Rainbow Umami Bowl

I’ve been having a hard time naming this week’s recipe. Something that I have tried to be cognisant of while writing my blog is the appropriation of other culture’s food & names for my blog. I love tasting food of all cultures, it is one of the most incredible ways to create shared experiences with other people and to come together. And personally, my favorite cuisines aren’t western. So while I always try to incorporate these flavors into my recipes, I try to be aware of how I write my recipes and name them. 

Which brings us to this week’s recipe. In my mind, it is what a restaurant would call a Buddha Bowl. An amalgamation of mostly raw ingredients served on a bed of rice with a peanut butter sauce. But naming it that, when I’m not buddhist, and being aware that the term was appropriated by vegetarians to label a bowl of hearty ingredients makes me uncomfortable. So, if you love “Bhudda Bowls” then this is the recipe for you, even if it is unconventionally named!

Now enough about the name, time for the food! The ingredient that takes this recipe over the top are the dried shiitake mushrooms. If you have not cooked with dried shiitake before, they are an incredible ingredient. They are cheaper than the fresh version, barely any extra work, have great texture, and produce a fantastic mushroom broth full of umami. We not only use the mushrooms in the recipe, but also incorporate their broth into the peanut butter sauce to bring a delicious depth of flavor. This is a fantastic recipe for weeknights & meal prepping, with lots of leftovers to go around (about 4-6 portions). I hope you enjoy it! 

Active time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes


  • 50g dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 Block of extra firm tofu
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce, divided
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • ⅓ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • ⅓-½  cup mushroom broth (from the rehydrated shiitakes)
  • 2 red bell peppers, finely diced
  • 1/2  lb carrots, grated
  • Bunch green onions, thinly slice
  • Neutral oil, for cooking
  • Cooked brown rice, for serving
  • Sesame seeds, to top


  1. About two hours before beginning to cook, the shiitake will need to be rehydrated. Put them in a ziploc bag and fill it with water. Close the bag and try to get as much air out of it as possible, so the mushrooms are totally submerged. Set aside to soak. At the same time, begin to press your tofu.
  2. Combine a ¼ cup soy sauce and coconut sugar in a large bowl to marinate the tofu. Cut the tofu into small cubes about a ½ inch in diameter and marinate in the bowl. Set aside. 
  3. Now, we will drain the mushrooms. Open the bag and pour out the broth into a bowl through a coffee filter. This will permit us to use the wonderful mushroom both while also filtering out the grimey particles. Once the broth has been poured off, take the mushrooms in you clean hands and squeeze any excess liquid out over the sink. Prepare the shiitake by removing the stems and cutting the caps into quarters.
  4. Heat a large heavy bottom skillet on medium low heat. Once hot add in the shredded coconut and toast for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently until golden and fragrant.
  5. Put the same pan back on the heat and turn it up to medium. Add a splash of neutral oil and cook the shiitake for 4-5 minutes, until tender. Once complete, add a generous pinch of salt and the sesame oil and set aside. 
  6. While the mushrooms cook, make the sauce. Combine the peanut butter, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, ¼ tsp salt and 2 tbsps soy sauce with a ⅓ of a cup of the mushroom broth. Stir to combine and add additional mushroom broth to thin as necessary. I typically add a tablespoon or two but will depend on your peanut butter. 
  7. Return the same pan to the stove and turn up to medium-high. Add a splash of neutral oil and add the tofu. Cook for 6-8 minutes until browned on all sides. 
  8. Now, we can construct our bowls. Start with a layer of rice, then layer on all the vegetables (red bell pepper, carrot, green onion) tofu, coconut, sesame seeds and finally top with the delicious sauce. Enjoy!

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