For the past week, I have been enthralled by Japanese Vegetarian Cooking by Patricia Richland. I resisted buying this book for a while because I already had The Art of Japanese Vegetarian Cooking and wasn’t very happy with it. It made Japanese food look so difficult and time-consuming to make that I began to think that any Japanese cookbook would be the same. But Richland’s book is completely different: The recipes are fairly simple, many requiring less than six ingredients, and they make good use of fresh vegetables. I keep going back through it and finding dishes I want to try, so you can expect to see many little Japanese vegetable dishes, such as this one, in the weeks to come.
Carrot Stick Bundles is a good example of the kind of simple vegetable side dish the book is full of. I actually tried to fancy this one up a little by adding ginger (I love the taste of ginger with carrots) but I don’t think it added much, so feel free to leave it out.
Carrot Stick Bundles Tied with Seaweed
- sheet of nori (seaweed)
- 3-4 large carrots
- fresh ginger, cut into 4 thin, quarter-sized slices
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1/4 tsp. sesame oil
- Cut the nori into eight 1/2-inch strips and set aside.
- Peel the carrots and cut them into matchsticks about 3-inches long. Combine the soy sauce, mirin, and sugar, and mix to combine.
- Heat the sesame oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, and stir-fry for about a minute. Add the carrot sticks and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Remove the ginger, and divide the carrots into 8 equal piles. Gather each pile into a bundle, arranging the carrot sticks side by side. Wrap a nori strip around the middle of each bundle. (I found it easiest to put the strip down on a plate, lay the carrot bundle near one end of the strip, tuck the end of the strip over the bundle, and roll the carrots toward the other end.)
- Place two bundles each on four serving plates, and serve drizzled with soy sauce or sesame oil.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 5 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4
I’ll admit that bundling the carrot sticks was trickier than I thought it’d be; my sticks were more slender than they should have been, so they turned out a little on the limp side. I used a mandolin to make them uniform, but they would have probably come out better if I had cut them with a knife. What I think I’ll do next time (and these were tasty, so there will be a next time) is skip the bundling and make little carrot “haystacks” with the nori cut fine and sprinkled on top. Unless I’m having company I want to impress!
Kid-Friendly Note: My daughter, who usually prefers her carrots raw, ate 3 of these and would have eaten more if we’d had any.