Come onnnnnn weekend. I ate a lot of cookies last night. Let’s face plant into a bowl of vegetables.
Sarah B. recently talked about how a hit of acid (not that kind you fuh-reak!) is necessary in every dish. I—pause please while I shovel another pile of pickled vegetables into my mouth—couldn’t agree more. Tanginess in addition to crunchiness makes carrots 898237x more interesting. The number two reason I’m obsessing over these bibimbap-inspired bowls is because of the pickled vegetables. The number one is the rice.
While in Austin with my mom and sister last month, I showed them my favorite Austin restaurant which serves up these enormous, colorful bowls of vegetables that typically top a base of the most extraordinarily tasty rice. It is heads and shoulders above any other rice I’ve eaten before. I think I figured out how they do it and luckily for us, it’s simple: a good slick of toasty sesame oil and salt.
I make no claim that these are authentic bibimbap. Bibimbap-inspired bowls would be a more appropriate name for these, but that was just too long. Lazy bibimbap-inspired bowls would have been best, because instead of any kind of proper sauce, I just dash fish sauce (try this vegan fish sauce!) and sweet soy sauce all over this before stuffing my face. Pickled vegetables add so much flavor that just a few sprinkles of sauce is enough for a great-tasting bowl.
Anyway, these are just vehicles to stuff really yummy, flavorful vegetable combinations in your face. I hope you like them. Now weekend, get your cute little butt over here.
Vegan Bibimbap Bowls
- 1.5 cups brown rice
- drizzle of sesame oil
- generous pinch of salt
- 1 cup hot water
- ½ cup rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2-4 carrots julienned
- 1 large daikon julienned
- 1 clove garlic sliced
- red pepper flakes
- ½ to 1 head of kale leaves torn off and rinsed
- 1 block firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 cucumber sliced
- 1 avocado sliced
- 1 red bell pepper julienned
- 2 cups red cabbage shredded
- Vegan fish sauce or fish sauce if not vegan
- Sweet soy sauce
- Make the rice: Set the rice on to cook if you haven’t done so (this is best with fresh rice, not leftover). Once fully cooked and warm, drizzle with sesame oil (I do about 1 tablespoon per cup of cooked rice or so) and add salt to taste.
- Make the pickles: In a bowl, combine the water, vinegar, sugar and salt until sugar dissolves. Add the carrots and daikon and set aside at room temperature for at least one hour. These will keep, refrigerated, for at least a couple of weeks.
- Prep the tofu: While carrots are pickling, start marinating the tofu. Slice your tofu into approximately 16 thin slices. Combine the soy sauce and ginger in a shallow pan or a bowl and coat the tofu in the marinade. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.
- Make the kale: In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic is golden. Add the kale and sauté until kale is wilted. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Make the tofu: In the same skillet, fry the tofu slices in a bit of sesame oil over medium-high heat until browned on both sides.
- Assembly: Over a bed of rice, layer the pickled vegetables, kale, tofu, cucumber, avocado, etc. Douse fish sauce and sweet soy sauce over the top and consume voraciously. (Not vegan alert: a soft egg over all this is also delicious.)