R!CE FOOD DESIGNRiyo Yamamoto (food designer/traveling chef)
He specializes in creative spiced and vegan cuisine using organic vegetables.
In 2017, he founded R!CE FOOD DESIGN as a traveling chef, fusing food and space design and proposing enjoyable food experiences. Currently active in a wide range of activities including catering, food coordination, and food creation.
This is a Middle Eastern vegan dish made with mashed chickpeas that are fried and served with a sauce. Vegan cuisine is a cuisine that does not use animal ingredients (meat, fish, dairy products) and uses only vegetable ingredients. Originally, vegan cuisine was based on the concept of animal welfare.
Chickpeas tend to give the impression of having a bland taste, but this dish gives a different impression. In my opinion, falafel is the most delicious way to eat chickpeas.
Spiced Falafel ( Chickpea Croquettes )
Falafel (3-4 servings)
200 g chickpeas
1 clove garlic
Pinch of cumin seeds
2 small cilantro
1/2 parsley plant
15 g potato starch
1 teaspoon salt
A dash of pak choi
1 large unsweetened peanut butter
1 large cup soy milk yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
Rice oil Small amount
5 g lemon juice
How to cook
① Soak chickpeas in plenty of water for ½ to 1 day.
② Put 30% salt and water in a pot and cook chickpeas for about 30 minutes. (You can crush them with your fingers, but they should be pleasantly firm.)
③ Finely chop the onion, add a pinch of salt and saute in a frying pan over low to medium heat.
④In a food processor, coarsely chop the tender cooked chickpeas with the garlic, spices, roughly heated sauteed onion and salt in a food processor.
⑤Add the parsley and stir to mix further.
⑥Add potato starch and form into a tight ball with a spoon or your hands.
⑦Dust the formed seeds with potato starch and deep-fry them in oil at 180°C until quickly browned.
⑧Make tahini sauce. Knead the peanut butter with a little oil (rice oil) until soft and easy to knead. Then add the other ingredients and finally salt to taste.
⑨Add tahini sauce to the bowl, top with freshly fried falafel and garnish with pak choi.
Bean croquettes with spices and herbs.
This is a healthy and rich vegan dish. I made this dish to go well with white wine.
Make a tahini sauce to serve with the fried chickpeas as an accompaniment. Tahini sauce is made from white sesame paste, soy milk yogurt, and lemon juice. This time, peanut butter paste was used instead of white sesame paste.
Chickpeas are sold dried and will not return to their original state after boiling unless soaked in water. Chickpeas are sold boiled in water, but they are too soft and become soggy.Therefore, it is ideal to return the beans you have bought with water and cook them yourself. It is also important to keep in mind that boiling the beans over high heat will spoil their texture, so it is important to boil them while retaining the texture of the beans.
Harder beans are easier to control in texture, and if you want to keep the texture, you can crush the chickpeas with a pestle and mortar instead of a food processor and mix them with the ingredients, leaving the grains intact.
When frying, be careful about the amount of water contained in the ingredients. If the moisture content is too high, the temperature of the oil will be low and the ingredients will loosen in the oil.Originally, flour, egg, bread crumbs, etc. are dipped in flour and fried to prevent this, but this dish is deep-fried as is, so the key is to hold it so that the moisture is squeezed out when shaping it. You may add cornstarch or potato starch to keep the ingredients from separating.
How I became attracted to vegan cuisine
When I was in my previous position, I had the opportunity to visit the United States and went to Los Angeles. At that time, a friend took me to a vegan restaurant, which was a turning point in my life.
In Japan, vegan cuisine has the image of vegetarian food, with religious colors and stoicism. However, my impression of the restaurant was completely different from the image I had.
When you open the door, young men and women are dressed up, eating vegan food and enjoying conversation with drinks. The place is more like a casual tavern than a prestigious restaurant where course meals are served.And yet, they were wearing heels and enjoying their own fashionable and glamorous dinners. The scene was shocking to me and I was instantly drawn in. The food, the music, and the table-coordinated space. And so is the taste. I realized then for the first time that the food was delicious enough to be enjoyed without meat or fish.
My impression of vegan cuisine changed drastically after visiting that restaurant. From that experience, I came to think that I would like to propose my own lifestyle through the atmosphere of the meal and the food. This is also the reason why I started my current job.
We not only create the food, but also coordinate the space as well.
It is a cuisine that includes the atmosphere, the liveliness, and the people who gather there. In order for people to enjoy vegan cuisine, we thought deeply about "what kind of atmosphere they would like to eat in," "who they would like to eat with," and "what kind of conversation they would enjoy having there.I thought it would be best to create such a dining experience myself, so I got involved with Kitchen Hike (an on-site cooking service) and began hosting dinner parties not at my home, but in different locations such as a shared hotel and a vessel store.
"I'm going to tell people about the appeal of vegan cuisine in my own way, through my own filter."
Day by day, we tried to figure out how to output the excitement we felt in Los Angeles.
Making vegan food tastier and more fashionable.
Yet in Japan, vegan cuisine still has an entrenched image of being "tasteless," like vegetarian food. How can we change this image?
First of all, we want to convey the idea of "deliciousness. We use dry foods to add texture, fry them to give them a savory flavor, and use unusual ingredients. You can be as creative as you like in your cooking.Spices are like bouillon in Western cooking and dashi in Japanese cooking. They add depth and dimension to a dish. There are many types of tastes, such as sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami, which are added or subtracted depending on the ingredients and cooking method to balance the flavors. By controlling them with spices, we express depth.
Spices also work well with vegetables, turning vegetable dishes into very deep flavors. Even if bouillon is not used, just adding spices can enhance the flavor. If you are creative, you can also express the flavor of junk food. To change the image of existing vegan cuisine, impactful flavors are helpful.Customers say, "I never knew vegan food could be so flavorful," or "How can it taste so good without meat or fish?" It is not uncommon to receive such a positive response.
For example, the tahini sauce made in this dish was originally made with white sesame paste, but that makes the sauce taste thin and gentle. By substituting peanut butter paste, the richness of the sauce is increased.We wanted our guests to enjoy the marriage with white wine, so we made such an arrangement.
We will try to make vegan food enjoyable as a companion to beverages as well. We believe it is important to give our customers more choices. This will lead to expressing new values of "vegan cuisine.
What I want to convey as a food designer and traveling chef
Someone once gave me a copy of Crazy Wedding founder Saki Yamakawa's book, "The Work of Creating Happiness. It was exactly the world I had pictured in my mind.
"I want to work to create happiness."
I want to bring happiness to everyone through food experiences and the richness of everyday life in my own way. It is with this desire that I started my current job.
I" as a food designer and "I" as a traveling chef are the same "I". The only difference is whether the food experience is at home or outside. With a little ingenuity, the dining space can be more enjoyable.Food does not choose the place. I would like to continue to convey the message that table coordination can make everyday dining more enjoyable by creating the right atmosphere.