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Japanese vegan meals | modoki ryori

What’s modoki ryori?

Modoki ryori [もどき料理] refers to meals which makes use of plant-based components to imitate the looks, style and texture of meat-based dishes. Any such dishes are frequent in shojin ryori [精進料理, Buddhist Cuisine] they usually have additionally achieved a sure mainstream reputation because of the well being issue of consuming vegetable-rich meals. Therefore, as we speak there are lots of eating places specialising in serving shojin ryori impressed meals.


Buddhism arrived in Japan within the sixth century and within the thirteenth century modoki ryori originated as a part of the temple meals eaten by Japanese Zen Buddhist monks. It was the chief of the Zen Buddhist Soto college, Dogen,  who took initiative for the event of the delicacies in Japan after having been impressed by related practices in China. Buddhism doesn’t enable the killing of animals for meals, therefore the monks developed a plant-based* weight-reduction plan. This weight-reduction plan is in Japan generally generally known as shojin ryori and incorporates modoki ryori strategies into the cooking to supply nutritious and wholesome meat-free meals. 

*Nearly all of shojin ryori dishes don’t include milk or eggs, however as these components are simpler to seek out as we speak in comparison with the previous, there could also be dishes containing both or each. 

Vegan unajyu (grilled eel) ready utilizing modoki ryori strategies, clear soup and pickles. 


Modoki ryori-style dishes originating in shojin ryori are sometimes easy. Nonetheless, whereas the dishes themselves can look easy on the plate, the preparation and processing occasions may be time-consuming, e.g. fermentation processes, making soybean curd and drying completely different components (this was very true prior to now when a better quantity of handbook labour was required). 

A shojin ryori meal is put along with a sure stability in thoughts. A meal usually has: 

5 colors: white, black, yellow, inexperienced and purple. 

The deal with utilizing a number of completely different colors can also be a great way to make sure that you’re consuming a wide range of plant-based components that every add to the dietary stability of the meal.

5 tastes: salty, bitter, bitter, candy and umami.

Dishes are additionally ready in 5 alternative ways: steamed, fried, grilled, boiled and uncooked. 

According to the deal with the quantity 5, the meal may additionally consist of 5 plates: rice, soup and three completely different facet dishes. Nonetheless, you’ll typically discover meals with extra dishes than 5. There are additionally components that are prevented on account of their robust scent, so referred to as gokun, reminiscent of garlic and onion. 

The components used are often seasonal. For instance, within the autumn you’re more likely to discover kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) on the plate, whereas within the Spring that is unlikely for the reason that pumpkin is out of season. Therefore, a shojin ryori meal ready within the spring will look completely different from a meal ready within the autumn. 

Shojin ryori adopts a no waste coverage. Quite than throwing away left-over components they’re saved and used for an additional goal. 

Generally used substitutes

  • Tofu – ready in a wide range of methods, reminiscent of baked, fried boiled or plain uncooked) with cold and hot choices. 
  • Mushrooms – each dried and recent. Dried shiitake mushrooms are sometimes utilized in dashi (soup inventory) and the recent ones are for instance sautéed. 
  • Seaweed – provides that further ocean style to dishes made to imitate seafood, but additionally utilized in different non-seafood dishes, reminiscent of ganmodoki which is a psuedo-goose sort of dish. 

Examples of dishes and components

  • Vegetable tempura [野菜の天ぷら] – battered and deep-fried greens.
  • Vegan unajyu [うな重] – made by utilizing modoki ryori strategies to imitate the style, texture and look of eel. Precise components used could differ (go to our Youtube channel for an eggplant and nori-based vegan grilled “eel” recipe).
  • Gomadofu [ごま豆腐] – sesame tofu. This submit by Sarah Hodge teaches you extra about this scrumptious and fashionable shojin ryori dish (there’s additionally a recipe to attempt at dwelling!).
  • Ganmodoki [がんもどき] – fried tofu fritter. Ganmodoki is made to imitate the style of goose and in addition accommodates seaweed and greens, reminiscent of carrot or lotus root. 
  • Tsukemono [漬物] – Japanese pickled greens. 
  • Koyadofu [高野豆腐] – frozen-dried tofu and a conventional product of Mt. Koya. The Soyinfo Heart tells you all in regards to the historical past of this explicit sort of tofu, and soy normally. 
  • Konnyaku [こんにゃく] – Konjac in English. The feel is a bit like gelatine and by itself it doesn’t have a lot style. 
  • Natto [納豆] – fermented soybeans. Very sticky and has a powerful scent. Common breakfast meals on a mattress of rice. 

Goma dofu (sesame tofu)

Gomadofu (Picture by Sarah Hodge)

sweet potato and pumpkin tempura

Candy potato and kabocha (Japanese pumpkin)

Try this weblog submit by guestblogger Eiko Azumano to be taught extra about Japanese vegan cooking components and veganism in Japan.

If you’re all in favour of studying extra about shojin ryori, our guestblogger and shojin ryori fanatic Sarah Hodge has you lined with this introduction to shojin ryori and ideas for studying extra/ attending a shojin ryori cooking lesson. 

The submit Japanese vegan meals | modoki ryori first appeared on BentoYa Cooking.

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