02 August 2010

More Japanese Food

I have always enjoyed Japanese cuisine, but my interest in it has begun to grow most noticeably during the last few years.  The effects of having traveled abroad for the first time and my later vegan transition prompted me to seek more variety in my everyday eating and broaden my palate.  General interest in food naturally progressed to exploring worldly cuisines, eventually leading me to the Japanese segment of my unorganized culinary tour, which I continue to revisit with enthusiasm.  Perhaps the greatest appeal is the nostalgia associated with this specific cuisine; it reminds me of the types of foods I ate as a child--for which I have evolved a particular preference and fondness--and of a general culture I find endlessly fascinating.

At some point, I'd like to throw together a Japanese-inspired vegan feast, but so far, I have primarily stuck to cooking one or two individual dishes at any one time.  Most recently, I spent time in a snack or small side phase, with the following as examples of my "small bite" inclination.

Normally I shy away from frying food, but the mouth-watering photograph of Carrot Croquettes in The Enlightened Kitchen cookbook urged me momentarily give in to a craving for these crispy little tofu-carrot-walnut nuggets.  I opted to pan-fry the croquettes rather than deep-fry them, with successful results.  The crunchy coating was a lovely textural foil to the creamy interior.  This snack was addicting, even without an accompanying dip, and makes it easy to see why croquettes are so popular in Japan.
These baked satsuma-imo (Japanese sweet potato) chips were another example of minimal ingredients nonetheless resulting in tasty food.  I happen to love satsuma-imo, too.  After surviving my first attempt at using a resurrected V-Slicer, I tossed the sweet potato slices with a bit of olive oil and salt, arranged them on wire rack placed over a baking sheet, and baked them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, flipping them midway through baking time.  I seasoned them with a bit of salt and cinnamon-sugar while the chips were still hot.  While the chips would have been crispier and more flavorful had I opted to deep fat-fry rather than bake them, they still made for an appetizing snack.
Miso soup is quickly becoming a regular lunch around here.  It's simple, so easy to prepare, very customizable, light yet filling, and of course, delicious.  I prefer to use a combination of konbu stock and red miso, dressing up the broth with tofu (broiled, in this case), greens (spinach), and green onion.  A pinch of shichimi togarashi, or Japanese seven-spice, completes the soup.  It's soul food in a bowl, ready in mere minutes.
I don't envision myself tiring of Japanese food yet (or ever, at this point), so you're likely to see more of my exploration of this cuisine over and over again...

7 comments:

  1. I love Japanese cuisine and your examples are inspiring. We haven't had miso soup in a while, though in colder months it's a staple at our house. I'm with you in being squeamish about deep frying.

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  2. Hi :] I love Japanese sweet potatoes as well! Looks like they would be delicious as chips. I've never really tried sweet chips though--aside from the bad experience I had with that cinnamon variety of chex mix. Salty and sweet doesn't sound bad at all though!

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  3. I love Japanese food so much! THose carrot croquettes look to die for!

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  4. Oh carrot croquets and sweet potato chips, I love! I am in love with Japanese food.

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  5. Those croquettes look delicious!

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  6. Oh carrot croquets and sweet potato chips, I love! I am in love with Japanese food.

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  7. Hi :] I love Japanese sweet potatoes as well! Looks like they would be delicious as chips. I've never really tried sweet chips though--aside from the bad experience I had with that cinnamon variety of chex mix. Salty and sweet doesn't sound bad at all though!

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Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)