This simple dish is unimaginably good, and I can imagine some pretty good things. It’s origins are in Japanese temple cuisine and it is just one example that showcases how incredibly satisfying and flavorful vegetarian food can be. The Japanese monks and nuns that originated this type of cooking, called shojin ryori, did not eat anything that could consciously try to avoid being eaten, such as animals. As a result of this restriction, they developed a cuisine that is highly dependent on wild plants, seasonal vegetables, and of course, soy products.
To those skeptics out there, this type of cooking is very different from the type of food that is typically associated with western vegetarian or vegan cooking. There is no attempt in this cuisine to recreate a meat-like effect using plant products. No veggie burgers or Tofurkey to be found here. Instead, these are direct formulations that are devoid of some of the forced, strained, or desperate feeling that I get when I look at recipes from a lot of the western vegetarian/vegan movement. I admit that I have a strong bias against a bunch of the crap food that has come out of folks trying to be vegetarians in America. I am sympathetic to the desire for people to do as their conscience (or health) dictates, but a lot of it seems forced. If you don’t like eating meat, stop trying to recreate it in soy and gluten….