Japanese Food and Culture: A Vegetarian Menu to Celebrate Spring

———–

Clockwise from far left: short grain brown rice with aduki beans, hijiki with lotus root and carrot, shungiku and apple with walnut dressing, daikon and apricot sunomono, clear soup with brown shimeji mushrooms and watercress, tofu pouches stuffed with clear noodles and vegetables, with steamed asparagus. (Click on photo to enlarge)

———–

When Fumiko Arao and I came together recently to create this vegetarian meal, we brought very different backgrounds to her kitchen.  She grew up in Tokyo and learned cooking from her mother and grandmother.  I, long ago, lived in Japan and learned cooking as an apprentice in a six-table vegetarian restaurant in Osaka. But we agreed that the meal should be balanced, including rice, a sea vegetable, a pickle, soup, and an interesting entree, and that it should evoke the season, early spring. Also, we wanted it not to be so esoteric that you couldn’t reproduce it in your own kitchen. You will need to make a trip to a well-stocked Asian market such as Ranch 99, in the Bay Area, but if you do that, I’m pretty sure you’ll find all the ingredients you need.  And, of course there’s no need to reproduce the entire meal, pick and choose whatever seems interesting. Recipes and many more photos are after the jump. Continue reading