While by no means a vegetarian, several times a year as Orthodox Christians we go vegan during the fasting periods. Given the prevalence of dashi in everything I have usually relied on western vegan recipes during this time. As we come up on the Nativity Fast I decided to look into some Japanese Vegetarian cookbooks and try out something new.
First I tripped upon Kansha by Elizabeth Andoh. I have one of her other cookbooks Washoku, and while I really like her research and her writing it just doesn’t cut the mustard with my “inspiration index”. Basically, nowhere near enough photos.
So I fell back on my old favourite inspiration, Nobu Matsuhisa with Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook. Very much styled on his other recipe books which have provided me with great dreams over the years it is filled with great recipes and delightful photography. There are a myriad of interesting dishes to try, most of them not difficult at all with access to the right ingredients. Different recipes for Dashi that are very vegan are included and used throughout most of the dishes.
Many of the dishes use the vegetarian stock for cooking or marinating in a traditional Japanese approach. There are also variations on classic Nobu twists such as using the “New Style Oil” approach, that he pioneered with sashimi to make it more palatable for the raw fish skeptic, to attack beautiful fruit tomatoes. There is a variation one of my favourite asparagus dishes, previously with egg sauce and salmon roe (Ikura) this time with a more healthy approach as well as vegan using a miso based sauce and long onions as garnish. The front cover surprised me when I got to the recipe, vegetable sushi (sure) but vegetables are “cured” with konbu.
There are some unfortunate recipes that no doubt are inspired by his clients; a proliferation of truffles used in many recipes are great but a little off the radar for many of us. Sure, they are vegan but incredibly expensive (and while legal in my fasting regimen defy the spirit of why it is done).
Overall a great inspiration book; many solid recipes but underlying techniques that can be migrated to other vegetables and ingredients. Oh, and he dips fruit tomatoes in chocolate, fabulous!!!!! Highly recommended and I hope to show you some of the recipes and techniques as I try them over the coming months.