All the recipes in Cooking with Soy are either vegan, or come with a vegan variation, and 95% of the recipes are gluten-free. Author Yoshiko Takeuchi has over 20 years’ experience as a chef, spending more than 16 of those teaching cooking classes.
Cooking with Soy serves up the opportunity for vegetarians and vegans to enjoy home-made Japanese-style food, without fear of fish flakes and other animal ingredients. The opening chapters introduce us to the soy family, various types of tofu and DIY tofu. Recipes for appetisers, sides, mains and desserts make up nearly 150 pages. The Japanese influence is strong but Takeuchi admits they stray from tradition.
Appetisers include fusion dishes such as silken tofu dips with olives and capers, avocado and lime, and Edamame Spread. There’s also a recipe for Agedashi Tofu (pictured on the cover) which I cooked recently. I had intended to make the Agedashi Tofu recipe from Luscious Vegetarian but the one in Cooking with Soy seemed simpler to prepare. I loved it and will make it again. Eating a simple, textural dish such as this one, with its lightly sweetened broth and slivers of spring onion, leaves me feeling very content.
I have also made the Kakiage Soba recipe; the original recipe is for udon but includes a soba variation. Soba always wins for me. This was another simple but satisfying, textural dish: crunchy kakiage (a type of tempura) served on top of soba noodles in a salty kombu broth. See the pictures below. I couldn’t find vegetarian dashi powder for the Agedashi Tofu or the Kakiage Soba so I soaked some kombu in water for a day and used that as the base. Click here for the Corn, Onion and Edamame Kakiage recipe.
The recipes range from simple and classic Asian flavours, such as Salt and Pepper Tofu, and Tofu Gyoza, to more creative fare, including Aburaage Samosas (samosa filling inside thin deep-fried tofu skins) and Crispy Tofu Sticks (a kind of long, skinny spring roll). Some ingredients may be difficult to source; one dish requires vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce but it can be a challenge to find one that doesn’t include animal-derived ingredients or MSG.
The dessert chapter serves up classic Western desserts alongside more traditional Japanese dishes. There are mousses, cakes and blancmange but it’s the elegant Tofu Shiratama Dango (a gelatinous dumpling) with black sesame and maple sauce that I’d like to make next.
For lovers of tofu, as well as the tofu-curious, this cookbook has a lot to offer. I did notice a few discrepancies in style (some ingredients are listed but not mentioned in the method) but overall Cooking with Soy is an inviting introduction to vegan and gluten-free Japanese cooking.