In a rush? Of course you are.
That’s why I wrote Great Bowls of Food, to make it easier to get some really whole, really good food on the table in minutes.
Call it a Buddha Bowl, a Power Bowl, a Gratitude Bowl, the bowl is a way of piling up a bunch of interesting food that all works together. And it can be really fast and easy.
To illustrate just how easy it is to make a bowl, I put together this one, following my craving for some funky kimchi and spicy Gochujang. For those of you leaning away from grains (not me, I love them) I made my sweet potato “rice” for the base. That’s probably the only fussy thing about this, I had to cut a sweet potato in little cubes and steam them for about 2 minutes. If you just can’t face the knife work in that process, just cook some brown rice, or whatever whole grain you have handy.
This one could fall into the category of “paleo-vegan” because of the sweet potatoes, and the hefty pile of protein on top. Unless you are a paleo originalist and you think beans are off the table, and you need to skip the bit of honey or agave in the dressing. I tried. It’s gluten-free and vegan, if that works for you.
For everybody else, this is a nifty pile up of sweets and sours and spicies, and you can take bite after bite to find contrast and complement in equal measure.
Start to finish, this quick recipe takes about 15 minutes, if you are a fast chopper.
This Kimchi Tofu bowl illustrates one of the secrets to making simple foods delicious. It helps to lean heavily on deeply flavorful fermented foods. Kimchi- check! Fermented, salty, full of way more complexity than a bit of cabbage and carrots could ever have without the help of lactobacilli. Gochujang-check! Fermented soy is the basis for this hot sauce, which is sweet, hot and funky in equal measure. Tamari-check! Fermented soy gives tamari a deep, meaty umami that carries it beyond just a salty sauce.
(I’ve used Gochujang in other fun recipes)
Another principle of making simple bowls interesting is to use lots of colors and textures. The soft, orange sweet potato cubes play nicely with the slightly chewy texture of the extra-firm tofu, which is bathed in a reddish orange glaze. Crunchy red cabbage adds purple, and creamy green avocados pop visually, while adding a rich, savory element.
So think inside the bowl, and make yourself a sustaining and easy meal.
Kim Chi Tofu Sweet Potato Bowl
If you want to use grain as a base instead of sweet potatoes, cook about 1/2 cup grain to get about 1 1/2-2 cups cooked grain. I used really firm, uncooked tofu, for a soft but chewy element. If you want to take a little time to sprinkle the cubes with tamari and bake them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, they will be a little firmer and have crispy edges.
2 cups diced sweet potatoes (about 1 large garnet yam)
For the sauce
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup honey or agave (omit for pure low-carb)
2 tablespoons Gochujang
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
For the bowl
8 ounces extra firm tofu (I used Wildwood)
1/4 cup kimchi, packed
2 tablespoons kim chi juice
1 teaspoon Gochujang
1 teaspoon tamari
1/2 cup slivered red cabbage
1 large avocado
First, dice the sweet potato by slicing it in long, 1/4-1/3 inch wide slabs. Stack half of them on the cutting board and slice lengthwise into long sticks, then turn the stack so that you can chop into small cubes. Pile them into a steamer.
Bring the water in the bottom of the steamer or pot to a boil, then place the steamer in the pot and cover. Steam for about 2 minutes, until a paring knife inserted in a cube meets no resistance.
Let the sweet potato cubes cool.
Make the sauce by whisking the tamari, honey or agave, Gochujang, rice vinegar and ginger in a cup.
Cube the tofu and place in a medium bowl. Chop the kimchi finely. In a cup, stir the kimchi juice, gochujang and tamari, then stir in the kimchi. Pour over the tofu and stir gently to coat.
To serve, cover the bottom of two wide bowls with sweet potato. Arrange half of the tofu on top, then compose the red cabbage and avocado alongside. Drizzle with sauce. Serve immediately.