Vegan Shiitake Mushroom Onigiri

on monday my copy of veganomicon finally arrived! i was so excited i brought it to the coffeeshop to read while waiting for a friend. i ended up making the so-talked about chickpea cutlets, which are basically seasoned chickpea-gluten patties that hold their shape ridiculously well and have a really nice chewy texture. they definitely live up to all the excitemAent they generated amongst testers, and are a great base for a nice sauce (though maybe a little too dry to have in a plainer version…this, however, might be from my lower-fat cooking method). i opted for the baked version, which made it more chewy than the pan-frying option. for lack of sauce i topped it with herb cream cheeze and harissa:

Vegan Shiitake Mushroom Onigiri

it became sort of a random dinner, since i’d wanted to try making vegan onigiri after getting a a bento box for her upcoming birthday. for those of you who don’t know, onigiri is a japanese (usually sushi) rice ball surrounding a savory filling. i’d never eaten one before, much less made one, but i’m pretty happy with the results of my first attempt. i sauteed shiitake mushrooms and green cabbage with some sesame oil, garlic, onion, ginger, cayenne and ponzu sauce, and made way too much for the amount of rice i prepared. but it made a nice bed for the onigiri, which i rolled in black sesame seeds. below are the steps i used, though you can make whatever filling you’d like–you’ll only need a few tablespoons per rice ball, and the idea, traditionally, is to use whatever it is you have on hand (keeping in mind that the rice is rather bland, so the filling should be strongly flavored).

chickpea cutlets, vegan onigiri, and a fall salad

ginger-y shiitake mushroom onigiri (makes 2 onigiri):

1 c sushi rice
2 1/4 c water
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 clove ginger, pressed
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp onion, minced
cayenne, to taste
large handful shiitake mushrooms
1 c green cabbage, shredded
2-3 tablespoons ponzu, or tamari

black sesame seeds, for garnish

cook rice and keep warm. while rice is cooking, prepare the filling. heat the sesame oil in a skillet and fry the onions, garlic, ginger, and cayenne until softened. add mushrooms and cabbage and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. add ponzu sauce, cook an additional minute or two, and remove from heat.

place a square of plastic wrap inside a small bowl, and sprinkle some sesame seeds onto a plate. scoop a little less than half of the rice into the bottom of the bowl, spoon a few tablespoons of the filling into the center of the rice, then cover with a tablespoon or two more of the rice. bring the edges of the plastic wrap together and twist to form a ball out of the rice, making sure the filling is inside, and pressing firmly between your cupped hands to make sure it sticks together well. unwrap and roll the ball in sesame seeds. repeat with remaining rice.

i started cooking last week at work (instead of doing customer service), and it’s really been inspiring me to cook more and more at home even though it’s what i do for a job. i think it’s really helping me work faster, multitask, and get new ideas (even though i don’t get to prepare a whole lot of vegan foods). i decided to make one of my favorite autumnal salads, based on a very similar one we have at the co-op–roasted yam and poblano salad:

chickpea cutlets, vegan onigiri, and a fall salad Recipe

because i can’t remember the measurements, i’ll just give a basic recipe outline. first, i peeled and diced a couple yams, tossed them in some olive oil, garlic, cumin, and chile powder, and roasted them in the oven until soft. i also roasted a few poblano peppers and pepitas until the peppers were tender but still a bit crunchy. after the veggies cooled a bit, i dumped them and a can of black beans, some frozen corn, and some lime juice, salt, and more chili powder and cumin into a bowl and tossed them up a bit.

then i ate some for lunch, with a leftover chickpea cutlet!