Let me introduce you to one of my favorite dinners. I’ve realized over the last few months that I’ve become obsessed with foods that call for toppings, lots and lots of toppings…
There’s something really fun about these types of meals. Chili is obviously the prime example, especially with the Super Bowl coming up. Everyone gets to have their own big, hearty bowl of chili and throw on as much sour cream, green onions, cilantro, cornbread (if that’s your thing), and cheese as their heart desires. Each bowl ends up tasting a bit different, but that’s what makes the meal special.
This Asian-inspired tofu bowl is one of those types of meals. It starts with a base of sushi rice, followed by your choice of stir-fried veggies, and then topped with my favorite grilled tofu. And many, many toppings!
I’ve been making this version of this dish for a while now. In the past, I’ve just grabbed my ingredients, eyeballed everything, and literally thrown it into a bowl. Since that method is unhelpful for anyone but me, I took the time to measure everything the other day, so I could share the recipe with all of my internet friends –> however many that may be.
Tofu is not everyone’s favorite food—I know—but I actually cook it quite often, despite the fact that I’m not vegetarian. This is primarily because it’s a really affordable form of protein and I try not to eat a lot of meat, for budgetary and other reasons (which I will not bore you with).
The trick to tofu is two-fold. The first being that tofu is essentially flavorless and it needs to be aggressively seasoned (in this case, with a strong marinade). Second, you need to appreciate it for what it is…not what it is not.
Tofu tastes like…tofu. Let’s call a spade, a spade. It’s not chicken, insert-other-meat-here, mozzarella (come now, people), or anything else.
And now that my little sound bite is over, let’s get started!
Traditional Asian food has it all—sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and bitter elements—which is why I tend to crave it constantly. This tofu marinade incorporates a lot of these flavors.
You’ll need creamy (unsalted) peanut butter, lots of soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, garlic, fresh ginger, red pepper flakes, and a bit of oil. Since fresh cilantro is one of the garnishes, I also throw in a bunch of the stems as well.
Confession: I’m very impatient and loathe the process of pressing tofu traditionally, which usually calls for grabbing a very random assortment of heavy objects and carefully balancing them on top of each other. I’ve broken things that way.
I’ve come to realize that simply slicing the tofu, placing it on a thick layer of paper towels (followed by another layer of paper towels) and pressing down several times with your hands tends to be sufficient. Then, simply place the slices in a gallon-size Ziploc bag, pour in the marinade, swish it around a bit, and let it marinade in the fridge for several hours—the more, the merrier.
- Cold beer
- Sushi rice
- Stir-fried vegetables (I usually do a mixture of onions, bell pepper, carrots, and cabbage—a very easy option is to use a combination pre-bagged broccoli slaw and shredded cabbage from Trader Joe’s)
- Soy Sauce
- Lime Wedges
- Crushed, Unsalted Peanuts (buy whole peanuts and pulse in food processor a few times)
- Sriracha (optional)
- Green Onions, finely sliced
- Fresh cilantro
My biggest request is not to skimp out on any of the toppings! Squeeze on lots of lime juice, add a handful of crushed peanuts, grab some green onions, and cilantro…they really take the dish to the next level.
As always, enjoy!