Vegan MoFo

Vegan MoFo Day 21: A Picnic by the Sea

I guess “teriyaki tempeh” doesn’t scream “beach picnic,” but who are you to judge me?

Above: Picnic lunch platter with teriyaki tempeh over brown rice, sesame cabbage slaw, steamed green beans, carrot sticks, ginger almond dip, and cherries.

Bright, colorful, filling–but not too rich, no no, wouldn’t want to interfere with sandy wanderings!

The only thing that relied on an actual written recipe was the cabbage slaw, and that came from Martha Stewart, of all places. It was all right–maybe a bit too salty? But it balanced all right with everything else on the plate. Plus I love chopping up cabbage super thin. Makes me feel like I have a knife skill. (Yeah, one.)

My teriyaki marinade is a haphazard thing I throw together in slightly different proportions every time. This one included ginger, garlic, whites of a scallion, soy sauce, mirin, agave nectar, and sesame oil, just enough to cover a container of uncooked tempeh slabs. It marinated overnight, then baked for about 40 minutes, or until most of the liquid cooked out. The result was super tender and flavorful (not to mention glossy and a pleasing shade of brown, perfect for insta).

For the almond dip, once again, I threw things in a food processor and hoped for the best: a handful whole almonds (unsoaked), fresh minced ginger, heaping teaspoon-ish of mild miso, eyeballed a tablespoon or two of tahini, agave nectar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and finally water until desired texture is reached. I was aiming for a kind of hummus-y texture that would contrast somehow with the teriyaki and cabbage dishes. It was a bit thick, but decent as a dip for crunchy veggies.

Just for the record, we really did eat this on a picnic table at the beach. It was a lovely gray day and we were trying to find a state beach along the Monterey coast that wasn’t completely packed, and just lucked out at Pajaro Dunes.

Food Blog Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 17: A Little Goes A Long Way (In This Case, 2 TB of Mirin Goes Halfway to Japan)

I generally don’t drink. I don’t care for beer, hate wine, and am disinclined to mix my own drinks or frequent bars. It’s just not my thing. I do keep a couple bottles of inexpensive wine, sherry, and – aha – mirin just for cooking, though. So today let’s talk about mirin!

It’s a sweet rice wine. I don’t believe it’s commonly used as a beverage, certainly not in the form sold in most US supermarkets, but it is a pretty common ingredient in sauces and marinades that take some cues from Japanese cooking.

Today I used it to make a teriyaki sauce, where it lends its characteristic sharp sweetness to the saltiness of soy sauce and bright, punchy fresh ginger and garlic. Well, OK, and there’s actual sugar in there, too, but whatever. Plain sugar in teriyaki sauce would not be the same!

The teriyaki sauce became the base for some baked tofu, of course, but that’s not all! I spooned a little into a pan with a little water, rice vinegar, and 1” pieces of kabocha squash and let it simmer. I mixed a few more spoonfuls with some ground-up black sesame seeds to make a thick, tangy paste to stir into steamed chopped kale. This trio of mirin-tinged delights found themselves in a bowl with short-grain brown rice, avocado, scallion, and more black sesame seeds for a delightful teriyaki bowl dinner. Mmmm, mmmm.