Lukas Volger is a vegetarian cookbook author I have long admired, ever since he reversed my veggie burger cynicism with his 2010 cookbook, Veggie Burgers Every Which Way. He is a master at creating attractive vegetarian and vegan meals that are put together with a light hand but that fill you up.
This is certainly the case with his latest book, Bowl. The book's subtitle, "Vegetarian Recipes for Ramen, Pho, Bibimbap, Dumplings, and Other One-Dish Meals," pretty well defines the breakdown of the chapters, with many pleasing, bright variations on each theme.
His dumpling-bowl chapter offers over a dozen recipes for vegetarian dumplings and open-faced shumai, followed by an array of vehicles for them: wonton or miso soup, stir-fried rice, grain bowls, green salads dressed with honey soy vinaigrette.
I would happily top the stir-fried bok choy and rice with spicy carrot dumplings.
With some exceptions, the palate here is decidedly Asian, true to the origins of many of these bowls. The book provides us with a pantry of Asian ingredients, both store-bought and homemade.
Volger knows just when to pump up the flavor of a quiet mixture of noodles or grains and vegetables, be it with a spicy Korean fermented chili paste, an Indonesian garlic chili paste, a sweet and spicy Japanese chili-infused oil, a quickly fermented kimchee or pounded ginger pulp.
For Roasted Vegetable Bibimbap, squash, shiitakes and broccoli rabe are roasted in a mix of soy, chili paste, sugar and oil. It's a dish, like many others in the book, that uses condiments to great effect, a hallmark of Volger's cooking.