Japan is one of the best providers of accessible produce, with an impressive selection all year round. Fresh ingredients are a must for any plant-based meal, but it can feel daunting to start cooking with new vegetables. How can westerners design fusion cuisine from a vegetarian ingredients list, keeping in mind what is readily available at the grocery store?
For 9 years, I’ve been experimenting with various foods found in the Kansai region, taking traditional ingredients and creating western vegetarian dishes from it. On this voyage of finding healthier options, I’ve made use of some of Japan’s most common foods, notably tofu. In this recipe, you can see how it makes the base of the traditional french pastry, quiche.
Artichoke and Tomato Quiche
Rice Flour Pie Crust
1/4 C cold butter
1/4 C solid coconut oil
1 1/2 C white rice flour
6-8 Tbsp cold water
Preheat oven 200C for 15 min.
Cut butter and oil into rice flour mixture until crumbly. Add cold water, using your hands to work the dough until soft. Mixture will be crumbly at first, but will slowly come together as a dough. Once dough comes together, form into a ball. Place dough in a tart pan and press into the bottom and sides. Once pie crust is in the pan, take a fork and prick the bottom of the crust. Place prepared pie crust in the oven and bake for about 12-15 min, until edges are golden brown.
500g-600g hard tofu (2 large packs)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp flaxmeal
1/2 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 C green onion, finely chopped
1/3 C basil leaves, finely chopped
1/3 C sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water, drained, and finely chopped
1/3 C artichoke hearts, drained and patted dry, chopped
1 Tbsp each dried oregano, onion flakes, garlic powder
3/4-1 tsp sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 C mix of black olives and sliced cherry tomatoes for decorating
Heat tofu in the microwave to release excess water, pat dry, and break apart. In a food processor, blend tofu, cornstarch, flax meal, salt, turmeric, and nutritional yeast until smooth. In a skillet, add oil and saute onion and garlic over medium heat for a few minutes. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, oregano, onion flakes, garlic powder, and pepper until combined. Finally, remove from heat and stir in tofu until thoroughly combined. Stir in basil leaves and green onion. Adjust seasoning to taste. Spoon mixture into baked crust and smooth with a spoon. Decorate top with sliced and deseeded cherry tomatoes and olives. Bake quiche, uncovered, at 190C for 35-45 minutes, until firm to the touch. If crust is beginning to burn, cover edges with foil. For best results, cool quiche for 15-20 min on a cooling rack before slicing. Wrap leftovers and refrigerate for 3-4 days. Leftover quiche can be reheated in the oven on a baking sheet for about 15-20 min at 180C.
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