Avocado Roll Bowl with Ume Tofu bites

Indulgent amounts of creamy avocados take center-stage here, backed by crunchy fresh veggies, savoury ume tofu and tamari-lemon dressing. All the best parts of an avocado sushi roll with the simplicity of a bowl! This quick weeknight meal takes only as long to prepare as the rice takes to cook and makes a double batch so you can serve it again later in the week without any extra prep time. Hurrah!

Unlike its delicious sushi counterpart, this avocado roll bowl is designed to sustain you with a base of short-grain brown rice and fragrant, tangy ume tofu bites. We like ample tamari, lemon, and wasabi on ours but this would be a great place to pull out your favourite sriracha mayo or sweet citrus-ginger dressing. You can make extra rice and tofu to use in another bowl later in the week, covering the bulk of effort for two meals in one go. We made dragon sauce bowls with the leftovers this time, but fried rice is another choice option.

I’ve included recipe notes on working with dried shiitakes, handling wet food when you have sensory aversions, and working with umeboshi paste. I know I had to look up all of these things at some point or another so I thought I would add them all here for convenience. If there is anything else you need further instruction on, please let me know!

Avocado Roll Bowl

The best avocado bowl ever! Creamy avocados, crunchy fresh veg, and ume tofu bites on a bed of warm brown sushi rice. This is like a deconstructed sushi roll in a bowl, taking only as much time as it takes to cook the rice to make two nights worth of bowls. We just chop extra veg and make double rice and tofu so that there is enough for another meal later in the week. The rice, tofu, and chopped carrot, cucumber and daikon last about 5 days in the fridge. so you can make some dragon sauce or even lemon-tahini for the second batch for variety, or stick with the avocado roll bowl concept here.
Total Time40 mins
Course: Bowls, Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American, Asian
Keyword: Avocado, Make-ahead, Rice, Savoury, Vegan
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 2 cups short-grain brown rice or sushi rice You can add seasoned rice vinegar if you prefer that authentic sushi flavour, go for about 1/4 cup and stir it in after it is cooked.
  • 1 batch Ume Tofu Bites recipe below
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and grated
  • 1 medium cucumber chopped (and seeded if watery)
  • 1/2 small daikon peeled and chopped, about 1 1/2 cups total
  • 4 avocados peel and chop only the amount you will be serving today, 1/2 avocado per bowl.
  • 3 ounces dried shiitakes, reconstituted or 1 pound fresh shiitakes. See recipe notes below for reconstitution instructions.
  • 3 scallions sliced thinly on the bias
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 sheet nori (sushi wrappers) cut with scissors into 4 strips, then cut with scissors crosswise into matchsticks
  • wasabi paste to taste
  • lemon wedges, sesame seeds, or fresh scallions to garnish, if desired

Instructions

  • Prepare the rice according to package directions. I estimated about 40 minutes of cook time for brown rice. You can make the ume tofu bites (see recipe below) at the same time, and complete the remaining steps in the cooking time listed. If so, preheat the oven at the same time you put on the rice water to boil, then immediately make the tofu and put it in the oven before continuing with bowl instructions.
  • While the rice is cooking, chop your veggies as described in the instructions.
  • Mix tamari, sesame oil, and lemon lemon juice and set aside.
  • Prepare your mushrooms. Place a large pan over medium-high heat and drizzle with some extra olive oil. Add the mushrooms all at once and cook until browning slightly. You will want to keep the pan hot and sizzling, with liquids from the mushrooms evaporating quickly, so adjust the heat accordingly.
  • Once the mushrooms are all a bit brown and mostly cooked, add the scallions to the pan, adding extra oil if necessary so they don't stick. After about one minute, or when scallions are starting to look golden in places, turn off the heat and splash a couple of tablespoons the prepared tamari sauce to the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Set aside.
  • Once the rice is cooked you're ready to assemble the bowls. Only assemble the bowls you will be serving immediately. Place the veggies in little separate piles around the edge of the bowl, with the tofu in the middle. Scoop some of the mushrooms over the tofu, then drizzle with a couple of spoonfuls of the tamari sauce. Sprinkle over nori and sesame seeds if using, and add a dot of wasabi. You are now ready to serve your bowls!
  • Put the remainder of the veggies together in a airtight container in the fridge, and the leftover rice and tofu into a separate container and refrigerate. Consume within 5 days.

Notes

If you’re new to dried shiitakes, here is a break-down of how to reconstitute them. I like to soak a bunch using the hot water method, and then keep them in the fridge in some of their soaking liquid. That way I have “fresh” shiitakes whenever I want to toss some into my tofu scramble or stir fries. If you do this, consume within 2 weeks. https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-substitute-dried-mushrooms-for-fresh-mushrooms-1388871

Ume Tofu Bites

These tofu bites are perfect for topping your salads, bowls, ramen, or stir-fried veggies. The soy milk is my favourite marinade base for tofu, it helps the sauce absorb and brown nicely, adding a little bit of extra flavour.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Bowls, Noodles, Protein, Salad, Snack
Cuisine: American, Japanese
Keyword: Tofu
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 2 blocks firm tofu Tofu varies greatly from place to place. In this case we are looking for about 800-1000 grams of tofu that is firm- not soft/ silken tofu.
  • 2 tablespoons umeboshi paste
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar cider or wine vinegar would work here, too
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • optional: finely grated garlic and/or ginger, up to about a tablespoon of each

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to about 425 °F, with heat coming from the top/ broiler if possible. If your oven doesn't have precise measurements for broiler heat, use the "high" setting if possible. Place your oven rack about 1/3 of the way down from the top of the oven, so it is near the broiler heat. You want it to be about 6 inches away from the heat source in most ovens.
  • Cube the tofu into about 1-inch cubes.
  • In a small bowl, carefully smoosh the ume paste into the soy milk, pressing it against the side of the bowl with the back of your spoon to ensure it dissolves evenly. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir.
  • On a large foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet, add all the tofu at once and drizzle with all of the marinade. Toss it all together with your hands and press the tofu evenly across the baking sheet in a single layer if possible, careful not to tear the foil to avoid washing unnecessary dishes. See the recipe notes below for an alternative to using your hands if you like.
  • Bake the tofu under the hot broiler until golden (or after about ten minutes), then stir gently to get the other side golden as well. If your tofu isn't golden at the 10-minute mark, increase the heat or move the rack closer to the broiler. It is ready when the tofu is browning in some places, golden all over, and the marinade is almost completely cooked away. The browned bits at the bottom of the pan are delicious, so try and scrape them out of the pan with the tofu bites when you are serving them. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for about 7 days.

Notes

You can find umeboshi paste in most grocery stores in the Japanese section, it is also readily available online. Be sure to get paste and not whole ume or ume vingegar. If you can only get whole ume, use only 1 tablespoon, and mash it into a paste with a little water before proceeding with the recipe.
 
For this recipe, instead of tossing the tofu with your hands you could use a large spoon if you really prefer not to get your hands dirty, but it takes a lot longer if you’re mixing it on the baking sheet. If you know you have sensory aversions, go ahead and make the marinade in a large bowl instead, adding the tofu directly to the marinade in the bowl and stirring with a spoon. Alternately, keep a pair of washable rubber or silicone gloves aside for food use only (pick a different colour than your washing gloves!) and wear them when needed to avoid getting your hands dirty, washing them with soap just like you would wash your hands normally to avoid getting them wet inside. 

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