Veganising Japanese Cuisine

vegan japanese cuisineVeganising Japanese Cuisine – easy mistakes to avoid!

A common error that many vegans in Japan make, is believing that japanese soup stocks are vegan. Although dishes like ramen, udon, and miso soup may seem vegan or vegetarian because they have no meat or dairy inside, what is actually the case 99% of the time is that the soup, known as “dashi” in japanese, is actually made with fish, pork, or beef. Looking at a bowl of miso soup with some seaweed, tofu, and spring onions, it’s hard to see how it isn’t vegan but dashi in miso soup and udon is made with bonito flakes. Similarly, ramen soup bases are usually either pork or beef based. It is on top of this base that flavourings such as miso and soy sauce are added.

vegan japanese cuisine

Finding vegan options is difficult, yet not impossible! A common substitute is using a broth made from shiitake mushroom, and kombu (kelp). These vegan options can be found at buddhist restaurants. In fact, “shijin ryori” is the name of traditional dining amongst Buddhist monks in Japan. Alternatively, these soup bases can be made at home if you know how to properly prepare the kombu and shiitake! It is also possible to buy instant stock powder at japanese supermarkets by looking for “kombu dashi”. Though these tend to have msg, they are a quick alternative to preparing your stock from scratch. For anybody interested, I have a youtube channel called “Kuro Neko Kitchen” which shows you how easy veganising japanese cuisine can be, so feel free to check it out!