vegan

Okowa: Sticky rice with all kinds of good things

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Okowa (おこわ)is the name given to a type of rice dish in which sticky glutinous rice is mixed with all kinds of vegetables or meat and steamed. It’s related to Chinese sticky rice, which you might have had as part of a dim sum meal. If the rice mix is steamed in small packets, wrapped in a bamboo leaf, it’s called chimaki. You can mix any number of things in with the rice to make it a complete meal in itself. continue reading...

Bento no. 34: Vegan dry curry bento

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Bento contents:

  • 3/4 cup (1 cup = 220ml) brown rice, 170 cal
  • 4 Tbs. Vegan dry curry made with soybeans, 200 cal
  • Cucumber and cherry tomato salad with yogurt sauce, 40 cal
  • Broccoli, 10 cal

Total calories (approx): 420 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 10 minutes in the morning

Type: Japanese-yohshoku, vegan (soybeans or tempeh) continue reading...

Japanese dry curry with soybeans or tempeh

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Dry curry is a uniquely Japanese dish, much like the stew-type of Japanese curry. Dry curry is really well suited to bentos. The spicy curry aroma is appetising yet not overwhelming, and the combination of salty, spicy and sweet flavors really gets me going.

The recipe for a more traditional ground meat based dry curry has already been posted on Just Hungry. This is a vegan version that uses cooked soybeans or crumbled tempeh. It’s so rich in flavor that even non-vegetarians won’t miss the meat. It’s also very easy to make, though a food processor helps for chopping up all the vegetables.

Both the meat based and this soybean based dry curry mixes freeze very well, making them perfect freezer staples. continue reading...

Roasted carrot spread

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I do love carrots. They are full of nutrients and fiber, inexpensive, available year around, and durable. And their bright orange color (or other colors, if you delve into the exotic varieties) add instant cheer to any dish or bento box. So when I saw that my favorite vegan author Yumiko Kano was coming out with a new book of just carrot recipes, I reserved it in advance without a second thought.

This is a recipe adapted from that book. It’s a soft, light carrot spread or paste that is sweet, salty and a bit spicy. It has tahini (sesame seed paste) in it, which adds richness as well as protein. The spiciness comes from cumin and red chili pepper powder, and the sweetness comes from the carrot itself, which is roasted to intensify the flavor, and a tad of raw cane sugar. It is great as a spread on crackers or rice cakes or toast, or as a dip. The soft texture means it can’t quite substitute for peanut butter in a pb and j sandwich, but it’s fantastic in a wrap sandwich. It is of course totally gluten-free and nut-free too, so if your child’s school has a “no-nut” policy, which seems to be increasingly common these days, this is great. continue reading...

Bento no. 32: Fiber-rich vegan leftovers bento

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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 485 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 10 minutes in the morning

Type: Japanese, vegan (tofu) continue reading...

Carrot rice two ways

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Carrot rice is basically just rice cooked with carrots and some flavorings. It makes the rice colorful, as well as sneaking in some more vegetable content into your meal, bento or not. (It should work on kids too.) It does not taste ‘carrot-y’ at all, just slightly sweet.

I’ve been experimenting with different ways of making carrot rice, and these are the two methods that produce the best flavored rice so far with the least effort. One or the other may fit your routine better, so they are both here. continue reading...

Bento filler: Green asparagus and scrambled tofu

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When I woke up this morning, it was snowing heavily! By mid-afternoon the sun was shining brightly and the snow had completely melted. Such is early spring. And speaking of early spring, it’s asparagus time! The ones we are getting in the markets here now are from Spain, which is not totally local, but at least they’re coming to us from on same continent.

Asparagus goes very well with eggs and egg-based sauces like hollandaise and mayonnaise, and scrambled eggs and asparagus is a classic dish. This is a vegan version, using scrambled tofu. Don’t scoff at it until you’ve tried it - there are some ingredients in there that make it taste creamy and just slightly tangy, a perfect foil to the asparagus.

For speed purposes, use just the tips and tender stalk parts of fairly skinny spears for this.

This is also great for breakfast, piping hot with toast. continue reading...

Bento filler: Spring greens namul (namuru)

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Namul (or namuru as it’s called in Japan) is a very versatile vegetable side dish from Korea. It’s one of the key ingredients of a bibinbap but I make namul much more frequently than I make bibinbap. Various vegetables are quickly boiled or blanched, and then dressed with a simple dressing of sesame oil and salt. It’s a great way to eat a lot of vegetables, since the boiling or blanching shrinks down the mass quite a lot. The compactness makes it a perfect bento side dish. It’s so good for you, but tastes great!

I make namul with all kinds of vegetables, including the most commonly used one, bean sprouts. But at this time of year I like to make it with brightly colored spring greens. The toasty sesame oil dressing is a perfect foil to the bitterness of many of these greens. Here I’ve used three kinds of greens that are easily available to me, but do use whatever you have around where you live. I’ve used the dark green, mildly bitter leaves of a puntarelle or catalogna (which I used to think was cima de rapa), spinach leaves, and lamb’s lettuce (also known as mâche - see more about ithere). If I were in Japan at this time of year I’d use spinach, nanohana, and maybe some komatsuna. I’ve listed some green vegetables that would work below. continue reading...