Two dishes today from The Manga Cookbook,a cute cookbook inspired by Japanese comic books and animation. If you like manga, anime, and bento boxes (and who doesn't?), this is the cookbook for you! The book is filled with cute manga-style drawings illustrating each recipe step-by-step. Even better, there are little notes on the history of these traditional Japanese dishes, how and when they are eaten, and even references to the manga where these foods appear.
The first recipe we have here is Naruto Roll: nori, tofurkey, and vegan cheese rolled together and cut into bite-sized pieces. Unfortunately, the vegan cheese I had (Tofutti slices) would not roll like the soft, creamy cheese pictured in the cookbook (looks like Velveeta to me). The vegan cheese crumbled and ripped, ruining the pretty roll effect. After throwing two rolls away and gritting my teeth in disgust, I finally figured out what to do: layer the nori, tofurkey, and cheese together on a cutting board with the cheese on top, then set the board under the broiler for just a few seconds, just long enough for the cheese to get soft. Roll away!
Next to the Naruto are Jyagatama -- potato salad balls. I had never in my life imagined making mashed potatoes mixed with cooked peas, corn, and carrots, seasoning it like a potato salad (Vegenaise, lemon juice, etc.) then rolling it into little balls. Could this possibly be good?
Next to the main dishes are steamed broccoli and green beans, with a happy apple food pick and a little soy sauce fish. And for dessert, a container of red watermelon and two Oreos.
Verdict: Potato salad balls? Phenomenally brilliant. Seriously, they were sooo good, all creamy and tangy and you can just pick them up and pop them in your mouth. Who knew?
The Naruto, on the other hand, was not such a hit. Shmoo ate one and then decided that as of today he no longer likes Tofutti. That was the only storebought vegan cheese he ever did like, so now we're down to none. Hey, it's okay by me -- I don't like it either!
He has fun squirting the soy sauce fish on his vegetables. "Oh no, the fish is going to throw up! [then in a fishy voice] 'It must be some bad shrimp I ate. Blecccgh!' " 4 stars.