Rice Bowl + Tofu + Saucy Sauce

It’s all about the saucy sauce.

Rice Bowl + Tofu + Saucy Sauce (8)

This is really a simple recipe. Barely a recipe, actually. Make some rice. Steam some veg. Buy some tofu. And mix it all together with a swanky, saucy sauce.

Rice Bowl + Tofu + Saucy Sauce (4)

I have a pretty well-stocked Asian pantry these days. Gochujang and miso are staples in my fridge, and I have both light and dark soy sauces in the cupboard. Usually, whipping up a little Asian-inspired sauce for things isn’t challenging. But if you don’t want to go through all the trouble of sourcing every single bottle available in the Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese grocery stores, my staples are a nice soy sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil. I use a lot of rice wine vinegar, but other acids work well (lime, for instance). Mirin is another nice thing to have but I can easily do without. Fish sauce on the other hand… it’s hard to replicate that flavor. Just don’t smell it and you’ll be fine.

Rice Bowl + Tofu + Saucy Sauce (1)

This recipe has some specialty items from the Asian grocery store, but feel free to swap in any other mushroom for the buna shimeji or tarragon for the perilla leaves. We make rice bowls a lot and they’re pretty versatile – truly a kitchen-sink kind of dish if there ever was one.

Rice Bowl + Tofu + Saucy Sauce

The last note here is about the tofu. Get the good stuff or make your own. Sometimes I’ll use a super firm tofu in rice bowls, but this one uses a creamy, silken tofu. The custard-y texture is a nice contrast against crunchy vegetables.

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Rice Bowls + Tofu + Saucy Sauce

1 cup brown basmati rice, cooked according to package directions
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small bunch broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
1 avocado, sliced
buna shimeji or other mushrooms, roughly chopped if needed

1 package silken tofu

1 clove garlic, smashed in a mortar & pestle with a bit of salt
1 teaspoon white or black sesame seeds, smashed in a mortar & pestle
1 fresh red chile, finely minced
1-inch nob of ginger, finely minced
1 green onion, finely sliced on the bias
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp dark soy sauce (or tamari or Liquid Aminos)
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp rice wine vinegar (or other acid like lime juice)
2 tsp water

1 green onion, finely sliced on the bias
2 perilla leaves, rolled and finely sliced
a few extra slices of red chiles

Making the bowls is easy enough: prepare the rice according to the package. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and steam or blanch them for 1-2 minutes. You want them still snappy. Combine the rice, veggies, and avocado in a big bowl. Dole out individual portions in smaller bowls or on plates.

For the mushrooms, I had a bit of this handy douban oil from this recipe on hand (except made with gochujang and coconut oil), so I quickly pan-fried them in that for about 2 minutes. If you don’t have chile oil on hand, just fry them in any other high-smoking-point oil. The key to mushrooms: fry them on high heat. Otherwise, they’ll release moisture and you’ll steam them. Top individual portions with mushrooms.

Slice the tofu into 1/2-inch long pieces – kind of like thin bricks. Place a slice on each individual portion.

For the sauce, toss everything into a jar or deep bowl and shake or whisk vigorously. Pour over individual servings to taste, and top each bowl with the green onions, perilla leaves, and red chiles.

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Pan-Fried Cauliflower + Shishito Peppers + Marinated Olives

Eric and I just returned from a whirlwind, week-long trip through Texas. With stops in Austin, El Paso, and San Antonio, we managed to cover a lot of ground. One thing I learned in Texas: I can eat tacos every. single. day. So many tacos. We even tried San Antonio’s famous puffy taco. But now that we’re home, it’s time to detox and eat some vegetables.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Shishito Peppers (5)

I went a little overboard at the grocery store when we got back and bought nearly every single vegetable in the produce aisle. I had to take stock yesterday of what we had in the fridge and come up with a plan to use it all. First stop: pan-roasted cauliflower with many good things on top.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Shishito Peppers (6)

In other news, Eric and I were talking the other day about this whole gluten debate after watching this Jimmy Kimmel clip revealing the absurdity of the gluten-free trend. As always needs to be said, this absurdity does not extend to those who have celiac disease. Nonetheless, all this talk about gluten got me thinking about what a wonderful community of bacteria and enzymes I have in my gut. I am literally tolerant of everything. I eat street food in the most exotic of destinations, and I can eat anything under the sun that my little heart desires – without consequences. When I see the problems that others have with their guts, I realize how lucky I am with my little community in there.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Shishito Peppers (4)

So, this recipe. We’ve got cauliflower, of course, but also shishito peppers (shishito peppers!!), radishes, red chiles, and even garlic scapes (garlic scapes!!). Shishito peppers are one of those foods… you know the ones… if I see it on a menu, I have to order it. If I see it at Joong Boo, I have to buy it. Same goes for garlic scapes, garlic chives, ramps, or any other iteration of garlic or its family members. Thus, put these things together and you get a real winner.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Shishito Peppers (2)

Pan-Fried Cauliflower + Shishito Peppers + Marinated Olives

For the marinated olives:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced into thick chunks
1/4 cup garlic scapes, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
4-5 pieces of shaved lemon peel
7-8 sprigs of fresh thyme or 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1/2 cup castelvetrano olives (or any other variety)

For the rest:

2 fresh red chiles, finely sliced
1 small head cauliflower, sliced
15ish shishito peppers, or more or less according to your liking
handful chopped, roasted peanuts
5-6 radishes, finely sliced
juice of 1 lemon
salt + pepper to taste

To make the marinated olives, combine the olive oil, garlic, scapes, lemon peel, and fresh herbs in a large pan over medium-low heat. Let the oil warm and infuse the flavors for ~5 minutes. Add the olives, stirring to coat them. Turn off the heat and transfer the olives and oil to a jar or other container. You can keep all the flavoring ingredients in the mix if that’s easier.

Without washing the pan, turn the heat to medium-high heat and combine the chiles, cauliflower, and shishito peppers in the pan. Add more of the flavored olive oil if needed. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and allow the cauliflower and peppers to cook until the cauliflower is browned and the shishito peppers are blistered. When this happens, turn off the heat, top with radishes, peanuts, a bunch of marinated olives and fresh lemon juice. Taste and adjust for seasoning and serve.