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Vegan Unadon! (New & Improved Recipe!)

November 5, 2010

Hi all!

A little while back, I shared with you all my first foray in creating a vegan version of the Japanese dish known as unadon (traditionally, marinated eel slices over rice). That first try went fairly well, but I had some trouble perfecting the rice component. Well, today I’m here to share with you my new and improved unadon recipe, with “rice” that matches the excellence of the “eel”. The key I found was that I was thinking about the rice component all wrong; instead of trying to add things to increase the flavor of the rice, what I should’ve been doing was starting with a whole other grain from the start. And hey, if I was subbing out eel for eggplant, why not sub out the rice for some heartier and tastier grain? Well, that’s exactly what I did, and it turns out that buckwheat works incredibly well as a complement to this eggplant—not to mention that it’s healthier besides! Here, then, is my finalized vegan Unadon recipe, complete with lots of helpful pictures!

Part One: The “Eel” (makes three to four servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • some olive oil, salt, and pepper for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or Bragg’s
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425F. Slice eggplant into eel-shaped slices: about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, and about 1 by 3 inches length- and widthwise (see picture). Lay out eggplant slices on a baking sheet, drizzle with some olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until it looks done. Once cooled, place eggplant in a flat container.

While the eggplant is cooling, make the kabanaki sauce. Simply bring the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar to a boil and simmer gently until slightly thickened. Let it cool a bit, and then pour over the eggplant, which should now be in its container. From here, you can either let the eggplant marinate overnight if you have the time, or you can proceed to make the buckwheat and eat it right away. (Recipe for this kabanaki sauce comes courtesy of Nook & Pantry.)

Part Two: The “Rice” (makes one serving)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried buckwheat
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or Bragg’s
  • 1 tsp kelp granules (or any other seaweed variety)
  • 1 tbsp dulse flakes (or any other seaweed variety)
  • 2 sheets dried nori (like the ones pictured below)

Instructions

1.   Bring buckwheat and water to a boil, lower heat, and then simmer until all water has evaporated and buckwheat is cooked through (between 15 and 20 minutes). Let cool and then transfer to a serving bowl.

2.   Add in dulse flakes, kelp granules, and soy sauce. (I only chose these seaweed varieties because they were what I had on hand. I imagine that any other type of seaweed would work just as well.)

3.   Mix all of that together.

4.   Take out your nori sheets, which should look something like this:

5.   With scissors, cut up one sheet into fine strips on top of the buckwheat mixture.

6.   Add 5 or 6 slices of eggplant on top of that. If eggplant is not still warm, heat it up to eating temperature in the microwave or toaster oven.

7.   Finally, top off that with another sheet of sliced nori. And you’re done!

This is all around a pretty easy recipe, but it is mighty satisfying: both tasty and filling! I hope you all get to enjoy the wonders of unadon soon yourselves. And if you do, be sure to let me know; I’d love to hear how other people find the recipe!

Until we eat again,

Willie

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