Bento no. 10: Vegan bento featuring kiriboshi daikon and chickpea fritters

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Bento contents:

  • Kiriboshi Daikon (dried daikon radish) fritters
  • Carrot and lemon salad
  • Boiled edamame

Total calories (approx): 380-400 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 25 minutes total (10 the night before, 15 in the morning)

Type: Fusion-vegan-gluten-free

In the winter months there is a limited selection of fresh vegetables available at a reasonable price. So I rely more on frozen, canned and dried vegetable staples. This bento uses two of them. One is frozen edamame, which you are probably familiar with already. The other is kiriboshi daikon, shredded and dried daikon radish, which I've described in detail here. It should be available at Japanese grocery stores - some health food stores may carry it too. It needs a brief soaking in water to reconstitute, and the soaking liquid is used sometimes by vegan people as a stock - it has a distinctive flavor.

The other key ingredient in the fritters is gram or chickpea flour, which is available at Indian or South Asian groceries. It's a great staple, especially for vegans, since it's packed with protein. And, it's gluten-free for those with a gluten intolerence. I've used them previously in this zucchini and chickpea pancakes. These kiriboshi daikon fritters are smaller and crispier than the zucchini pancakes, and are delicious at room temperature.

The fritter batter is ideally made the night before and left to rest in the fridge, where the gram flour can soak up the liquid and become smooth.

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This is accompanied by boiled edamame and a simple carrot and lemon oil-free salad. The raw cabbage leaf that's used as a divider and liner for the fritters is not meant to be eaten, though you can of course if you want to. A dipping sauce is optional - here I've made a simple soy sauce and vinegar sauce, but you could also use sweet chili sauce (even the packets that are left over from a Chinese takeout) as reader Ylimuuli suggested for the zucchini pancakes.

There's so much fiber in this bento that it's very filling.

Ingredients

For the fritters:

This makes enough for 2 portions. Extra ones can be frozen, or just have them for dinner!

  • 3/4 cup (360ml) finely ground gram or chickpea flour
  • Handful of kiriboshi daikon
  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger, julienned
  • About 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup of the kiriboshi daikon soaking liquid
  • Small handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves (optional)
  • Oil for frying

For the sauce (per person):

  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. rice or black vinegar
  • Drops of chili oil
  • About a teaspoonful of chopped green onions, taken from the ones you chopped for the fritters

For the carrot salad (per person):

  • 2 small or 1 large carrot
  • About 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • Pinch of sugar

  • About 1/2 cup (or more if you're hungry) frozen edamame in pods

Equipment

  • 1 large nonstick frying pan or sauté pan
  • 1 mixing bowl
  • 1 small saucepan
  • electric water kettle

Steps - the night before ideally

  • Pull a handful of kiriboshi daikon off the tangled mass it comes as. Soak in plenty of water for at least 5 minutes, until soft.
  • Chop the green onion, ginger and optional coriander leaves. (Reserve some of the green onion for the sauce.)
  • Drain the kiriboshi daikon and squeeze out the moisture, reserving the soaking liquid. Chop into pieces.
  • Put all the vegetables in a mixing bowl. Add the 3/4 cups gram flour and salt; mix well. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1/2 cup of the reserved soaking liquid. (You can keep the rest of the soaking liquid to use as a vegan stock if you like.)
  • Leave covered in the refrigerator overnight.

You can shred up the carrots and mix up the sauce the night before if you like too.

Steps - in the morning

  • Fill and switch on the kettle.
  • Heat up a large frying pan with a little oil (light olive oil or peanut oil) on medium-high heat.
  • Shred or coarsely grate the carrots.
  • Mix with lemon juice and sugar.
  • Add boiling water, salt and edamame to a pan. Boil for about 4-5 minutes.
  • Drop spoonfuls of the fritter batter into the hot pan; flatten a bit. Fry until golden brown, flip over and repeat. It should take about 3-4 minutes per side.
  • Drain the fritters on paper towels and let cool a bit.
  • Drain the edamame and let cool a bit.
  • Mix up the sauce by combining all the ingredients.
  • Line your bento box with a piece of lettuce or cabbage. Arrange the fritters on there. Put the carrot salad in a piece of plastic wrap and twist closed. Fill the gap with edamame.

Timeline

You could actually do everything the night before, but the fritters are better and crispier if you fry them in the morning.

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