My tea, last night


On the tray, from top, clockwise:

Brown rice with peas, ginger and a bit of yuzu.
Bamboo shoots with konbu.
Beancurd rolls with vegetables (bought in)
Soup with zenri fu (the wheel of wheat gluten) and wild garlic.
Grilled shiitake and miso pickle.

All accompanied with a bowl of strong green tea.

Lunch today will be the leftover rice stir-fried withe the left over rest of it!

Azuki bean, carrot and ginger miso soup.

Azuki bean, carrot and ginger miso soup

I had half a tin of azuki beans to eat up, so this is what I had for lunch:

2 cups konbu dashi
½ tin azuki beans
1 small-medium carrot, finely diced
a good knob of ginger, peeled and minced
2 brown rice mochi (I used ones with millet, but any will do)
approx 1 tbl sweet white miso

Bring the dashi to the boil and add the carrots, ginger and azuki beans. Simmer until the carrots are cooked through. While simmering, toast the mochi under a hot grill until they are puffed up on both sides. Cut each piece into quarters.

Put the miso in the serving bowl and mix in a little of the stock to make a thin paste, before adding the soup to the bowl. Stir well and then add the toasted mochi.

The teacup contains genmai cha.

Miso soup with noodles.

Miso Soup with noodles

Lunch today was based very, very loosely on a recipe in a Japanese book 典座和尚の精進料理―家庭で楽しむ110レシピ - A Tenzo Monk's Vegetarian Cookery - 110 recipes to enjoy at home, by Shoshi Takanashi (A Tenzo is a monk in charge of food).

The original used a type of flat, wheat noodle, and mange tout where I've used spinach. The recipe is very amenable to gluten-free preparation, as long as you use 100% soba noodles, and tamari instead of shoyu. Also check the miso carefully.

Per lunch-sized bowl of soup, you need:

about 1/3 pack soba noodles.
julienned root vegetables, about a large carrot's worth (I used carrot and burdock. The original had daikon, too, but I'm out of that).
3 shiitake mushrooms
a handful of small spinach leaves
half a block of tofu, cut into six pieces and fried.

1 cup shiitake dashi (if you use dried shiitake, soak them first in 1 cup water and use the soaking water as stock)
2 tbl sake
1 tbl + 1 tsp mirin
1/2 tsp shoyu

1 tsp hatcho miso (the really dark evil one)
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Cook the soba according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and put in a bowl. Put the fried tofu on top.

Put the dashi, sake, mirin and soya sauce into a smaller pan, bring it to the boil and add the vegetables (except the spinach). Cook until done. Take out some of the liquid and blend it with the miso to make a paste. Add the spinach to the pan and let it wilt. Take the pan off the heat, then add the miso paste and the sesame oil and stir well. Pour the soup over the noodles and tofu. Eat!

Azuki Bean and Pumpkin Soup

Tonight's tea was made up as I went along, but resulted in a recipe that is likely to be included in the "Japanese-inspired" section of my cookbook, when I get round to it. It's a recipe inspired by a shortage of ingredients, using what I happened to have.

1 litre (4 cups) water
3 dried shiitake
1/2 sachet vegan konbu dashi
1/4 small pumpkin (15-20cm diameter)
1 can cooked azuki beans, drained and rinsed
1 cube Japanese curry roux
3 brown rice mochi
a sprinkle of yuzu

Put the grill on to pre-heat. Use the highest setting.

Put the shiitake in the water in a medium pan and bring to the boil. Simmer until the mushrooms have reconstituted.

While this is simmering, peel, de-seed and slice your pumpkin. Place the slices on a grill pan, spray (or brush very lightly) with oil and place under the grill. When it's nice and speckled with brown, flip the slices over, spray again and do the other side. When cooked, chop the slices into bite-size pieces and put to one side. Grill the mochi. The first side will go brown; the second will puff up dramatically.

Remove the shiitake from the water. Do not discard the water! Add the dashi powder and bring back to the boil. De-stem and slice the shiitake and place back in the pan with the stock. Add the curry roux and stir until it has dissolved.

Add the pumpkin and beans, and bring to the boil. Simmer until the mochi are done.

Cut each piece of mochi into 8 pieces.

Divide the soup between the number of bowls, and then add the mochi on top. Sprinkle with yuzu. Serve.

This made 1 big bowl and one small one (autopope not being very hungry, and me being starvacious). It should make two regular bowls or four small ones.

Tonight's dinner


This was made pretty much from leftovers and things that were close to going off. On the blue plate, top to bottom, are vinegared daikon (which needed eating up as it had gone bendy) with wakame, grilled tofu (the end of a block) topped with bamboo shoots (which himself had accidentally frozen) in white miso, and brown rice sushi rolls with simmered aburaage. The brown rice was some leftover sushi rice which I froze; the aburaage was getting on a bit, as is the nori, so it needed to be eaten. Top right is a clear soup made with the pot liquor from the aburaage, the soaking water from the wakame and some hana fu. Bottom right is genmaicha (Japanese green tea with roasted brown rice).

It came out surprisingly well, considering, and I'm quite pleased with it.

FAIL, but delicious

I'm trying to work out a vegan version of Scotch Pancakes (ObUS: pancakes), both as a breakfast staple, and because with sweet red bean paste, it's a popular Japanese dessert and the cookbook could do with such a recipe.

This version isn't quite there, but it's really rather delicious. I think what it needs is soya/almond milk instead of water, and maybe to make the flour half white, half wholemeal. That and a smidgen more water. My cup is a 250ml one.

1 cup wholemeal flour
1/4 cup gram flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbl sunflower oil
2 tbl sugar (might switch this to rice syrup)
1 cup water

Blend all the ingredients thoroughly. Heat up a large, well-oiled, non-stick frying pan. Once nice and hot, place 1/4 cupfuls of batter in the pan and swirl around a little. Cook for a few minutes each side. Serve drowned in maple syrup lest anyone doubt your Canadian ancestry.

Being me, it was of course organic maple syrup made by a co-operative in Quebec.

Additions to the vegan food blog

I've added two shiny new posts to Nac Mac Vegan today, both recipes, but very different from one another.

Last night, I made an experiment which was tasty, so the first post is me writing it up before I forget what I did: Savoury Strudel. With more mushrooms and some wine in the sauce, this would make a nice festive centrepiece.

The other post is a recipe, or rather a formula, for Kenchinjiru: Shōjin winter vegetable stew. This is a traditional winter dish from Zen temples, and it's really good in the current weather. It's a very adaptable and straightforward dish, which can be made with whatever root vegetables you happen to have. It will be going into the cookbook (yes, I am still working on it, but it's slow going).

I dunnit

I made bukkake soba and posted the recipe on teh interwebs.

In other news, the cookbook passed 15,000 words today. Stop laughing, autopope.

Update: I thought I was bad at reverse parking


I have found an method for making tofu in a microwave. Looks interesting, and should come out like yosedoufu, which I need as an ingredient for bukkake soba. I am now letting it stand to see if it sets. I'm tempted to get out the brewing thermometer and see what temperature it's at, as "too damn hot" springs to mind.


My ozouni.

mythbusters, beans
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.


On the cookbook

mythbusters, beans
The cookbook project will be a year old at the end of the month. The plan is to write a vegan Japanese cookbook, with lots of information about ingredients, and Japanese veggie cuisine in general, and to publish it via Lulu, home of Atlanta Nights.

My thinking is that the subject matter is very much the sort of minority interest that is best served by that kind of POD self-publishing. Plus I get to do the design and layout -- something I enjoy, and at which I'm much better than writing!

autopope and others are of the opinion that I ought to seek out a proper publisher. It seems like a lot of hassle to me, requiring me to ditch the stuff I enjoy and replace it with stuff I hate. It would necessitate being able to sell myself, which I definitely can't do, and mean having to deal with Word, which publishers like, even though their layout people will be cursing every bone in their body over it[*]. Plus I can't see such publishers going for a book like this. As I said, minority interest.

cairmen suggested that a food blog about my experiments would be a good idea, and I'm tempted by that one. We have a Movable Type installation, and adding extra blogs to it is trivial. I'd need to think of a witty title, but I wouldn't have to limit it to the Japanese stuff. I have plans for another book project which would be of recipes taken from old veggie cookbooks made vegan and adapted to the modern kitchen. The experiments for that would definitely make a good blog. See Mrs. Bowdich's Curried Beetroot and Cucumber, Some old-fashioned nutmeats and Bryngoleu Stewed Nuttose for examples of the sort of thing I mean.

Such a blog would also act as good publicity for the books, however I decided to publish them.

This post is me comment whoring - I would like further input on the matter. And suggestions for witty blog titles, though "Adventures in Rabbit Food" appears not to be in use.

[*] Word files do not import reliably into either InDesign or Quark Xpress. Files from the same version of Word will import with different bugs. The most common problem is for all the italics to magically disappear, and there is no pattern as to which versions of Word, or what settings, will cause this to happen. Many of the problems persist with RTF files generated by Word.



I just posted my lunch to vegancooking: Silken tofu in a sesame sauce. It's going in the cookbook for sure. Must get on with the bukkakesoba experiments.



On Sunday, autopope and I wandered into Harrods, and discovered they were having a 20% off everything sale. Cool. This means that the Japanese knives were merely expensive, rather than eye-watering. So the latest addition to my collection is a sashimi knife -- a long, slender, flexible blade which is useful for slicing anything really thinly, not just fish. It is an object of beauty:

Sharpness 1

More knife pr0n...Collapse )


The Daily Fail

Okay, I confess - when faced with a lot of Japanese that I'd like to get the gist of quickly, I just use Google Translate. Today, sent me mail concerning an interesting-looking new book on tofu, and it came with a very long description which demonstrated the problems you might have when a word which also has innocent meanings has been imported into English with only the more interesting definition still attached:

Chapter 6 is described thusly:

●第6章 ご飯と麺
ご飯: 豆腐そぼろの二色丼 全12品
麺: 寄せ豆腐と大和いものぶっかけそば 全2品

And translated like so:

● rice and noodles Chapter 6.
Rice: two-color bowls of tofu, all 12 products SOBORO
Noodles: Daiwa their tofu and potato products in the total near Bukkake

Which, even though the Japanese does clearly include the word ぶっかけ, I'm not quite sure that that's exactly what it means in English.Indeed, may I humbly suggest that they are offering recipes for two different dishes involving stuff poured over soba noodles?[*] (akibare, dagbrown etc. - feel free to correct.

I will probably buy the book - it's heavy on technique - seeing as yesterday they mentioned a new cookbook by Noriko Tsukimori, and I am running out of puzzles in my puzzle books.

[*] Update A bit more research and I have discovered that "bukkake soba" is indeed the Japanese name for soba noodles with sauce poured over. You can guarantee that my cookbook will not refer to this sort of dish as "buckwheat noodles with sauce" but will in fact call them "bukkake soba".

Cookbook latest

I'm still working on it and, suitably westernised, the subject of my latest post to vegancooking is definitely going in it: Fried aubergine in miso. I heartily recommend this dish to you all, except those of you on a low-fat diet (try grilling the aubergine instead). It's immensely delicious and outrageously simple.


More experimenting with Japanese recipes:


Clockwise from top left:
Miso Onigiri - balls of left-over rice with white miso rubbed in.
Aubergine-shiso pickle (bought in).
Shop bought vegetable beancurd rolls on a bed of home-made mizuna pickle (first use of the pickle box dagbrown sent).
Spinach-sesame rolls (I'm experimenting with this recipe for the cookbook - basically you take leaf spinach and wilt it in a mixture of the water that sticks to it, soy sauce and sake, then roll it up with sesame seed)
Carrot salad (carrots, sesame seed, apricot and dried apple dressed with sesame oil and rice vinegar)
Simmered sweet potato and shredded konbu.

Now to digest it all and get to the gym.


Locally-sourced food

The shiitake block has produced its first harvest. I figure you can't get more local than one's own kitchen (and the log was prepared in Scotland too)! I've harvested the largest, and should get another harvest tomorrow.

major_clanger should not click on the cut below.

mushroomy goodnessCollapse )

Now to eat them before autopope gets home.

The shop over the road has some tomato plants, and we have a south-facing window in the kitchen. I think that should be the next effort.


Tonight's tea

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

Goth RiceCollapse )

Lotus Root Balls in An SauceCollapse )

Tofu SteakCollapse )


Cookbook progress

Spent the day making gyoza and have added about 500 words to my word-count. The filling I have come up with is rather pleasant and is a way of getting autopope to eat green vegetables:

250g fresh mushrooms
2 cups worth of chopped greens - cabbage, spinach etc.,
2 spring onions
1 small carrot
1 or 2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tbl sesame oil (frying)

Chop all the vegetables finely. If you have one, pulverise the mushrooms in a food processor or blender. If not, just chop them as finely as you can. Fry all the filling ingredients except the mushrooms in the sesame oil till the cabbage is limp. Add mushroom and cook through. You are aiming for a filling which holds itself together.

I put mine in home-made wholemeal wrappers, which autopope naturally thinks would work really well with cheese gyoza. The cookbook will not mention this! I also opted for "deep fry the buggers" rather than any more healthy means of preparation.

11592 / 20000 words. 58% done!


I've been bashing on at the cookbook in fits and starts, in between feeling shit, 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.

All of which put me past a landmark word count:

10199 / 20000 words. 51% done!




Feòrag Fearsithe
The Drey

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