I’ve mentioned this glorious, virtuous, satisfying bowl before, when I posted a distinctly different tahini recipe here, but I felt it only fair to flesh out the masterpiece that sent me into the land of tahini in the first place (and made my first jaunt into vegetarianism more tolerable).
When I lived in Nelson in the ’90s, a Japanese eatery called the Rice Bowl, was on the west side of Ward St. at the back of a gallery space. It was basically just a small open kitchen with a cash register and a long handmade wooden bar. They did a truly booming take-out business but if the bar was overflowing with eat-in clientele there were a few tables set up in a dry goods storage room off to the right and down a few stairs.
Each morning the owner, a big, quiet red-headed man (occasionally barefoot), could be seen walking down Baker St. to the Kootenay Co-op to buy his organics for the day, swaying with the weight of his bags back to his restaurant. ‘The Rice Bowl’ was their signature dish, and it was widely praised.
It’s all about the tahini sauce, nutty, unusual in flavour thanks to the ume plum vinegar (which I’ve been able to find at Goodness Me), but so memorable past Nelsonites still speak of it and mourn the Rice Bowl’s passing (it moved to a larger space on Baker St., eventually changed owners and shut down). The infamous tahini sauce is mixed into warm short-grain brown rice, and veggies are piled onto it, along with half an avocado and (optional) marinated tofu. The original had little rectangular slices of kombu seaweed, and a handful of alfalfa sprouts but I used wakame here and didn’t have the sprouts. To be honest I just use whatever I happen to have and it always works; sometimes I steam the veggies, sometimes I leave them raw.
Also important to note: the bowl was always served with a side of organic greens with a vinaigrette (which may have been a miso vinaigrette but I think the recipe I’ve included below is close enough). For me and everyone else it was customary, and by that I mean essential, that the greens be cast right into the rice bowl and mixed in with chopsticks. To save steps I just toss the tahini dressing into warm rice, place my veggies, greens, and tofu on top, and drench the whole thing with the vinaigrette. Divine.
Growing up a sensitive, nature-starved, uneasy suburban kid, I begrudgingly left interior British Columbia to return to the GTA, but I swore I would spend the rest of my life searching for ways to make my life here as much a sanctuary.
Food is so powerful; when I make this rice bowl it takes me right back, and reminds me of transcendence.
1 cup tahini
1/4 cup tamari, or 1/3 cup light tamari
3 Tablespoons ume plum vinegar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup water
Process all ingredients in a food processor, then toss sauce into warm, cooked short-grain brown rice to coat.
Use coated rice as a base and top with grated or julienne carrot, julienne cucumber, sweet peppers, peas, wilted kale, grape tomatoes, wakame or kombu, avocado, sprouts, or whatever you have on hand.
Sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 2 cups.
Rice Bowl Companion Vinaigrette
6 Tablespoons mild sunflower, grape seed, or vegetable oil
6 Tablespoons rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons tamari soy sauce, (a little more if using light tamari)
3 Tablespoons water
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon coconut sugar, or more to taste
Mix all ingredients well and drizzle over rice and veggies.
Store leftover dressing in the fridge for up to a month. Makes about a cup and a half.
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup water
1 ½ Tablespoons sunflower oil
1 9oz (250g) block firm tofu, cut into 64 cubes
Mix vinegar, tamari, water, and oil thoroughly in a large bowl.
When making this marinade, it is very important to mix the ingredients first, before pouring them over the tofu. If you pour the individual ingredients over the tofu, whatever you put in first will be the only thing that flavours the tofu.
Pour marinade over tofu cubes. Marinate cubes for at least 15 minutes. Then sauté or bake in the oven until warm.
There is enough marinade in this recipe to cover two blocks of firm tofu. Stored in a sealed container in the fridge, the cubes will keep for up to three days.
NOTE TO SUBSCRIBERS: You may have noticed I missed a few weeks! In order to bring you well-researched content, improve my online skills (ugh), work on other projects, and have a life, I’ll be posting just once or twice a month from now on. Thanks for your ongoing support.