Over the years I’ve slowly and steadily decreased my meat and dairy consumption, but about two months ago I made a decision to temporarily take it down to almost nil. What started out as a brief experiment is becoming more permanent. I’ve become what my friend Penny once called a “vaguean” meaning, I’m vegan until Andy buys prosciutto and sopressata or a wedge of gooey Camembert. Charcuterie and cheese are two things I could never really give up.
While this way of eating wouldn’t appeal to everyone, it’s really working for me now. I’ve never felt better and once you find a way of living that makes you feel good, it’s hard to go back.
I’ve made it my mission to cook and eat better than ever, and so with meat and dairy off the table, I’ve had to stretch and grow as a cook. Part of the fun of this process has been surprising people with incredible food they don’t even realize is vegan.
As I delve deeper into veganism, I’m eating more Asian, a cuisine that naturally leans plant-based, whole food. I’ve made everything from summer rolls and sushi bowls to onigiri and vegetable dumplings. It’s especially appealing because while the ingredients skew light and lean, they’re also full of flavor – fresh herbs and seasonings and lots of zingy sauces, dips, and fillings. I’d eat just about anything that calls for sesame oil.
I made this sushi bowl for dinner the other night. Instead of assembling and serving, I laid out all the components and let Andy make his own, which he loved. Of course he took more than his fair share of avocado (his favorite), but he told me that this tofu was the very best I had ever made. And I love that because this recipe uses tofu and not raw meat, the marinade can double as the dressing.
You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy this recipe. You won’t miss the meat. I promise.
Make-Your-Own Sushi Bowl
The base of this recipe is the rice, tofu, and marinade, though you could use other proteins, such as shrimp or cubed chicken breasts. If so, double the marinade, discarding the half you use for the meat and serve the remaining half as the dressing. Change the vegetables to reflect the season.
1/4 cup each: vegetable broth and soy sauce
1 tablespoon each: toasted sesame oil and rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons each: minced garlic and ginger
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 block (14 ounces) extra-firm tofu, drained, patted dry, cut into 1- by 2-inch cubes
1 cup sushi rice
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1/2 pound green vegetable of your choice, such as broccoli, green beans, sugar snap or snow peas, or asparagus
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, mint, cilantro or a mix
2 sheets nori, cut into thin strips (optional)
Mix broth, soy sauce, oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes in a small bowl. Place tofu in a zipper-lock bag; pour in sauce, seal and let marinate until ready to fry.
Meanwhile, following package instructions cook sushi rice in a medium saucepan; let stand, covered, until ready to serve.
Place edamame, green vegetable of choice, and 1/2 cup water in a large covered skillet. Turn burner on high and steam, making sure water does not completely evaporate, until vegetable is bright green and tender crisp, about 5 minutes.
Return skillet to burner and add oil; heat until wisps of smoke start to rise from the pan. Remove tofu from the bag and drain on a paper towel, reserving marinade for dressing. Add tofu to skillet; cook, turning only once, until impressively brown on both sides, about 6 minutes total.
Spoon a portion of rice on each plate, arrange tofu, steamed vegetables, and avocado, sprinkle with scallions, herbs and nori and drizzle of the reserved marinade. Serve!