While I consider myself an adventurous eater — I’ll try just about anything once — I do not posses that same sense of adventure when it comes to cooking in my own kitchen. More often than not I find myself drawn to “safe” recipes and ingredients; chilis, pesto, pasta, a whole chicken roasted to perfection in my slow cooker. So these simple, sushi-inspired rice bowls made for an exotic weeknight dinner at our house.
While sushi is not exactly exotic by any stretch of the imagination (in Toronto you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an all-you-can-eat sushi joint or three), these are simply not flavours I’ve ever been drawn to when cooking. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the Asian flavour profile, quite the opposite — but if I’m honest, it probably has more to do with fear. I’m comfortable with pasta and cheese and chicken, so that’s what I find myself cooking time and again.
I bought Super Natural Cooking on a whim. Desperate to find some new kitchen inspiration, I decided to pick-up the Tartine Bread cookbook, thinking I could be inspired by bread. If I wasn’t inspired by the staff of life, I was done for. On my way to the cash I spotted Super Natural Cooking out of the corner of my eye, and when I picked it up the pages fell open to the Sushi Bowl recipe. As it turned out, nori and brown rice vinegar turned out to be just the inspiration I needed. I’ve made this meal way more times than I’ve made bread so far (it’s about 3-0, to date).
These bowls make for a simple, light weeknight dinner and are equally delicious cold from the office fridge the next day. While slicing the avocado and tofu as I have here made for a beautiful photograph, I’ve found that bite-sized chunks are actually easier to eat and enjoy.
Adapted from Super Natural Cooking
2 cups short-grain brown rice
3 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt (I prefer fine-grain sea salt)
6 ounces extra-firm tofu
zest and juice of one orange
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I like tamari)
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
4 green onions, sliced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced or diced as you like it
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Toasted nori, chopped or crumbled, to taste.
1. Rinse rice until water runs clear. Combine rice, water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently under water is absorbed, about 45 minutes.
2. While the rice cooks, toast a sheet of nori in a pre-heated 300F oven. Chop with a sharp knife or crumble between your fingers. Set aside.
3. Drain tofu and pat dry. Cut the block to make four 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick sheets. Cook in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until it starts to pick-up some colour, about 4 minutes. Flip, then cook for another 2 minutes until golden. Let cool, then cut into matchsticks or chunks. Set aside.
4. To make the dressing, combine juice and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes, then add the soy sauce and vinegar. Return to a gentle boil and cook another 1 or 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the zests.
5. When the rice is done, stir in dressing. Serve in individual bowls, topped with nori, green onions, tofu, avocado and sesame seeds.