Bento bowl with sesame tofu

Bento bowl with sesame tofu

bento bowl side on

A bento bowl consisting of crispy, sesame encrusted tofu, plain rice, stir-fried greens and Japanese-inspired pickles is our dinner du jour!

As the island gets colder, windier and emptier by the day we find ourselves missing city life a little bit more… Things like going to a cinema or out for a casual dinner used to be something we did often in winter and now we need to save them all up until our next city break…

A place we used to go to in London’s Soho made a kick-ass bento box and this bento bowl is a bow to our London ritual of going out for simple Japanese food. When teamed up with a steaming hot bowl of miso, I find this simple meal comforting, satisfying and nourishing – just what the doctor ordered in this tempestuous island weather.

bento bowl sesame encrusted tofu

bento bowl top down

bento bowl portion

serves
2-4
PREP
15 min
COOKING
30 min
serves
2-4
PREPARATION
15 min
COOKING
30 min
INGREDIENTS

PICKLES (make a day ahead)

  • 6 cm / 2 ” piece of ginger
  • 1 daikon or 2-3 small turnips
  • 240 ml / 1 cup rice vinegar
  • ¼-½ cup sugar or maple syrup (adjust to taste)
  • 1½ tsp fine sea salt
  • a slice of raw beetroot (optional)
  • ½ tsp turmeric (optional)

TOFU

  • 200 g tofu, pressed*
  • 2 tbsp tamari (if GF) or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Sriracha
  • 1 cup Panko or gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp white sesame seeds
  • 120 ml / ½ cup reduced aquafaba**
  • 4 tbsp / ¼ cup cornflour / cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp oil for frying (I used peanut)

REMAINING INGREDIENTS

  • favourite rice, cooked (I used sushi rice)
  • stir-fried veggies (I used broccoli)
  • tamari or soy sauce, to serve
  • chilli sauce, to serve

METHOD

PICKLES

  1. Peel the ginger and daikon. Slice the ginger as thinly as you can and slice the daikon into slightly thicker slices.
  2. Rub half a tsp of salt into the ginger slices and set aside for 30 min. After 30 min rinse the salt off.
  3. Put rice vinegar, 120 ml / ½ cup cup of water, sugar and 1 tsp of salt into a small pot and bring to a gentle boil.
  4. Prepare two small jars / bowls if you intend to dye the ginger pink and the daikon yellow. Otherwise you can pickle everything together! Place ginger in one small jar and daikon in another and divide the pickling mixture between these two containers. Add a slice of beetroot to the ginger to dye it pink and turmeric to the daikon to dye it yellow. Set aside for a day.

TOFU

  1. Pour 2 tablespoons of tamari (or soy sauce) and 2 tsp of Sriracha into a shallow bowl. Mix well. Cut the pressed tofu block into 12 even pieces and place them into the soy-Sriracha marinade. Make sure the pieces are evenly coated by spooning some of the marinade over the top of the cut tofu. Leave to marinate for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile prepare three shallow bowls or large plates, one with cornflour / cornstarch, another with aquafaba and the third one with breadcrumbs mixed in with sesame seeds. If using Panko breadcrumbs, crush them a little in a pestle and mortar to get rid of large pieces as they don’t stick to the tofu that well.
  3. Coat each tofu square in cornflour, then in aquafaba and finally in breadcrumbs. Make sure you press each side of the cube into the flour and breadcrumbs well to achieve an even coating on all sides. If you want a thicker crust, you can dip the tofu in aquafaba and breadcrumbs again after you’ve done the first coat.
  4. Pour 2-3 tbsp of oil into a wok and heat it up. Once the oil is hot, fry the tofu in batches of 6. Turn the heat down to medium (I use setting 4 out of 6 on my electric hob) so that the pieces do not brown too quickly. They should take about 1-2 minutes on each side. Once the first batch is ready, spread the tofu on a piece of paper towel to blot excess fat and start frying the second batch.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Serve the tofu straight from the wok, on top of plain cooked rice with stir-fried veggies, with pickles and condiments (tamari / soy sauce and chilli sauce) on a side.

NOTES
* To press the tofu, you either need a special tofu press or you can do it with a bunch of kitchen towels and a heavy weight. Wrap your tofu in a paper towel, place it on a plate and weigh it down with something heavy (like a heavy chopping block, for example). Once the paper towel becomes wet, change it for a new one. Repeat a few times until the paper towel stays almost dry. Pressed tofu is tastier as it absorbs flavours better.

** Reduced aquafaba simply means simmered, without a lid on, until excess water evaporates and the aquafaba becomes thicker. Once it cools it will resemble an egg white (please cool it down completely before using it in this recipe). Even if you use aquafaba from a can / tin, you can still reduce it as described above as it tends to be quite watery straight from a can / tin.

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NUTRITIONAL INFO
calories
239
12%
sugars
16 g
17%
fats
5 g
7%
saturates
1 g
3%
proteins
9 g
17%
carbs
41 g
16%
*per serving
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5.0
3 reviews, 9 comments
REVIEWS & QUESTIONS
Shirley:
This looks great! Can't wait to make it for my vegetarian boyfriend :) I was curious, how does the tofu fair when made ahead of time? Ie: could I make the tofu in the morning for an evening dinner?
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Shirley,
    I'm glad you are thinking of making this. As with all fried food, it is best when eaten straight after being made, but if you want to make it in advance it should still be tasty. Ania
Sophie:
My favourite recipe of 2017. I love it so much I eat it every week ! ** Good quality tofu required !!
Thank you :)
    Ania
    Ania:
    I'm delighted to hear that, Sophie! Thank you :) Ania
kayla:
I made this with arrowroot starch instead of cornstarch and it worked perfectly. This is without a doubt the tastiest tofu I've ever had. Thank you so much.
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks so much, Kayla! Your comment made my day! Glad you enjoyed it! :) Ania
Jess:
The tofu in this dish looks so crispy and yummy! I usually pan-fry my tofu but I can't wait to try it this way!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks Jess! It's really tasty, hope you'll try :) Ania
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine:
The tofu looks so insanely crispy!!! I bet it's fantastic!
    Ania
    Ania:
    Thanks, Rebecca! :)
Rita:
Hello dear! Can you please tell me where you get your supplies from?
A fellow Greek vegan :)
    Ania
    Ania:
    Hi Rita,
    Depends where in Greece do you live, I guess... I'm lucky as Paros is quite well stocked for such a small island. I get my tofu from a health shop in Naoussa and soy sauce, Sriracha, panko breadcrumbs and sushi rice are all available in a shop called Sirocco's, in Parikia. Not sure if that helps unless you too live on Paros?
    Ania
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