. Add the sake and dashi to the pan. When the stock thickens, the dish is ready. Serve sprinkled with sesame seed.

Braised Shiitake
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
sesame oil for frying
1 tsp sake
1 tsp shōyu

Soak the mushrooms for 15-30 minutes, then cut off the stems. Reserve a few spoonsful of the soaking water and add the sake and soy sauce to it. Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok and place the mushroom caps in it, gills down. Fry for a minute or so, then flip over and fry the caps. Add the reserved soaking water. The dish is ready when it has boiled dry.

In the photo, this is shown served on top of grilled tofu, which was done in a grill pan as slices, then cut up into chopstick sized pieces.

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.

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