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Vegan Mofo day 25 - my favourite cuisine is Japanese

I've never been to Japan. I'd like to very much. Until I can afford that plane ticket, I've just been travelling there through cookbooks, the Japan Centre, and a few vegan cooking courses.

Japanese cooking might traditionally have a lot of fish and meat, but thanks to its respect for vegetables and tofu - as well as its shojin ryori Buddhist cuisine - there's a lot of alternatives for the herbivores too.

I wanted to write something clever about why I love Japanese food, but it's basically because it's amazingly tasty, quick to make something gorgeous, and won't fill up your cupboards with all sorts of stuff you'll never use again.

I was told there are five main seasonings in Japanese food: dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, mirin, sake, and vinegar, so with just a few bottles you can have a complete Japanese larder ready to go. Add a few vegetables, tofu, noodles or rice, and you've got an amazing meal in not a very long time at all.

Here's my standby (and probably a great many people's too, I'll warrant) - yasai yaki udon. Or, to put it another way, noodles and veggies.

A relatively new addition to my Japanese repertoire is pasta with shiso pesto. Shiso, Japan's more personality-laden basil, makes an amazing pesto with some pine nuts, olive oil and garlic. It makes a pretty decent lazy-arse dip mixed with a bit of silken tofu and mayonnaise too.

This is a Japanese plate I cobbled together not so long ago: spinach with sesame oil, teriyaki tofu, green beans in crushed sesame, and sushi.

While I'm a massive fan of Japanese food, I'm no scholar, so I have a horrible feeling that anyone Japanese person seeing all of this on the same plate would be massively confused or disturbed. Maybe it would be the Japanese equivalent of seeing an English breakfast with a Cornish pasty on the same plate.  Japanese chefs, I apologise to you, but I still massively enjoyed the dinner.

Another reason I love Japanese food is a) its almost all made on the stovetop, so no waiting for the oven to heat up and b) it's one of those food cultures that wholeheartedly and creatively uses loads of different types of tofu.

Here's one of my favourites, aburage, used in a lovely warming stew with potatoes and carrots called age jaga. Apparently it's a Japanese take on a traditional English meat-and-spuds hotpot. Now that's fusion food I can appreciate.

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  1. I'm seeing a lot of love for Japanese food in people's posts today. I must admit I've always been a bit scared of it, thinking I'd need to spend a fortune on ingredients. This post is great and has helped de-mystify it for me.

  2. Japan is my dream destination. I think I would cry at some of the beautifully presented food that I've seen on other blogs when the authors visited vegan places in Japan.

  3. Good call, I adore Japanese food! I always dismissed the food as too fancy to cook at home but, like you say, once you've got the key ingredients it's actually really simple, and really tasty.

  4. Your dishes look amazing! And I have no clue what Cornish pastry is. I love your posts because I always have to google something. :-)

  5. I used to eat a lot more Japanese food than I do now, and suddenly I miss it very much. It all looks so gorgeous <3

  6. I prefer Japanese cuisine moreso than I do Chinese cuisine, so appreciate this post and the plates of food all sing lightness too, whereas a lot of other cuisines are quite heavy on the belly. Hope you share some recipes too

  7. Japanese food, that's a good one. It is so elegant and pretty, as well as healthy. I need to eat it more often.

    Your dishes all look amazing, especially the stew. Are the meaty-looking bits tofu or mushrooms?

  8. We'd love to get to Japan too but I clearly could do more with making Japanese cuisine in our kitchen! Your dishes look wonderful.

  9. Great post! I've never heard of shiso before - how interesting. I'm yet to go to Japan either but have meant to go this year - i ended up booking flights to NZ instead. I'm hoping to go there next year ☺

  10. Yup, Japanese is definitely one of my favorite cuisines too. All of your dishes look so pretty and yummy. :-)

  11. Yum, I love Japanese too. All of your plates look great!

  12. Japanese food is such a mystery for me. I've actually made a few very exceptional vegan japanese dinners, but I've never really delved into it. So much to learn!!!


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