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Lunch Log: (Diet edition) Week 213 (and bonus recipe)

As good as very fresh peas are, I’ve not been adventurous as of late – lots of work and other real-life shenanigans. I’d like to put in effort into something like sushi but the availability of ingredients and cutting my rice intake is not helping; so it’s a slew of fairly easy items that barely need explaining (bar one).

July 17

Leftovers that was too much for me last night is perfectly sized for today. Lunch is 70g of rice with peas, chicken arrabbiata, steamed broccoli, radish and “Greek” salad.

I’ve been stingy in the feta due to supply and diet -__-

July 18

I don’t know if the diet change is working as I consider progress exceedingly slow. With this and my motivation leaving on a bus, I’m almost surprised I packed today. Lunch is spicy beef soboro, steamed broad beans and broccoli, rice with umeboshi, chilli bashed cucumber, tomato and shirataki yakisoba

July 19

Hung over was not my intention, but here I am, and this morning very little time to spare. So go away while I feel sorry for myself.. Lunch is noriben (spinach, peas and sesame; egg and takuan; hijiki with yukari and sesame), steamed broccoli, tomato and cucumber and wakame salad.

Screw it, I’m adding mayo to the broccoli #YOLO #veggieCard

July 20

I get to play the vegan card, but I wish I can cook something healthier (might not be compatible with being tasty though). Lunch is rice with yukari, picked radish, steamed broad beans, eggplant mapo tofu, steamed broccoli, steamed peas, tomato and quick pickled cucumber

Bonus notes: another take on a vegan mince, this time applied to mapo tofu that was packed on the Thursday.

Vegan Mapo Tofu

Vegan Mapo Tofu


  • 1 large eggplant
  • Texturized vegetable protein (TVP), or a 'protein grain mix' (eg: bulgur wheat, cracked soya & red quinoa)
  • Tofu (one tetra pack)
  • Chilli flakes or chopped dried chilli
  • Hot paprika
  • Sichuan peppercorns
  • Chinese five spice
  • Chinkiang vinegar (Chinese black vinegar) or Balsamic vinegar (depending on the vinegar, Balsamic might be more ideal if it's got more body)
  • Kombu and dried shiitake and/or veg for stock
  • Cloud-ear mushroom, reconstituted in water (optional)
  • Doubanjiang / Pixian Douban
  • Chilli oil
  • Garlic, minced
  • Ginger, minced
  • Cooking oil
  • Sake
  • Spring onion, sliced into fine rounds or fine on the diagonal. Separate the white bits from the greener bits.


  1. Make chilli oil if pre-made isn't available or not desired: heat some cooking oil to be hot but not smoking hot, then add chopped dried chilli, fresh chilli, chilli flakes or a combination of the three. Switch off the heat after a minute and allow to cool - the aim is to not burn the chilli. The longer the chilli is in the oil, the more it would infuse; when cool enough decant to be used in this dish and excess can be used as an ingredient or condiment.
  2. Prepare the tofu by wrapping it roughly in paper towels, place between 2 plates and put a weight on top to press the tofu to extract excess water - do not use something too heavy that would crush it completely!
  3. After washing the eggplant, use the direct flame from the stove (assuming gas) to char-cook the outside. Alternatively, use a BBQ to roast it whole and skip the next step; if charring is not done then the smokey richness this achieves would be missing in the final dish (ie: I do not recommend skipping this step!)
  4. If in the first step the internals of the eggplant are not cooked through, finish it off in an oven by wrapping it in foil and roasting for a few minutes in a 180° oven.
  5. Cool the eggplant until it can be handled then extract the flesh from the charred skin. Mince (doesn't have to be fine; using a knife would do).
  6. Meanwhile the eggplant is being cooked, if using TVP or the 'grain mix', create some dashi with kombu and shiitake to reconstitute it with (or use veggies for a veg stock). As with the packet instructions use this veg-based stock to fully cook out the TVP / 'grain mix'. Drain and set aside when cooked. Ensure that there is excess stock if possible.
  7. In a dry hot pan or wok, briefly toast the sichuan peppercorns then transfer to a pestle and mortar and crush (doesn't have to be completely into powder).
  8. In the same pan heat some oil then add the eggplant to try to remove more moisture. Add the reconstituted TVP / 'grain mix', the garlic, ginger and mix well. When slightly fragrant (the garlic should not be fully cooked yet) and the doubanjiang and mix for a few seconds. Add the remaining stock / water. Also add to this a splash of sake - the liquid should be enough to be at level with the sold matter. If you are using cloud-ear mushroom, slice into very thin strips - and dice the shiitake if using - and add the fungi to the mix.
  9. After the level of liquid has been slightly reduced add (more) chilli, hot paprika, Sichuan peppercorns and Chinese five spice. Adjust flavours with the addition of the vinegar, stock/water/sake. Add mirin or a touch of sugar if one must.
  10. After a few seconds post-mixing, chop up the tofu into desired sizes (bite-sized or smaller) and add to the cooking mixture along with the chilli oil. Mix carefully to avoid crumbing the tofu, if desired then also add the white part of the spring onion. Top up with water/stock to allow the tofu to absorb the spices and juices.
  11. When the desired liquid levels have been reached (the 'mince' should be moist but not necessarily be swimming in liquid) garnish with the green part of the spring onion.

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