Here's another one, much like the daikon mochi I made for Thanksgiving, that makes a hearty, wintery, root vegetabley treat that's easy, cheap, and also vegan. But I added cheese. And I recommend adding cheese. It's just.. potatoes and cheese. You know?
I've been eating a lot of vegan food and have switched almost 100% to almond and soymilk, but I'm not on a totally vegan diet anymore and haven't been for quite a while. And thank god, because unless you have a lot of time, money, energy, and love for cooking, it completely sucks trying to do gf vegan in Japan. Nay, it is impossible.
You will need (yields 3 - 4 servings):
-Potatoes - like obviously - but in this case, like 5 medium-sized ones
-1/3 of a large Spanish onion
-Half a head of garlic (I used one whole small head, because it's very mild)-
-About 1/3 cup of katakuriko
-Cheddar or another strong tangy cheese, vegan if you prefer!
-Salt and black pepper to taste
-Olive oil for sauteeing
-A splash of gluten-free soy sauce if you have it
-Green onions and sesame seeds for sprinkling on top
These are probably the largest potatoes I've ever found in Japan: comfortably palm-sized, and like flattish oranges. Mostly they're very small, crappy, and overpriced. I took a picture because I also have no idea what they weigh; this amount of potato yielded 3 - 4 servings.
Simply peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks of roughly the same size, and boil them until they are soft enough for mashing, then drain the water and mash them in the same pot.
While they're boiling, sautee the diced onions and garlic in whatever oil or butter or butter substitute you prefer. I do olive oil.
Add the garlic and onions, salt and pepper, and a splash of gluten-free soy sauce if you're feeling frisky. Then add the katakuriko. Careful; it's a very fine powder, like cornstarch. In the past it was made of a certain species of lily bulb, but I guess it's just potato starch nowadays. Cool story, huh?
I use this big flat wooden spoon here to smush the potato and starch together.
It won't form a perfect pleasant ball magically on its own, but it definitely sticks together and changes a bit in consistency.
This is how much gouda you can buy from the supermarket in Japan.
It's like $2.50 a packet. Fork for scale.
The individual processed cheddar food product wedges worked a lot better.
Try to make sure the cheese is well in the middle of your potato ball, but don't worry if it splits and leaks out a bit. The pan is greased, afterall. And who doesn't like a bit of crispy cooked cheese on the edges?
(Except vegans I KNOW OK)
Here's what mine look like - they're pretty sizeable and make a good entree, but if you want to make medallions or whatever, have at it.
The ones above have thyme, green onion, and that sparsity of gouda, but they weren't nearly as good as the simpler ones with (simulated) cheddar and black pepper, which were also cooked in butter instead of olive oil. What can I say, man? Potatoes and cheese! Potatoes and butter! Arrrgh! It's tearing me up inside! It only happened once! You can prevent these residual feelings of guilt and cholesterol accumulation if you live in a country that has things like Earth Balance.
Press them down gently with a spatula but not too much, and fry lightly on low-medium heat until golden brown on both sides.
With steamed carrots and a Campari soda - doesn't get much cheaper and easier than this as far as home-cooked vegetarian meals go, especially when you've got that colander-steamer thingy from Ikea that conveniently sits on top of the pot you're boiling the potatoes in.
These are the cheddar ones, and obviously the spread is a lot better - served on a bed of baby lettuces with fried tofu and pickled greens and steamed shoestring veggies.