Tofu Sesame Rice Bowls are a healthy lunch or dinner choice that you will want to make over and over! These easy bowls are filled with fresh Asian flavors and vegetables and served over rice.
Layers of flavor in Tofu Sesame Rice Bowls:
Making Tofu Sesame Rice Bowls is easy and all about the layering. Start with a fluffy bowl of rice, add seared tofu, top with vegetables and sauce. Add a sprinkling of sesame seeds and cilantro and your bowl is complete!
How to prep and sear tofu:
Tofu is a great option if you are trying to cut back on meat, but this recipe works great with chicken strips seared in place of the tofu, as well.
Tofu comes in a block and is packed in water, so if you want to get a great sear on your tofu you will need to “air dry” it before cooking. For tofu pieces like the one in this recipe use Firm or Extra Firm tofu. It will be clearly labeled on the package. Anything softer will not hold up for a good sear.
Follow these easy steps for perfectly seared and flavorful tofu:
- Drain the tofu block and place on a cutting board
- Cut the block into 8 equal rectangular pieces
- Prep the tofu pieces by laying them in a single layer on 3 layers of paper towels.
- Lay an additional layer of paper towels on top of the tofu and press down gently to release some of the moisture.
- Let air dry for about 10 minutes while preparing the sauce.
- To sear: add canola oil to a large non-stick pan and heat until the oil is shimmering. Gently lay tofu pieces in the pan in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cook without moving for 4 minutes, making sure to develop a nice crust. Turn and sear the other side for additional 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.
Finishing the tofu with an Asian Sauce:
Finish the seared tofu by drizzling half of the reserved sauce over the top. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened.
Assembling your rice bowls:
The ideal rice for this type of bowl is a fluffy rice, such as jasmine or basmati rice. Brown rice is also a great choice because it adds a nutty flavor. Add the seared tofu and the vegetables over the rice and drizzle with additional sauce. Top with sesame seeds and cilantro for added flavor.
Tofu Sesame Rice Bowls
- 14 ounce block Firm Tofu, cut into 8 equal rectangular pieces
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Sambal Oelek hot sauce, or sriracha
- ¼ cup water
- 3 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp olive oil, or canola oil
- 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ cup scallions, sliced on a diagonal, white and light green part, divided
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds, divided
- 1 cup carrots, shredded or cut in matchsticks
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- 3 cups rice, cooked white or brown
Preparing the tofu:
- Prep the tofu pieces by laying them in a single layer on 3 layers of paper towels. Lay an additional layer of paper towels on top of the tofu and press down gently to release some of the moisture. Let air dry for about 10 minutes while preparing the sauce.
- In a medium bowl whisk together soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, Sambal, water and sesame oil, making sure sugar is completely dissolved.
- Reserve about 1/2 cup of the sauce, in a small bowl, for serving with finished rice bowls. Whisk cornstarch into the remaining sauce.
- In a large non-stick skillet add canola oil and heat over medium. Once the oil is shimmering, but not smoking, lay the tofu in a single layer in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cook without turning or moving for 4 minutes. Gently turn and cook on the other side. Tofu should be a light golden brown.
- Drizzle sauce (with cornstarch) over the tofu in the pan. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. The sauce will be thick and syrupy. If too thick add a tsp of water to get the desired consistency. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon scallions and 1 teaspoon sesame seeds.
Assembling the Rice Bowls
- Prepare 4 bowls. Fill each bowl with 3/4 cup of cooked rice, 2 pieces of tofu and some sauce, carrots, remaining scallions, and sesame seeds. Garnish with cilantro leaves.Serve with remaining reserved sauce.