Sometimes I have lunch at a little Viet-Thai restaurant with my work team. The restaurant makes killer fresh vegetable spring rolls served with a spicy peanut dipping sauce.
I’m not particularly adept at rolling things – burritos, sleeping bags, you name it. So I recreated those glorious spring rolls by deconstructing them and turning them into a Buddha bowl of sorts. This may not be the usual Buddha bowl, but you will reach nirvana when you eat it.
My Buddha bowl is made up of: leaf lettuce, carrots, cucumber, radishes, roasted tofu and mung bean (also known as glass) noodles. I eat it like a salad with spicy peanut sauce.
Do not be deterred by the long list of ingredients and steps. This dish is easy and worthy! And there are really three recipes in one here since the baked tofu and spicy peanut sauce have multiple uses.
You do need to plan ahead a bit. You need at least 2 hours to make the baked tofu – one hour for marinating, 30 minutes to bake and then your prep and cooling time. Everything else comes together in 15 minutes. I promise.
This recipe makes 2 ENORMOUS Buddha bowls.
Baked tofu – you can even make this a day ahead
12 oz block firm tofu
2 Tbsp cooking sherry or cheap red wine
2 Tbsp soya sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil.
Slice the tofu into 8 slices. Put the slices flat between clean paper towels or kitchen towels and press down with the heel of your hands to squeeze out as much moisture as possible without squishing or flattening the slices. You want dry tofu!
Arrange the tofu in a single layer on a baking sheet.
In a small bowl or glass, mix the sherry or wine, soya sauce or tamari and sesame oil. Pour over the tofu and let the tofu marinade for at least one hour and up to 4 hours (not longer – the tofu can get bitter) in the fridge. You can turn the tofu once if you want, but it’s not necessary – it’ll sop up all the flavour it needs.
Bake the tofu at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool. I slice the tofu into strips for the Buddha bowl, but also use this baked tofu in sandwiches or on its own as a delicious snack.
the Buddha bowl veggies
1 – 2 carrots sliced into long strips (or cut in coins or diced)
½ English cucumber cut into long strips
5 – 6 radishes sliced
1 head leaf lettuce washed and cut into bite size pieces
2 bundles of mung bean noodles or rice vermicelli or similar (all packages of these noodles that I’ve ever seen come in little nests or bundles of about 1-2 oz each)
Prepare the noodles according to package directions which typically involves putting the noodles in a heatproof bowl or measuring cup and pouring boiling water over them. They will “cook” in about 10 minutes… enough time to prep your salad and the chili sauce. Once they are cooked, drain well in a mesh strainer.
Audrey’s spicy peanut sauce
2 green onions sliced
2 cloves garlic minced
1/3 cup vegetable broth or water
Juice of 1 lime
3 Tbsp peanut butter (just peanuts peanut butter – no icing sugar and weird oil and stuff)
3 Tbsp soya sauce or tamari
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp powdered ginger
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp chili paste (I use sambal oelek)
Put all the ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat so the peanut butter melts and everything blends together. Let cool and pour over your Buddha bowl. This sauce is also excellent tossed with noodles and veggies for a quick pasta dish and makes an excellent dipping sauce.
Arrange the vegetables two very large bowls along with the sliced roasted tofu and the cooked, cooled noodles. You can add toasted sesame seeds and spicy pickled vegetables (shown) for garnish. Serve with the spicy peanut sauce over top. Eat and enjoy!