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bowls, recipes

Sushi Bowl

Hello blogland!

Today I’ve got a few things to share, including a rice bowl modeled after the one from my favorite restaurant in the city, 13th Ave Coffee House.  But first, I want to share a few brag-worthy photos from my Saturday at Saskatoon’s comic convention.  And finally, I have some news-type stuff to talk to you guys about, which I’d love your input on.  So let’s get to it!

First of all, when one is at a comic convention full of people cosplaying it up, decked out to the nines in their awesome nerdiness, there’s bound to be some awesomely nerdy vendors too.  If you can tell me what my pin is from (the black pig), I will be your best friend.

But the best part is that nyan cat scarf.  A scarf!  With nyan cat!  I’m sad his cute face gets cut off, but you get the idea.  This actually gives me a reason to look forward to winter this year.

And even more awesomely, check out the guy in the middle (framed by two super-cool people):

That’s right, dudes – Billy West.  You know, the guy who does voices for Futurama characters like Fry, the professor, Zoidberg (not a word I’ve ever had to spell) and Zap Brannigan.  And lots of other cool stuff like Ren and Stimpy, too.  The random guy in the back photo-bombing is also a nice touch.  Billy’s a really down-to-earth guy, actually, and made fun of me for my heavy purse because it attacked him.  I wish I could say that I engaged him with clever witticisms, but mostly I just went “hee hee”, being star-struck and all.

So my weekend was pretty much perfect.  And then I had a kitchen disaster which I’m too ashamed to talk about, so instead, I’ll share my kitchen success instead – a sushi bowl.

You know me, I love them bowls.  Rice, fresh and crunchy veggies, tofu (in this one, anyway), and a creamy dressing?  Hard to go wrong there.  This particular bowl is reminiscent of a sushi roll – the wasabi dressing packs a punch (but not a painful one – promise), and the bowl is topped with cut-up nori and pickled ginger. And you know you’ve made something hella tasty when you’re daydreaming about leftovers.

Sushi Bowl
Serves 2


Ingredients:

2 cups cooked brown rice (sushi rice would be yum, too)
1/2 block firm tofu, cubed and cooked the way you like it (I pan-fried them with soy sauce)
1 heaping cup cucumber, sliced in semi-circles
1 cup shredded carrot
1 small red bell pepper
1-2 sheets nori, cut in skinny strips (if you lurve nori like me, use 2)
Pickled ginger, for serving (about 1 tablespoon each)
Gomasio or toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional but worth it)

Wasabi Dressing:

6 oz soft silken tofu (1/2 a tetra pack)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon prepared wasabi paste (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon agave or sugar
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1. Prepare the dressing: combine all the ingredients in a little blender and blend.  That’s it!  Taste it to adjust the wasabi potency, because the strength varies from brand to brand.

2. Assemble the bowl: in each bowl, layer 1 cup of rice, 1/2 of the tofu, and 4 tablespoons of the sauce, followed by half the cucumber, carrot and red bell pepper.  Garnish with the nori, pickled ginger and gomasio, if using.  And don’t fear the nori being all crunchy – once it gets mixed in with everything, it softens right up.

That’s it!

The wasabi punch of this bowl is definitely prominent but not crazy.  Every now and then I’d take a bite that cleared out my sinuses, but for the most part it’s pretty non-offensive, and has a great flavor to boot.  Oh yeah, and because of the tofu usage in both the sauce and the layering, this is a protein-heavy meal.  If you’re not into that, substitute the tofu cubes with something else or omit them entirely…but come on.  Tofu cubes are freakin’ delicious.

And now I need your help!

For the last several months, I’ve been working on a cooking project – specifically, I’ve been compiling a cute little cookbook about bowls.  You know, those rice bowls I’m in love with.  And noodle bowls, too!  I intend to keep it fairly short and will probably have no more than 25 recipes, many of which are already in development.  To keep costs to a minimum, I plan on releasing the book in electronic formats, like as an e-book and for e-readers.  And I plan on completing this project by the end of September.

What would be awesome is if you could let me know what you’d really like to see in a book about bowls – is there a rice or noodle bowl that you’re head-over-heels for and would really like to see?  Are you looking for soy-free, gluten-free, etc kind of recipes?  What about recipes for preparing important bowl components like tofu, seitan and beans?  Do you prefer recipes that serve 4, or 2?  I have about a million questions and I’d love any and all input you have to offer, and in the coming months I’ll keep you posted on the happenings and we can talk about it more.

Thank you!  I’m super excited about this project – there are a lot of gems (like this sushi bowl!) that I can’t wait to share. πŸ™‚

bowls, recipes, salad

Tabouleh

Tabouleh is the answer to “What the hell do I do with that giant-ass bag of parsley languishing in my fridge?”

I’ve embellished the original version of Tabouleh by adding some kidney beans and avocado (kind of like the parsley-free tabouleh I made a while back) to make this grain and herb salad meal-sized, since oftentimes I’m only in the mood to make one big bowl of goodness, as opposed to a whole bunch of dishes, which then creates a whole bunch of dishes in my sink.  One-bowl meals all the way!

Tabouleh
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup dried bulgur
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups cooked kidney beans
1 generous cup diced cucumber
1 cup minced fresh parsley
3 medium tomatoes, chopped (canned and drained work fine)
Flesh from 1 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4-1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Directions:

1.  In a medium saucepan, bring the bulgur and water to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the bulgur is tender.  Set aside to cool.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the cooked bulgur with all of the other ingredients and stir well to combine.  The Tabouleh will taste really good right after it’s made, but it’ll get even better once the flavors have time to get to know each other for an hour or more.  This makes a light meal all unto itself, but can be enjoyed with hummus, fresh veggies and bread or pita for maximum awesome.  Nom.

If you’re not going to be eating the entire recipe in a day, don’t add the avocado until you serve it.  Brown avocado is sad.

Oh!  You guys should check out my new and awesome banner, made by Logan.  Isn’t it ridiculously adorable?  Cuteness overload!

bowls, mains, recipes

Jerusalem Bowl

The other day when I was rambling about bowl meals, I started craving them a ton, so I’ve been having pretty much daily bowl parties.  Even yesterday when I was at work all day, I got a rice bowl from 13th Ave. Coffee House, which is the epitome of awesome vegan food in my city.

One bowl that 13th Ave. has on the menu is called the “Jerusalem Bowl”, which is a bowl with brown rice, falafel, hummus, veggies and a tahini sauce.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?  It is.  It’s probably one of my favorite bowls on their menu, though I would never be able to choose.

When you’re throwing together a fast lunch, though, falafels are a little time-consuming to make, and I don’t always have hummus kicking around the house.  So I simplified and deconstructed the Jerusalem Bowl a little bit so that it can be thrown together in about 15 minutes (assuming you have cooked brown rice and chickpeas).  Even if you don’t, cooking beans and rice is very easy and requires minimal hands-on time, so I’d still consider this a fast meal.

Jerusalem Bowl
Serves 4

For the tahini sauce:

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon tahini
1/4 cup water
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon agave
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes, or more to taste

For the bowl:

4 cups cooked brown rice
1 1/3 cup cooked chickpeas (approximately 1 can)
1 heaping cup chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup clover or alfalfa sprouts
Hot sauce for serving, optional

Directions:

1.  Make the tahini sauce:  Combine all sauce ingredients in a small blender and blend until smooth.  Alternately, you can whisk the sauce vigorously with a fork.

2.  To assemble the bowl:  For each serving, scoop 1 cup of brown rice into a bowl, followed by 1/3 cup chickpeas and 3 tablespoons of the tahini sauce.  Top the bowl off with 1/4 cup each of cucumber, tomato, carrot and sprouts, sprinkle on some hot sauce if you want, and enjoy!

Each serving of this Jerusalem Bowl is approximately 475 calories, which is hearty and meal-sized, and will keep me satiated throughout the day.  Logan naturally tends to eat slightly larger portions than I do since his caloric needs are a little higher, seeing as he’s larger than me and has a man appetite.  But for an average person with a daily caloric requirement of around 2,000 calories like myself, this is the perfect-sized meal.

Holy crap, you guys – only one more day of MoFo!  It always flies by in a crazy whirlwind of fun and excitement, though I’m definitely looking forward to taking a small blogging break when it’s all over and done with.  I was thinking about taking 2 weeks off, but I doubt I’ll be able to stay away that long without wanting to talk about food!

And congrats to all of you who have posted every day (or almost!) during this month – it’s definitely no easy feat to accomplish that.  I hope you’re planning on giving yourself some sort of grand reward for the effort. πŸ™‚

bowls, Menus, recipes

Bowls, Bowls, Bowls!

Rice bowls are my mainstay meal when I have no idea what to cook, and when I desire something fresh and healthy that doesn’t take a long time to make.  I can spend 20 minutes in the kitchen and prepare enough food to last the day, while still being sure that it’s nourishing, filling, and veggie-full.
A bowl of Bibimbap, my favorite rice bowl of all time.  This Korean fave has a really thick and spicy sauce and is topped with an assortment of prepared veggies and tofu.

Another great thing about rice bowls (or bowls with any grain base) is that they fit in very well with standardized food guides, which typically advocate a lot of vegetables and grains, and moderate to conservative portions of protein and fat.

This Tabouleh-Inspired Salad Bowl is a balanced meal, chock-full of nutritious goodies like kidney beans, bulgur wheat, avocado, and fresh herbs and vegetables.



For a big, filling bowl that will keep me going for hours, I typically start with a base of around a cup of rice, sometimes more depending on my appetite.  I’ll use an approximately equal amount of fresh vegetables which are almost always prepared raw, partly for convenience but also for a great crunchy texture that happily contrasts the soft chewy rice.  And, you know, raw veggies are pretty much the healthiest thing you can and should consume.

Though I don’t find adding a “protein” to these bowls necessary from a nutritional standpoint since there’s plenty of protein to be found in the rice, sauce and veggies, I do like adding it for satiety’s sake.  Foods like chickpeas or tempeh contain plenty of calories, so including them will give you a bowl that’s more likely to keep you full for longer – and I don’t know about you guys, but I strongly dislike getting hungry at 3pm, because then I snack incessantly, and snacks are seldom as nutritious as the real meal.  
Middle Eastern Bowl with creamy tahini sauce, chickpeas, kale, olives, avocado and fresh veggies.

The final step to an awesome bowl is to dress it in a great-tasting sauce.  My favorite sauces are creamy ones like tahini for an Eastern flair or peanut for an Asian-esque bowl.  Oil-based sauces and vinaigrettes are solid choices for lighter bowls, like a simple teriyaki or ginger lime dressing.  Another favorite is to dress the bowl with salsa, hot sauce and guacamole, as I never tire of bold Mexican flavors.  Creamy and comforting dressings like cashew-based alfredo or ranch are always welcome, especially with some barbeque tofu.  Mmmm…

And of course, you’re never limited to just rice!  All kinds of bases are possible, and they don’t just have to be grains, either – starchy vegetables like potatoes and winter squashes can all form the foundation of a hearty meal, and let’s not forget pasta and noodles!  If you want to omit starch and grains entirely, there isn’t anything wrong with a bowl of zucchini noodles, or cauliflower “rice”, or even just a pile of leafy greens.  

A Mexican-style potato bowl, topped with salsa, guacamole, romaine and bacon bits.

Wholesome buckwheat soba noodles form the base of this fresh stir-fry, except in this case nothing has been fried.  Sunflower sprouts are a simple topping that amplifies the gorgeousness of this meal.

There’s no saying you’re limited to using an actual bowl, either – as the above and below meals attest, all of the components of a bowl can be spread out on a plate for a beautiful appearance.

A Vietnamese-style rice bowl, with simple ingredients spread out in a unique manner for some healthy eye candy.  Little changes in a meals’ aesthetics makes a huge difference in how much you desire to eat it.

They say that we eat with our eyes, and I believe it to the core.  Fresh and colorful vegetables are the most visually appealing foods on the planet, and making a rice bowl loaded with them is a treat for your senses and taste buds.  I can’t think of a single time I’ve sat down to one of these rice bowls and said “meh”.  They just look too darn beautiful, and their substance is just as fantastic as their surface appeal.

Rice bowls, man.  Do it up!

bowls, recipes, salad

Tabouleh-Inspired Salad

Whoa, it’s Tuesday!

Today we were supposed to be experiencing a winter storm, but apparently it’s sidestepped my city this time. Phew! It’s still windy and icky out, though.
The past couple of days, I’ve been house-sitting for my parents, which means I have an abundance of space, freedom and privacy. I love it! And when I’m all by my lonesome, working hard on various projects, I tend to gravitate toward simple, fresh food. I want my meals to be energizing, not draining, so I can keep being productive without getting all tired and slack!
That’s where this tabouleh-inspired salad comes from. I call it tabouleh-inspired because I had no parsley in my fridge, which is a main ingredient of traditional tabouleh. I also included some very non-traditional elements, like kidney beans and avocado. I’d break tradition all the time, though, if the outcome is always this good. When I sat down to eat my bowl, I brought out a bottle of hot sauce, because that’s how I roll. Then, after I polished off the bowl, I realized I hadn’t used the hot sauce at all! You know your meal is awesome when you forget about hot sauce. πŸ™‚

Tabouleh-Inspired Salad
2 very large or 4 small servings

Ingredients:

1 c. bulgur

2 and Β½ c. water

1 19-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 tomatoes, diced

2 small cucumbers, diced (about 1 heaping c.)

1 avocado, diced

ΒΌ c. freshly-squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp minced dill (about half a bunch)

2 tbsp minced mint (4-6 stalks)

Β½ tsp cinnamon

Β½ tsp salt

1/8 tsp allspice

Directions:

  1. Combine the bulgur and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until cooked. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  2. In a large bowl (or the pot you cooked the bulgur in), combine the cooked bulgur and the rest of the ingredients. Stir well. If you plan on saving some for later, keep the avocado and tomato separate, since the avocado will brown and the tomato will loose its crispness.
Gather all of your ingredients…

The carrots were just there for munching purposes – not part of the recipe. πŸ™‚
Then, perform some kitchen magic, and voila! A happy, hearty, healthy bowl!
This was so yummy and refreshing! It was also my first time ever cooking with bulgur. I hear about all of these neat looking grains, but I just never get around to trying them. I’ve got brown rice and quinoa, why would I want more? But curiosity sometimes gets the best of me, and I’m really glad I tried bulgur. It’s got a pleasant flavor and a nice, slightly chewy texture that I could totally get into. Plus, it’s awesome budget food.
Well I’m off to write some music! Peace out for now! πŸ™‚
bowls, recipes

Super Fresh Bibimbap

One thing Logan and I tend to do, as we sit at the lunch table and chow down on our yummy, typically healthy vegan food, is talk about vegan food and animals. Go figure, hey? πŸ™‚

Our conversation today landed on how Logan’s high school once had a midieval day, which involved dressing all old-school and having a traditional pig roast, among other things. Logan spent his entire life being more or less uncomfortable eating animals, and he talked about how barbaric it seemed, and how happy he is, in retrospect, that he didn’t partake in the pig-eating.

After telling me how greasy and unappetizing the pig flesh looked, our discussion wandered into how bland meat is unless it’s highly seasoned and salted. Logan recalled the experience of eating roast beef, remembering how dry and flavorless it was unless it was smothered in gravy. I remembered a piano student I had once, a vegetarian from birth, and his story about accidentally being served meat in a wrap. He took a bite, chewed, and then realized he had eaten chicken. His initial observation was how bland and tasteless it was, and he wondered why people seemed to be so interested in consuming that particular animal. He told me despite his lifelong abstinance from meat, he had no desire to eat it. Why bother when there were so many flavorful plant foods to choose from?

It’s interesting that carnivores and the vast majority of omnivores have taste buds on their tongues that respond to the amino acids in meat, but not us humans. We can taste carbohydrates and salt, but not meat. So my former piano student eating chicken in a wrap might find the taste bland and flavorless, but to a cat, there would be plenty of flavor. Like Logan said, trying to imagine that taste would be like trying to imagine a new color.

Meat tends to be comfort food for a lot of people, but not for us. One meal that we find particulary comfort-foody is bibimbap, a yummy, spicy Korean rice bowl!

Bibimbap has everything going for it, though – fresh veggies, brown rice, tofu, super spicy red paste (gochujang)…My vegan versions of this classic Korean dish might not be completely authentic (since there’s no meat or fried egg), but it’s hella tasty and no animals had to be used and abused in the making of it – all good things in my mind.

The original bibimbap I made was this:

Rice (you can’t see it but it’s there!), blanched mung beans, sauteed zucchini, marinated tofu, steamed spinach, shredded carrot, gochujang paste and toasted sesame seeds. It’s hard to beat this stellar combo.

Alas, the contents of my fridge vary week to week, depending on what I get delivered in my organic produce box and what looks pretty in the grocery store. Today I found myself wanting bibimbap something fierce, but I had no zucchini, spinach or mung sprouts. So I improvised!

In order to cut the prep time and maximize freshness (and nutrients!), I prepared all of the vegetables (except the asparagus) raw. This made for easier clean-up and less dirty pots to clean!

Super Fresh Bibimbap

Ingredients:

-Enough brown rice for 4 people

-(1) 1 block of tofu, cubed and marinated in 1 tbsp soy sauce for an hour

-(2) 2 carrots, shredded and tossed with 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil

-(3) 1/2 head kale, chopped and massaged with 1/2 tbsp oil and 1/4 tsp salt to wilt the leaves

-(4) 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends discarded, chopped and sauteed with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper for 5-10 minutes

-(5) 1 cucumber, thinly sliced (I used a mandoline)

-2 tbsp sesame seeds

-(6) 1 recipe of gochujang sauce (follow the recipe here)
Directions:

1. Prepare the tofu and set aside to marinate. In a bowl, combine the carrots and sesame oil and set aside. Massage the kale in a medium bowl and set aside. Sautee the asparagus and set aside. Place the thinly sliced cucumber in a separate bowl and set aside. These are all of your little bibimbap components!

2. In an oven preheated to 375 F, warm the marinated tofu for about 10 minutes. This is optional but I prefer warm tofu over cold. Put the sesame seeds on a dry baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning them!
3. Prepare the gochujang sauce using some of the sesame seeds you just toasted in the oven.

4. Assemble! Start with a portion of brown rice, then layer on the tofu, carrots, kale, asparagus and cucumber. Top it off with a dollop of the gochujang sauce and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

Then, stir that pretty presentation into delicious disarray!

Yummers. I purchase my gochujang, the red paste, at a Korean grocery store here. It’s what makes bibimbap truly awesome, so if you have access to it, definitely pick some up. A word of caution, though: this paste is spicy! If you’re a spice wimp, this might not be the dish for you. It’s a well-rounded spicy flavor, though, and I love it!
So we’re headed into the weekend now, and my number one priority is to sleep! I want to get rid of this cold I’ve got by the time Monday rolls around, so I can conquer my work week without being all lame and pathetic.
bowls, recipes

Simplified Bibimbap

Greetings and such!

Whatever part of the world you folks reside in, be very, very glad that you’re not here. Factoring in the windchill, the HIGH today was -35 C. That’s the high in Regina today. Same with tomorrow. I’m California dreamin’…

Today I attempted to make a Vietnamese meatball soup, and failed terribly. Not on flavor, mind you – the flavor was awesome. But my little veggie meat balls didn’t hold together very well, so it’s back to the drawing board. Luckily, I had plenty of this to eat with it:

Bibimbap!

Rice bowls are clearly our current choice of food, seeing is how yesterday we filled our bellies with our Mexican-inspired Fiesta Bowl! Bibimbap is truly awesome, though. If you’ve got a Korean grocery store handy, or a well-stocked Asian grocery store, you’ll likely find gochujang, the defining hot red sauce of bibimbap.

Bibimbap can be a little bit of effort to assemble since it can have many components (“mini-salads”), so what I often do is just prepare all of the veggies raw – it takes far less time than cooking them! Today we simply shredded some carrot, massaged baby bok choy with sesame oil and salt to wilt the leaves, sliced some cucumber with a mandoline, and topped off the rice, sauce and veggies with sprouts and sesame seeds. Super easy and delicious!
Now I’m off to teach some music and anticipate the advent of a very, very cold Friday!
Peace! πŸ™‚

bowls, recipes

Fiesta Bowl!

So it’s Wednesday, one of my favorite days of the week! Not only do I have a lineup of fairly awesome piano students to teach, but I get to pick up my box of organic goodies! It’s like Christmas, each and every week.
I’ve been spending a lot of time writing (currently about vitamin D), which means I don’t particularly feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Thus I’ve been making a lot of really simple and nutritious meals that require very little fuss.
Today I present one of my favorite simple meals – the esteemed rice bowl. Rice bowls are what I consider the epitome of healthy fast food. Well…45 minutes of brown rice cookage isn’t exactly fast, but it’s so easy it might as well be.
When we eat rice bowls, we follow a very simple formula – brown rice, a high-protein food, chopped raw veggies and a sauce. To unify all of the components, we typically opt for some sort of ethnic theme – a Chinese or Korean rice bowl, perhaps, or in the case of this post, a Mexican rice bowl!
Our favorite restaurant here in Regina, 13th Ave Coffee House, was the inspiration for this particular rice bowl. It’s called the “Fiesta Bowl”, and it’s composed of brown rice, a red sauce, black bean salsa, and it’s topped with shredded lettuce and tomatoes, or whatever fresh veggies are handy. A pleasantly large dollop of guacamole rests on top of this creation, with a side of fresh salsa and sour cream (alas, the sour cream is not vegan).
Well, sometimes I want to eat something awesome without spending time assembling a black bean salsa, or a fresh salsa. So I simplified the whole equation, and while it might not be as magical as the original Fiesta Bowl, my version is still damn tasty and satisfying.
Fiesta Bowl
Serves 4 generously
4 cups cooked brown rice (about 2 cups dry)
1 cup prepared salsa, or more to taste
1 19-oz can black beans (or 2 and 1/2 cooked)
1 cup frozen corn
1-2 avocados (about 1/2 an avocado per person)
1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
Pinch salt
For the veggies:
Romaine lettuce, shredded (about 1 cup)
2 tomatoes, chopped (I didn’t have any this time, so I used cucumbers)
2 carrots, shredded
(Other vegetable options are shredded purple cabbage, red bell peppers, steamed broccoli, or whatever you’ve got in your fridge!)
Directions:
1. If you haven’t already, cook the brown rice. Set aside.
2. Rinse and drain the black beans. Add them to a medium microwave-safe bowl and add the corn. Zap in the microwave for 3 minutes or so, until everything is nice and hot. Set aside.
3. Peel and pit the avocado(s). If there’s only two of you eating, just use one avocado. Guacamole should always be prepared fresh, or else it goes brown! In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the lime juice (1 tbsp per avocado, or more to taste) and the salt. Set aside.
4. Chop, slice and dice the veggies so they’re ready for mass assembly.
To assemble:
Grab a big bowl and scoop in some rice.
Scoop on the black beans and corn.
Add a layer of prepared salsa.
Add the veggies.
Top with a big dollop of guacamole, as well as vegan sour cream if you happen to have any handy. I also added a few sprinkles of a Mexican hot sauce because that’s how I roll.
Then, enjoy!

I think Logan and I could live off Mexican-esque food, though we’d probably experience occasional pangs of longing for Asian food. But still. So good and hearty.
Now I’m back to do some more writing! πŸ™‚

Peace!

bowls, recipes

Bibimbap (Korean Rice Bowl)!

Bibimbap! Bibimbap! Is there a word more fun to say? Aside from hootenanny, of course.

Basically, Bibimbap is composed of rice, topped with, well, pretty much whatever the hell you want, but often cooked spinach, carrot, mushrooms, meat (or if you’re cool, tofu), cucumber, zucchini…anything you want. The most awesome part, however, is that none of the toppings are served plain – each one is like a little mini-salad with a few basic flavorings, which is what makes this rice dish so awesome. That, and the gochujang, a Korean hot sauce – it really makes the entire dish, and I don’t feel it would be bibimbap without it. Not that I’m a bibimbap connoisseur or anything, but still, it totally makes it. We have a little Korean store here and that’s where I found it, and I haven’t seen it around anywhere else, but some Asian grocers probably have it.
After looking at recipes for bibimbap for 15 minutes and collecting ideas, I said, “screw it, I’m just gonna wing this.” That’s the kind of meal it is. And aside from the fact that there are many individually prepared toppings, each one took me maybe 5 minutes (or less), so it’s pretty fast to whip together. The thing that took the longest was baking the tofu, but if you already have tofu prepared, or some sort of vegan beef concoction, then you’re golden.

A note on bibimbap: it’s usually served with a fried egg on top, but it tastes really awesome without eggs – probably even better.

Bibimbap

Ingredients:
-enough rice for 4 people (I used jasmine this time, but I usually use brown rice)

A) Gochujang sauce recipe – I used this one
B) Stir-fried zucchini
C) Baked tofu
D) Steamed spinach
E) Toasted sesame seeds
F) Shredded carrot
G) Mung bean sprouts
A) Make as directed. Since I don’t have a mortar and pestle, I pulsed the sesame seeds a few times in my coffee grinder.
B) Stir-fried zucchini
Thinly slice 1 medium zucchini (I used a mandolin), mince some garlic (I used 3 cloves) and stir-fry in a little oil until the zucchini softens, about five minutes. After it was done cooking, I added a bit of mirin to give the zucchini more flavor but use whatever you’d like! Do what’cha want!
C) Baked tofu
Start this first, since you can leave it in the oven while you do the other stuff. I cubed a block of tofu and marinated it in a shallow dish with about 2 tbsp soy sauce for 15 minutes – enough soy sauce to cover it all, but leaving little to no excess liquid. Crank the oven to 375 degrees F and leave it in there for a while, about half an hour, stirring the pieces halfway through so they brown evenly.
D) Steamed spinach
Wash 1 bunch of spinach, and steam until wilted, 2-3 minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture and season with soy sauce and mirin to taste.
E) Toasted sesame seeds
Throw some white sesame seeds (about 2 tablespoons – see Susan V’s recipe) onto a dry baking sheet and bake until they’re nice and golden, stirring a couple times. This took me less than 10 minutes. Set aside – you’ll use some as garnish, and some will go in the gochujang sauce.
F) grate 2 medium carrots, and put in a bowl with a drizzle of sesame oil.
G) boil 1 bag of mung bean sprouts (a lot, probably 4 cups worth) for a couple of minutes and then put in a colander to drain. After it’s cooled a little, add a little toasted sesame oil and salt.
There you go! Now grab your rice, and assemble like so:

Voila! Bibimbap! If you’re a spice wimp (like me), be careful about loading on too much sauce. A little goes a long way, as it is really spicy!

See you guys on Monday for another week of MoFo’ing!

bowls, recipes

Veggie-Based Cheese Sauce

There are many, many reasons to make this cheese sauce.

1) It’s delicious – delicious as in, eat it straight-up with a spoon delicious. This is an obvious requirement.

2) There is NO nutritional yeast in this recipe, which is perfect for the nooch hater in your life (*cough* Logan), or someone who’s new to veganism and isn’t armed with all of our standard kitchen stuff.

3) No oil. The original recipe(s) call for some type of oil, but I always omit it with great results. There IS fat from the wee little amount of cashews in this recipe, but c’mon, don’t be harsh to the cashew.

4) Fast. It takes about 20 minutes from the time you start choppin’ to the time you blend and eat with a spoon. And you reap a decent amount of sauce for this recipe, about 2 cups worth.

5) It’s versatile! These are some of the ways we’ve enjoyed this sauce:

Other things I’ve done with this sauce that I haven’t pictured are:
-pizza ‘cheese’
-a sauce for asparagus (still haven’t tried it with broccoli but I KNOW it would be awesome!)
-a salad dressing (I know, I know. It was really good, though.) and a sauce for romaine wraps
-cheesy potatoes
I’m sure there are a zillion other things you could do with this, too. Now, if these reasons haven’t compelled you to make this sauce, then nothing will. Let me tell you, though, I didn’t think it would be that special when I glanced at the ingredient list. It’s mostly just vegetables with a little bit of seasoning. Please don’t let that deter you. Just trust me when I say that you will LOVE this.
I wish I could call this recipe my own, but alas, I use Ricki’s recipe as a guideline (her recipe was based on this one). The only changes I’ve made are:
-plain water, not vegetable broth
-no coconut oil
-no extra garlic
-no cayenne (since I don’t have any for some reason)
I’m going to post my changes here, but I strongly urge you to check out her recipe, because then you can also discover her beet pepperoni (for pizza, of course), which is AMAZING.
The Best Cheese Sauce

1c water
1 med onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, cut in chunks
1 large/2 small carrots, cut in chunks
1 medium potato, peeled and cut in chunks
1/4c raw cashews
1/2 tsp salt, to taste
1/2 tsp yellow mustard powder
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
Put the water, onion, garlic, carrots and potato into a small saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer, covered, until everything is tender, usually 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetable chunks. When soft, drain the veggies but save the liquid!
While that’s on the stove, throw all of the remaining ingredients into your blender and give it a quick spin to de-chunkify the cashews. Add the drained veggies, and just enough of the cooking liquid to get your concoction to the right consistency – I usually use 1/2 c or less. Blend! You’ll need to scrape down the sides a few times so everything gets nice and smooth. Don’t add too much water, because you want the sauce to be thick! Just use enough to help it along in your blender. That’s it! Now you have delicious sauce that you can use in many ways! πŸ™‚