August 15, 2012
I just received a parcel from my uncle who is living in Japan. He made a visit to the ancient Rinnoji Buddhist temple in the famous village of Nikko and picked up a bunch of omamori (good-luck charms) and other temple goodies!
…He also packed up some interesting snacks that also luckily happened to be vegan. One of the things he sent over was dried natto. Probably, the place where you encounter it most often in our part of the world is in ‘natto rolls’ in Japanese restaurants, although it’s most commonly eaten over a bowl of rice. It’s made of fermented soy beans, and is a traditional food in Japan that has likely existed for thousands of years. Natto is another one of those soy products along with tofu and miso that traditionally provided the Japanese diet with proteins and other nutrients…I guess it’s only not as popular around here as tofu and miso because of its really strong flavour! It definitely took me a while to get used to it, but I love it now!
He sent me the freeze-dried kind that you can just pour into a bowl and much on for a little snack.
He also sent me tororo kombu (shaved kelp). It’s really easy to use – you can just add it to your soups, or even use it straight as a soup stock by adding it to hot water with soy sauce. For extra flavour, I add in a bit of veggie broth and it gives a really pleasant flavour. Tororo kombu is super healthy and some health authorities even say that it has anti-obesity effects!
May 1, 2012
So, this is what I’ve been having for dinner the last couple of nights:
…well, about four or five bowls of this to be exact haha (:
Before going vegan, I really enjoyed having a big pot of sukiyaki with friends and family – one of my favorite treats growing up. But, a big part of that is beef, so we’ve been modifying this time with veggie-yaki!
I start off by going to the market and getting any of the freshest looking seasonal vegetables. This time, I got nappa cabbage, portobello mushrooms, asparagus, carrots, sweet onions, kombu, and tofu. Then, I slice them all up and put them on a big tray.
I set a big hotplate the centre of the dinner table and cook up a miso broth, then add in some veggies…and pour in a bunch of sake (yup, the Japanese rice wine! sooo good!).
Then, we all sit around and talk and eat, and keep adding in more veggies from the tray as we eat. Good times (: And, a really easy, delicious way to fill up on healthy foods!
It’s also always a great idea to have condiments like soy sauce and tōgarashi (Japanese chili spice mix) at the table so that everyone can add their preferred flavour to each bowl.
March 3, 2012
I want to share a dish that I’ve been enjoying a lot lately: Ojiya!
It’s an old traditional hotpot dish called “ojiya”. The word is thought to originate from Spanish, and has similar counterparts in Asian cuisine such as zosui.
It’s a great way of using up left over cold rice, veggies, tofu, and whatever else you’ve got kicking around in the fridge!
Here’s what you do:
Prepare some kind of broth…or even just a pot of water.
Then, you add in the rice, veggies, tofu, etc. I always like to add seaweed because of its enormous health benefits – especially its high iodine content which is super important for vegans/vegetarians. Kombu and wakame (types of seaweed) also add so much great flavour that if you put them in the hotpot, you don’t necessarily even need a broth! If you want to give it some sweetness, I love adding in some carrots (:
At the end, you can add some miso to taste. And right before you eat, you can throw in some baby spinach, topped with sesame seeds and crushed pepper.
As a side note: this dish was apparently often prepared for people when they were feeling under the weather because of it’s incredible nutritious value, ease of digestion, and…well…probably just because it’s really yummy! It’s my new chicken noodle soup (:
In traditional high-end Japanese restaurants, it was usually served at the end of a course meal in place of where we would have gotten desert in Western restaurants.