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.

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.

31/12/2008

My ozouni.

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 19:35

Ozouni is a traditional Japanese dish for New Year’s Day. It is generally had in the morning, after having toasted in the sunrise with sake, and is a significant cause of death for old people. There are as many recipes as people, plus a few more. Mine is vaguely Eastern Japan-ish, but vegan. Serves four-ish.

For dashi:
Piece of dashi konbu

For fake fish roll:
about a third of a block of konnyaku
a few drops of red food colouring (yes, there is vegan red food colouring out there)
very strong konbu dashi

The rest:
3 dried shiitake
about half a carrot
a block of firm tofu, cut into big triangular chunks
some greenery (not available this time)
1 tbl shouyu
1 tbl sake
one piece mochi per person
dried yuzu peel

Set the shiitake to soak. Slice the carrots and use a fancy cutter to make them an interesting shape. Bung the konbu and the bits of carrot you cut off into a pan with plenty of water, bring to the boil and simmer for half an hour or so. Drain, retaining the liquid.

Cut round or flower shapes out of the konnyaku. Put it in a small pan with enough strong dashi to cover (I cheated and used instant for this) and the food colouring. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, and don’t forget about it! Strain – no need to reserve the liquid.

Put the home-made dashi back into the big pan, and add the shiitake soaking water, the shouyu, the sake and more water if needed (you know how big your soup bowls are!). Bring back to the boil whilst thinly slicing the shiitake, discarding the stems. Add the shiitake and tofu to the dashi and simmer for 5 minutes, the add the carrots, the fake fish rolls and the greenery.

Continue simmering while you prepare the mochi.

The best place to get mochi is a health food store – I use the Mitoku brown rice ones which Real Foods sell, because I am a Bloody Hippie. Grill the mochi on both sides until they swell up then put one in each bowl. Ladle the soup over the mochi, making sure everyone gets a bit of everything. Sprinkle some yuzu peel over. Eat the mochi carefully – they’re sticky and choking on them is what kills people in Japan.

For a more Western Japanese style, add white miso.

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.

11/09/2008

Fried aubergine in miso

Filed under: Japanese — Tags: , , , , , — Feòrag @ 21:41

There I was, innocently doing a puzzle in Irasutorojikku (a Japanese puzzle monthly), when I noticed a recipe printed beneath. Closer investigation revealed that it was vegan, and I proceeded to impress my partner no end by translating the important bits there and then. Tonight I had a go at making it, and it was lovely. According to the blurb, it’s a Tokyo dish.

1 very large aubergine (originally three small, or two Japanese large)
A blend of sunflower and sesame oil, for frying the aubergine.

For the sauce:
2 tbl mirin
2 tbl water
1 tbl miso (type not specified – I used a dark, evil barley miso, which worked well)

To finish:
Soy sauce to taste
sugar to taste (I used rice syrup)

Cut the aubergine into (UK) chip shapes 5cm by 6mm square (about 2″ by ¼” – yes, it was that specific). Heat up the oils in a large frying pan, add the aubergine and fry until soft. Mix the sauce ingredients and add to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the soy sauce and sugar. And that’s it.

I served it with brown rice and grilled tofu. The omnivorous one ate it really quickly and urged me to post the recipe so that I have a record of it other than my pencilled notes in the puzzle book! One day, he will add up what he’s spent on Japanese lessons for me, and then he might be less impressed.

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.

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.

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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