tofu

Vegan iri dofu (iri doufu) with garlic chives

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Iri dofu or iri doufu (炒り豆腐) is a simple, homely dish, real Japanese style ‘mother’s cooking’. Probably every Japanese home cook has his or her own recipe, but the base is plain tofu that is crumbled and then stirred around or gently stir fried (the iri 炒り part means that) until it resembles dry scrambled egg. In fact, it’s rather like the tofu version of iri tamago, but with more flavor and texture.

Iri dofu recipes often contain meat (usually pork), dashi or both, but here I have kept it vegan (in keeping with our vegetarian theme for May). I have added umami by including chopped dried shiitake mushrooms, miso and soy sauce. Garlic chives and ginger also add to the flavor, while the sansho pepper (also known as sichuan pepper) adds spice.

The best way to eat this is to simply pile it onto rice. Of course it’s perfect for a easy, healthy bento. continue reading...

Updated inarizushi recipe on Just Hungry

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In case you don’t follow Just Hungry (though, if you want to know about basic Japanese cooking techniques you really should :)) I’ve substantially updated the inarizushi recipe that I originally posted more than 4 years ago. The new article describes in detail how to make your own inarizushi skins, which, if you can get a hold of the aburaage (fried tofu skins), is not hard at all. The technique is useful for people who have had trouble with the infamous Eggs in Treasure Bags recipe!

Root vegetables and tofu stewed in miso sauce (a vegan one-pot meal)

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(On the forum and elsewhere, I frequently hear vegans lamenting the lack of vegan protein-rich dishes. Such dishes do exist in traditional Japanese cooking, and I try to introduce them to you. Not all dishes are that simple to make, though if you read through the recipes they aren’t really that hard. Anyway, here’s one vegan one-pot dish that is good hot or cold, so is very suited to bentos.)

There are all kinds of stewed dishes in Japanese cooking, called something-ni (煮). Collectively these are called 煮物 - ninomo. This is sort of a vegan variation on a classic nimono called chikuzen-ni (筑前煮), which is a staple of the New Year period and the winter months.

Chikuzen-ni gets its umami from chicken pieces and a rich dashi made from konbu seaweed and lots of katsuobushi, dried bonito flakes. Here I’ve skipped the dashi (though you could use vegan dashi for even more flavor), but I’ve used one of my favorite vegan proteins, atsuage or thick fried tofu, and added a lot of umami by using shiitake mushrooms, leek, and miso to finish. There are three kinds of root vegetables in this: taro root (satoimo 里芋 in Japanese), lotus root (renkon 蓮根)and carrots, so it’s full of fiber and nutrition and is a fairly complete vegan meal. I used it for a bento last week, and found it very filling. (I meant to use the leftovers for another bento round at least, but it got eaten up by someone…)

If you can’t get a hold of taro roots or dislike the slightly slimy texture, substitute boiling potatoes (the kind you use for potato salad, not baking potatoes). If you can’t get lotus roots, just leave them out and use more carrots.

This is not a quick recipe, but you can make a potful of it and can last you for several days of bentos and other meals. continue reading...

Shrimp and tofu mini-burgers (tsukune) with red pepper sauce

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There are already several mini-burger or tsukune dumpling type of recipes here, but here’s another one. What can I say - mini-burgers are just perfect for bentos: they taste good when they are cold, can be made in quantity, and usually freeze very well.

This time it’s a shrimp and tofu version, adapted quite a bit from a recipe in a recent issue of Kyou no ryouri: Beginners (Today’s Cooking: Beginners) magazine. It’s best when made with fresh shrimp, but uncooked frozen shrimp is fine. You probably don’t want to be messing around with shrimp paste in the morning, so it can made it the night before (have some for dinner too - it’s great hot) or freeze a batch. The sweet-hot red pepper jam I’ve used as a sauce goes very well with it, but if you don’t want to go to the trouble of making the jam, use a sweet or hot bottled chili sauce. continue reading...

Quick tip: Using tofu in bento-friendly recipes

Tofu is a great protein, especially useful for vegan or vegetarian, but also useful for lightening up meat based recipes. I use tofu in a number of recipes here, but I thought it would be useful to address how to deal with tofu when you’re using it for bento recipes.

Types of tofu

If you go to an Asian/Chinese or Japanese store, you might be confused by the variety of tofus on sale. continue reading...

Mediterranean flavored green vegan burgers

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I’ve loaded up the recipe archives with several chicken recipes, so now it’s time to add some more vegan and vegetarian recipes! To kick things off, here is a versatile, very tasty and very nutritious tofu based burger.

I haven’t done much in the garden this year, but I did rather randomly sew a whole lot of ‘cut and come again’ type greens seeds. Despite not taking much care of them, at the moment we are inundated with loads of slightly insect and slug-nibbled arugula or rucola, Swiss chard and other greens.

These vegan burgers are a very nice way to use up lots of greens like these in ways other than in salads. They are light yet very flavorful, so that even the most hardened carnivore is likely to gobble them up. They are good plain, or with a dipping sauce, and are great for bentos. continue reading...

Glazed Triple-Soy Loaf

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I am always on the lookout for vegan/vegetarian protein recipes that are bento friendly, and this flat oven baked loaf is another one. It's called triple-soy because it has tofu, edamame and miso in it. It has a very dense, rich texture with a sweet-salty glaze. One or two small squares are quite enough for a bento. It may fall apart a bit during transport, but that doesn't affect the texture or flavor. If you can, put it in its own compartment in your bento. continue reading...

Tuna tofu miso mini burgers

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I do like mini-burgers for bentos - they’re easy to make, easy to eat, and cute. This time it’s a tuna and tofu burger flavored with miso. Canned tuna is a versatile and handy staple to have around. I always seem to have at least a couple around - you may too. And it’s cheap, so if you live in the U.S. and are feeling a bit poor today after filing your taxes, these will help a bit in stretching your food budget. It’s better if you make the burgers with oil canned tuna, but water canned will do. They’re quick to mix up in a plastic bag, and cook up in a few minutes. continue reading...