Guys. I’m back. And hopefully for good this time. I really like sharing my recipes here on my albanEATS blog, but life gets in the way when I don’t make this a priority. It’s so much easier to send a snap or post to my Instagram #whatveganseat than it is to take the time to photograph, edit, and create a post. But enough with the excuses Laura…
This dinner is one I’ve made a few times now, and it’s been amazing each time. I pulled from a few different recipes here and here that I found through Pinterest (duh) to put this Bahn Mi-inspired bowl together.
I’m going to give you the recipe up front this time. I always find myself scrolling through the blog to get to the good stuff, then scanning back later. So why not orient this blog the way I’d want it.
So here it is:
Bahn Mi Buddha Bowl
- ½ rice vinegar + ½ cup water
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 15 Szechuan (or black) peppercorns
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 garlic clove, crushed with a knife
- 2 carrots, ribboned/julienned
- Daikon radish, sliced/julienned
Dry-fried Tofu and Sauce
- 400 g firm or extra-firm tofu (make sure to get organic/non-gmo)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 4 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
- 1-2 tbsp Sriracha
- 3 tsp (toasted) sesame oil
- 1 cups jasmine rice
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 1/2 cup water
- ½ tsp salt (optional)
Homemade Spicy Mayo
- ¼ cup chickpea water
- 4 tsp lime juice (or lemon juice or vinegar)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp powdered garlic
- ~1 cup mild tasting oil
- 4-5 tsp Sriracha
Suggested Toppings (all optional)
- Sliced or diced avocado
- Shredded cabbage or massaged kale (or a mix of the two)
- Sliced or diced cucumber
- Chopped green onions
- Chopped cilantro
- Start with the pickled veggies first. Cut both the carrot and daikon (or red) radish into half-moons. You want roughly the same amount of daikon as carrots, so about a cup and a half. Put the rest of the ingredients (rice vinegar, water, maple syrup, peppercorns, salt and smashed garlic clove) in a saucepan to simmer until combined, about five minutes. Pull it off the stove and stir in the carrots and daikon radish. Set it aside while you cook. Alternatively, you could do this the night before and they’ll be much more pickle-y and flavorful.
- Take out your package of tofu and drain it. Wrap in a couple of layers of paper towels and put something heavy on top. This Dutch oven works perfectly for me. You can use a pan or pot with canned goods inside too. Set a timer for 30 minutes.
- While you’re waiting on the tofu to press, start on the spicy mayo dressing. Into a tall container, pour your chickpea water, lime juice, salt and garlic powder. Blitz for a couple of seconds with an immersion blender to combine. SLOWLY add the oil. It should take you about five minutes to incorporate the oil. Now add in the sriracha or gochujang. I’ve used sriracha and gochujang separately and the mayo has come out equally tasty. Use what you have.
- Start your coconut rice now. You can use light or full-fat coconut milk, but the full-fat has a better, richer flavor. Add one cup of brown rice, a full can of coconut milk (which is about a cup and a half) and a half cup of water into a pot. Bring that mixture up to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 35 minutes then take it off the heat. Let it sit in the pot for at least 10 minutes to continue to steam. Do not peek!
- Next, unwrap the tofu and cut it up into bite-sized pieces. Turn your stove onto medium-high and let your pan heat up for a minute or so. Place the tofu pieces directly into the pan sans oil. Fry on each side for 3-5 minutes. You’ll probably have to do two batches.
- For the tofu sauce, combine the maple syrup, rice vinegar, liquid aminos, sriracha (or gochujang) and sesame oil into a bowl and whisk to combine. When the tofu is cooked, toss in the sauce and return to the pan to reduce. Lower heat to medium-low.
- Now it’s time to assemble! Put everything into your bowl however you like it and drizzle with the spicy mayo sauce. And why not a glass of wine to top it off.
Now make it with me!
It starts with quick-pickled veggies. I’ve experimented with cutting the veggies into matchsticks (which are really just a pain in the ass to cut and can be difficult to eat). This time I just made skinny half moons and I liked it best. They’re easier to cut and easier to eat.
Cut up two carrots.
Look at those beauties. Snack on a few while you cut them up if you have no self-control like me.
Next are radishes. I have used daikon radish the few times I made this, but regular red radishes (the pretty ones in a bunch at the grocery store) work just as well. The daikon is a little more mild so the taste isn’t as spicy as the traditional radish. I recommend these if you can get them. I get them at Sprouts, so they shouldn’t be hard to find.
You want roughly the same amount of daikon as carrots, I’m guessing it’s about a cup and a half. Make more or less depending on how much you think you’ll eat.
I should have done this first, but if you like to break the rules like me, stop what you’re doing an move on to the next step: tofu!
Take out your package of tofu and drain it. I’ve used firm and extra-firm. Honestly, I don’t see much of a difference (less water content in the extra-firm), but they cook up the same. Here I used firm, so it’s up to you 🙂
Wrap that little soy bundle in a couple of layers of paper towels and put something heavy on top. I’ve found that my mom’s blue Dutch oven works perfectly. If you don’t have a heavy pot like this you can totally improvise. Stick a cutting board on top of it and pile up cookbooks, canned goods, bricks? Haha. As long as you’re not smooshing it into oblivion, feel free to get creative with your heavy, pressing objects.
It should retain its shape, not turn into a pancake. And don’t worry if you hear a lot crashing noise, that’s just your pot falling off the side of your tofu. It’s a bit of a balancing act to get the pot to stay on there. Kind of like a Bosu ball for your tofu…
Set a timer for 30 minutes to let the tofu press out some extra water and move back to the pickling liquid for our crispy veggies. Put all the ingredients (rice vinegar, water, maple syrup, peppercorns, salt and a garlic clove) in a saucepan/small pot and simmer until combined, about five minutes.
Pull it off the stove and stir in the carrots and daikon radish. Put it aside and let them pickle up while you make the rest of dinner. Alternatively, you could do this the night before and they’ll be much more pickle-y and tasty. I know this because I’ve done it both ways. If you let them sit overnight they’re much more flavorful, but if you didn’t think ahead, it’s no biggie. They’re delicious if only pickled for 30 minutes too.
While you’re waiting on the tofu timer, start on the spicy mayo dressing. This is the best part of the whole meal. Legit. And we get to use the vegan wonder-ingredient: aquafaba. For the uninitiated, this is the brine/juices left over when you drain a can of chickpeas. I’ve also heard you can use any other white or light-colored bean, but I haven’t tried anything other than chickpeas.
Into a tall container, put in your chickpea water, lime juice, salt and garlic powder. Blitz it up for a couple of seconds with an immersion blender to combine.
Then you’ll SLOWLY add the oil. It should take you at least five minutes to incorporate. the oil. If you go too fast, it won’t emulsify and you’ll get a weird, separated mess.
Sometimes I use the whole cup of oil, sometimes I use 3/4… It depends on the consistency of the chickpea liquid so you just have to figure it out as you’re going. Once the immersion blender goes, “hey, I can’t blend this anymore because it’s the consistency of mayonnaise”, you know it’s time to stop. Congratulations, you’ve just made vegan mayo!
To take this up a notch, and bring it back to the Vietnamese-inspired Bahn Mi flavor profile we’re going for, add in a bunch of sriracha. Or gochujang. I’ve used both, and honestly I like the gochujang best. It’s a little milder in spice than sriracha but has a real depth of flavor. Both are tasty.
I have no idea how much that is in there; I’d say 1-2 Tablespoons. Start with one and taste it. If you want more spicy, add more 🙂 It should come out a light orange color when you’ve mixed it all up.
And look at that consistency! Yummers.
So by now, the tofu should be done pressing. Cut it up into pieces the size of something you would like to eat. I like to cut it twice down the long side, and then cut that into nine pieces. That way I end up with 27 little tofu pieces.
Detach those spongy little guys from each other and get ready to cook ’em.
Turn your stove onto medium-high and let the pan heat up for a minute or so. Place the tofu pieces directly onto the NON-OILED pan. Do not oil it. Dry-frying is the best way to cook tofu in my opinion. For whatever reason, when I oil the pan it sticks…
I learned this technique from my pals over at the Thug Kitchen (I don’t really know them, but I feel like we’re friends since I cook so much from their cookbooks). Push down on the little tofus with a spatula until they scream. Yes, they’ll sound like “help me, you’re frying the water out of me” hahaha, which is exactly what we’re doing. And you can laugh out loud about it the whole time like I always do.
While we wait for those guys to brown, let’s mix up a little sauce for the tofu. Simply put the maple syrup, rice vinegar, liquid aminos, sriracha (or gochujang again) and sesame oil into a bowl and whisk to combine.
Now we have to flip the little screamers over to brown on the other side.
You’ll have to do two batches of the tofu. You don’t want to crowd the pan because then the tofu will steam and not fry up nice and crispy. Look how that tofu has transformed from flavorless and bland to delicious, crispy pieces!
Fry up the second batch and you can work on preparing the toppings while they cook.
Also, did you notice these tiny and adorable utensils I’m using? My mom got them from a friend of hers and she thought, “when am I ever going to use these little things?”. Well, little did she know that I’d use them almost every day! They’re adorable, and they make sense for little tasks. I don’t need a large whisk when I only need to blend up a cup’s-worth of ingredients… I told her when I move out and get my own house she can get me a set of my own as a house-warming gift 😉
Ok, enough about those little guys. Let’s prep some veggies. Cucumber, cabbage, and…
H’alllllllll the avocado. I cut up two avocados because I can eat a whole one for myself. And, c’mon, who doesn’t like avocado…
Yum, yum, yum.
Now it’s time to take that sauce we made for the tofu and mix ’em up in there.
Find a bowl that’s big enough to give them a little toss, and do just that.
Then we throw the whole thing back into that hot pan.
Steamy and bubbly!
Let that simmer for a couple minutes and then lower the heat to reduce for about five minutes.
Oh man, I forgot to tell you about the rice. This is THE BEST rice guys. Brown rice cooked in coconut milk. All you do is replace the water with a can of coconut milk. You can use light or full-fat, but the full-fat has a better, richer flavor, cuz fat… obviously.
Also, I cook my rice slightly different from the package instructions. This is brown rice, which usually cooks for 45 minutes. I put in one cup of brown rice, a full can of coconut milk (which is about a cup and a half) and a half cup of water into a pot. Bring that mixture up to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook it on low for 30 or 35 minutes then pull it off the heat. DON’T OPEN THE LID. Let it sit in the pot for at least 10 minutes to continue to steam. Don’t peek until your timer goes off.
Now it’s time to assemble!
All those fresh veggies and the sauuuuuuuuce. You guys, make this for if only for the spicy mayo sauce.
Pile it all in there however you like. My mom and dad like to just throw it all in the bowl with no eye for its presentation. I, on the other hand, eat first with my eyes so I like to have something visually appealing to look at while I eat.
Drizzle that sauce all over, baby.
And admire yourself for putting together this insanely delicious, healthy, plant-based dinner.
Oh my gosh, I forgot avocado. You FOOL!
That’s better. Now more sauce, and a glass of wine to top it off.
And there you have it! Please try this out and let me know if you do. I’d love comments, constructive criticism, or praise. Yes, I’d love some praise 😉