Saturday, October 10, 2009

Japanese peanut sauce?

I mean: Japanese peanut sauce! My authority here is Mari Fujii, from The Enlightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan. If they serve this stuff in the temples of Japan, it's good enough for my blog ;-)

First, a confession in advance. Until today, I have been totally true to my VeganMoFo 2009 challenge, which is to say that every meal I've eaten has been Japanese or at least Japanese-inspired, and eaten with chopsticks. Apparently Kimiko Barber has come out with a book called The Chopsticks Diet, where you essentially do what I'm doing in this blog during the month of October, eat Japanese-inspired food with chopsticks. I don't have this book and have never seen it, and on September 30 I probably would have scoffed at the idea, but though I am not noticeably losing weight (at least yet), I am eating less, just because it really does take longer to eat this kind of food, and am certainly a lot more mindful about what I am eating. That said, after only 10 days I have mad chopstick skillz and can shovel in the noodles with the best of them, I'm sure.

Well, it's Thanksgiving weekend, and we have special guests, and though I gave it my all, as I do every year, my extended family is not willing to budge one centimetre from tradition—no, wait, that's not true, they will budge to the extent of being extremely considerate of me and my veganism in the preparation of their vegetable dishes—but the thing is, they are not willing to have a Japanese-themed Thanksgiving, so I will be veering from my October mission for two days into New England-type cuisine—or today, New England/Mexican fusion—and eating with forks and spoons (they would just die with laughter seeing me try to eat chili or mashed potatoes with chopsticks, okay?).

That said, I'm in charge of the pumpkin pie, and with 16 for supper, that isn't a small responsibility. But I'm in charge of that pie for a reason, and tomorrow I'll be blogging vegan pumpkin pie, with my own tried and true, wonderful perfect recipe, about which even my brother Douglas says, in his deep, masculine, meat-eater voice, "Well I have to say I have no problem with vegan desserts…" so stay tuned.

Today, however, I'm not even making the chili, so I thought I'd whip up a little something Japanese, a little dish I had for lunch. As I was putting together this peanut sauce, I realized that I've never made or eaten a peanut sauce that didn't have that double SHAZAM! of cilantro and hot pepper, so this was interesting. My right hand kept going up to the dried red peppers in the spice cupboard, and my left hand kept slapping it back. This is the recipe, again from Mari Fujii's The Enlightened Kitchen:

6 tbsp peanut butter (unsweetened)
2 tsp white miso
2 tbsp sake
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp mirin

Mix them all together (I used my Magic Bullet; no, I do not work for Magic Bullet, nor do I receive remuneration from my mention of this product in my blog, but it really is a good product, especially for the single saucieuse).

What does it taste like? Surprisingly…alcoholic. Peanutty. Good, but not like wow my whole life has changed because of this sauce but I'm scared to try it tomorrow because by then the garlic flavour will have developed to the point that if I eat it I won't be able to sleep sort of thing. It was nice, like a quiet guest with an appealing smile.

What I'm taking to New England/Mexican fusion night, in about half an hour, is the onion-jalapeno version of the Veganomicon cornbread, and I have to say that although I've made this before for myself with great success, and tonight's looks wonderful, for some reason I was so negligent as to not have made soymilk ahead of time, so I had to use Silk regular, which is great in coffee but in cooking feels intensely vanilla-flavoured. Noooooo! But maybe, since this cornbread is sweet anyway, it will be okay. I feel that in my family I stand for a certain constellation of ethical choices, which in the wrong place vanilla flavour could undermine entirely. Wish me luck!


  1. I think you should go for eating the mashed potatoes with chopsticks ;) Just kidding, that is a funny image. Your food looks so beautiful and delicious. I'm sure the cornbread will be a big hit! I'm going to put that peanut sauce on my list of things to try.

  2. Thanks, Rose! The cornbread was a hit, a testament to Isa's awesomeness, and it had to compete with some pretty fantastic-looking cheese biscuits...all the same, the vanilla flavour lingered, and I wish I had had the wit to have some proper unflavoured soy milk handy...soybeans are soaking as I type, however, and I won't be caught out again!

  3. This is my new favorite blog! Everything looks wonderful...can't wait to try.