Simple, easy and delicious vegetarian Japanese recipes
January 18, 2006 1:53 PM   Subscribe

Simple, easy and delicious vegetarian Japanese recipes I can make at home?

I have absolutely zero experience cooking Japanese cuisine, but I would like to give it a try. I love sushi, miso soup, spring rolls, tofu, edmame and noodle dishes. (I'm aware these aren't the most uber-authentic selections, but I live in Texas.) I would like your favorite recipes/tips for these, or other recipes/tips for equally delicious Japanese treats.

I am within a reasonable distance of a Central Market and a Whole Foods, both of which carry a small selection of Asian goods. I'm willing to purchase ingredients online. Important things to note:

- Must be at least vegetarian (eggs and dairy okay) but vegan is okay too
- Peanuts are out

Thank you!
posted by aebaxter to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
um, I want to piggyback onto this question, but stipulate that peanuts are way OK. Maybe put PEANUTTY as a warning flag?
posted by everichon at 2:03 PM on January 18, 2006

start with miso soup, cold soba noodles, and pan fried dumplings
posted by SNACKeR at 2:10 PM on January 18, 2006

Sundays at the Moosewood Restaurant has a good Japanese section.

I also like Japanese Cooking Contemporary & traditional by Miyoka Nishimoto Schinner. It's a vegan cookbook, but dairy isn't a common ingredient in Japanese food (in my experience). The book contains a vegan version of unagi, which replicates the taste and texture amazingly well.
posted by luneray at 2:17 PM on January 18, 2006

I just made my own miso ramen last night for dinner and it was pretty easy. I didn't follow a recipe or anything, but here's roughly what I did.

miso paste (vegan - only contained soy, water, and rice)
2 shittake mushrooms
a handful of (mung) beansprouts (the white/yellow kind)
noodles (I used wheat, but soba would work too)
green onion
fried tofu
a clove of garlic
cabbage/bok-choy or any other veggie could be used


Boil a pot of water for the broth. Slice the mushrooms into thin pieces. Throw in a bit of salt, the mushrooms (including stem for flavor) and garlic in the boiling water. Prepare the noodles as the package suggests and then set them aside to drain. Throw the fried tofu into the broth after mushrooms and garilc has been in there cooking for about 5 minutes. I throw the vegetables in last so that they don't get too soggy/mushy, which is about 5 minutes before serving.

Wash the sprouts, chop the green onion, and use scissors to cut the seaweed into thin strips for garnish.

When I'm ready to serve, I spoon some miso paste into the bottom of a bowl and put some broth in the bowl and mix it. When the broth in the bowl is at my desired miso-ness, I put the noodles into the bowl and top it with some sprouts. I then put a bit more broth over the noodles and sprouts, ladle some sliced shittake mushrooms, tofu, and veggies on top, and then top the whole thing off with a sprinkling of chopped green onions and nori.
posted by nakedsushi at 2:21 PM on January 18, 2006 [3 favorites]

Agedashi dofu is delicious.
posted by missmerrymack at 2:28 PM on January 18, 2006

Maybe try looking through this forum.
posted by FortyT-wo at 2:30 PM on January 18, 2006

I'll second luneray's Sundays at the Moosewood Restaurant. The 'Junco's delicious potatoes braised in butter and sake' is to die for. No vegetarian should be without this book.
posted by tellurian at 3:09 PM on January 18, 2006

You could try yakisoba. Most recipes use a bit of meat, but it's easy to simply leave it out. I'd start with the basic recipe on that page, add some cabbage, and substitute some thin slices of fried tofu for the meat. Donburi (toppings over rice) is also easy and tasty. For that recipe, leave out the chicken or substitute with tempura or tofu.
posted by vorfeed at 3:46 PM on January 18, 2006

One of the more popular ways to make sushi at home is to make handrolls. Basically cut up your favorite vegtables, boil some sushi rice and get some seaweed paper cut into halves or quarters. Pack rice and vegetables in middle, wrap like an ice cream cone and there you go. You can up the prep time by making sushi rice- after cooking it dump it in a big wood bowl and add rice vinegar while fanning. You can also blanch the vegetables in some water.*

You can also look up recipe for Bi-Bim-Bap (or Bim-Bim-Bop, or Bi-Bi-Bap) which is a Korean recipe that sometimes has meat but you should be able to find a recipe for it online. It's rice, vegetables, a fried egg and some hot sauce.

*Yes there are more specific directions on how to make handrolls and sushi rice, but any good recipe book on Japanese food can give a better description than I can on the measurements for food. We've always just thrown the stuff together during informal Japanese dinners.
posted by rodz at 4:53 PM on January 18, 2006

Sushi: My favorite rolls have something like tempura sweet potato, cream cheese, avocado, carrot & maybe cucumber or asparagus. A sushi chef told me "You must use VERY sharp knife!" and there are other tricks you can read about online, like wetting you hands or lightly toasting the sheets of nori seaweed and so forth. I've made sushi at home several times and from my experience it just never comes out as good as the masters make it, so don't worry so much about it.. If you want to just use short grain white rice, so be it.

Tempura: Use Tempura batter mix by Golden Dipt (brand), mix with water - make it fairly thin/watery batter and keep ice cubes in it (if it gets TOO watery add some more batter) - the secret to good tempura is the batter must be ice cold when it hits the hot oil (I keep the stove at heat mark 6 for deep drying). Try cutting sweet potato into strips, frying it, and using it in rolls. Otherwise my favorite fried veggies are broccoli & zucchini...Mmmm!! And don't forget the special dipping sauce....

Miso Soup: I made this at home and was amazed cuz it was the best miso soup I have ever had.

Ingredients: 1/6oz dried wakame*, 8-10oz soft tofu, 1 and 2/3 cups second dashi stock*(See below) or same amount of water with 1tsp dashi-no-moto, 3 tbsp miso (I use red or mellow white, brown would probably be okay too), 2 spring onions/scallions finely chopped.

Soak wakame for 15m in large bowl of cold water, then drain. Cut tofu into 1cm cubes, Boil the stock, then mix miso in separate bowl with 4tbsp of hot stock, reduce heat to low and pour 2/3 of the miso into the pan of stock. Taste soup; if more miso is desired then add more. Add wakame & tofu & increase heat but do not boil, then add spring onions, remove from heat, and serve.

*Whole Foods should sell the dried wakame seaweed (Eden brand I think - you will be amazed at how much these expand in water).
*Dashi stock: "The stock is made from dried seaweed or from dried tuna shavings." SO I suppose it's either vegetarian or not.. You could probably substitute vegetable broth and be okay.

Peanutty: (for others) I modified this recipe by adding to the peanut butter sauce a few dashes of Fish Sauce, dash of cinnamon & red pepper flakes, abt 1/4tsp brown sugar, 1tbsp. lemon juice, 1/2-1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger, and cayenne & chili powder to taste (a few dashes). Cook your choice of thick long noodles (fettucine or soba, whatever, about 8-12oz or so)
and saute with some fresh, lightly steamed broccoli florets, chopped napa cabbage & carrots, garnish with fresh cilantro & a sprinkle of black sesame seeds for fun. You can throw in some tofu or something if you want to make it a more balanced meal (protein), but I'm not very good at cooking tofu.... Shrimp (or shrimp and chicken together) go pretty well with this. I don't consider this recipe very Japanese at all, but it's pretty good if you like peanut sauce :)
posted by mojabunni at 6:44 PM on January 18, 2006 [1 favorite]

Shanghai Edamame Dumpling in Miso Broth


2 cups edamames
1 cup tightly packed spinach leaves
1/4 cup cold, chopped butter
2 tbsp chopped chives
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 pkg thin wonton skins
Egg-wash (1 egg lightly beaten with 1/4 cup cold water)


2 tbsp miso paste
Cilantro for garnish



1. In a pot of salted water, boil the edamame's until soft, about 10 minutes. During the last 2 minutes, add the spinach to wilt. Strain well (making sure to squeeze the water out of the spinach) and reserve 2 cups of the cooking water.

2. Add the miso paste to the cooking water, stir well to blend and set aside in a small pot.

3. Add the beans and spinach to a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add the butter and only pulse. You want small pieces of butter in the mousse.

4. Fold in the chives and season. Place in refrigerator until chilled through.

5. To make the dumplings, lay out 4 skins at a time and spoon about 1/2 tablespoon of mousse on each. Brush on egg-wash on the edges and fold in half to form a semi circle. Repeat to make 24 in total. Reserve in the refrigerator.

6. In a large pot of boiling, lightly salted water, add dumplings and cook for only 3 minutes. Serve immediately in a wide bowl covered with a small amount of the reheated miso broth and a sprig of cilantro.
posted by Manhasset at 8:20 PM on January 18, 2006

Sushi is a lot easier to make than most people realize. Alton brown did a show on making sushi this last season on Good Eats, and all you need to do is substitute veggies for the meat. Once you get the hang of it, it only takes about an hour or so to make a bunch of sushi from scratch, and as long as you get the rice done right, it will taste very good (maybe not as good as a japanese restaurant, but it will be 100 times better than supermarket "sushi")
posted by markblasco at 9:47 AM on January 19, 2006

Gomaae (or goma ae) is dead easy to make. Boil some spinach. Mix soy sauce and sesame paste (tahini) 1:1 to make a sauce. You could add a bit of sugar/honey.

It's the only way my kids will eat spinach.

Alternately, use green beans instead of spinach.
posted by mediaddict at 11:45 AM on January 19, 2006

A great site for wasabi addicts. One of the few ways I'll eat tuna is in there.

BTW mediaaddict, have you heard from IronLizard?
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:20 AM on January 20, 2006

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