Bento filler: Vegan Japanese potato salad
It's time to get back my bento mojo! Here's a vegan version of Japanese potato salad, that is a great bento side dish, or the main carb in a salad bento.
When I think of potato salad, there's one that reigns supreme: Japanese style potato salad, which is usually made with tons of mayonnaise. But since I've lost a few pounds in the last week or so, I didn't want to derail that. So, here is a vegan version of Japanese style potato salad, which is rather lower in fat and uses a tofu 'mayo', which ups the protein. It is a variation on a recipe in a Japanese vegan cookbook that I've mentioned several times before on Just Bento and Just Hungry, _SaiSai Gohan_ (Vegetable Meals) by Yumiko Kano.
Here's my recipe for a traditional Japanese potato salad. This vegan version may look just like the traditional version, but it doesn't have the same very eggy flavor as the traditional kind of Japanese potato salad since well, it has no eggs in it. But it does have a satisfying creaminess and I think it's quite good.
This should ideally be made at least a few hours before you intend to eat it, since it needs to be cooled down. So making it the night before is ideal. It will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, but no more (the same as regular potato salad) so just make as much as you'll use up in a couple of bentos and a meal or so.
Recipe: Vegan Japanese-style potato salad
This makes 4 servings, at approximately 160 calories per serving.
- 3-4 medium to large boiling potatoes, totalling 1 lb/450g in weight after peeling
- 1 medium carrot, peeled
- 1/2 cucumber
- About 1/6th of a small onion
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
- Salt, pepper
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
The tofu "mayonnaise":
- 1/2 cup (120g, or about 4 ounces) firm tofu, well drained (drain out excess moisture by putting it between two plates for a few minutes)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar or lemon juice
- Pinch of sugar
Peel and cut the carrot in half and slice thinly. Peel the potatoes and cut into small chunks.
Add both to a pot and cover with cold water, add a little salt, and bring to a boil. Boil until the potatoes and carrots are tender - the cooking time depends on how big you cut them up. Test for doneness by tasting a piece.
In the meantime, seed the cucumber and slice thinly. Slice the onion thinly also. Put both into a small bowl, and sprinkle with a little salt, and massage with your hands so that moisture comes out of the slices and they become quite limp. Squeeze out excess moisture.
Drain the potatoes and carrot well. While still hot, put into a bowl and add the lemon juice, olive oil, mustard and a little salt and pepper. Mix well, and leave until cooled down to room temperature. Mix in the cucumber and onion.
Make the tofu "mayo": Put all the ingredients into a food processor (the 'baby food' bowl is great for this, if your food processor has one) and whiz until totally smooth. If you don't have a food processor, mash as finely as you can with a fork or your hands. Mix into the potato salad.
Cover and cool in the refrigerator.
This potato salad is delicious even without the tofu 'mayo'. You may want to season it a tad more at the stage where you add the lemon juice and olive oil. Try adding olives and capers for a very zesty non-creamy potato salad. The tofu 'mayo'-less version keeps a bit better, so may be a better choice in hot weather if you can't keep the salad somewhere cool, or pack it with an ice pack.
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