Donburi, which literally means “bowl” in Japanese, is a catch-all term for Japanese rice bowl meals. Simple, hearty, and comforting, donburi typically consist of savory toppings served on top of a mound of steaming rice.
In this vegetarian recipe for chili oil tofu donburi, we combine silky soft tofu with fresh vegetables for a healthy meal that’s perfect for lunch or a light dinner. The toppings are seasoned with mentsuyu, a multi-purpose Japanese condiment rich in umami flavor, as well as savory chili oil.
To make mentsuyu, boil together water, dashi powder, mirin, and soy sauce.The combination of smoky dashi, salty soy sauce, and sweet mirin produces a simple, yet flavorful sauce that highlights the mildly sweet and earthy flavor of the tofu. Even better, it’s made with just three pantry ingredients and stores well in the fridge! You can use any leftover mentsuyu as a dipping sauce for noodles or as a seasoning for stir-fries and dressings.
To assemble this tofu donburi, start by piling cooked rice in a large bowl. Then, top with bite-sized lettuce, broccoli sprouts, and the warmed tofu. At this stage, feel free to add in any extra vegetables you’d like, such as cooked carrots, eggplant, or zucchini. Drizzle the menstuyu chili-oil sauce over the tofu and garnish with green onions, sesame seeds, and shredded nori sheets.
The combination of the tender rice, smooth tofu, and crisp greens creates a texturally complex and delectable meal that will fill your stomach without weighing you down.
Servings: 2 servings
- 300-400g silken tofu
- 1-2 lettuce leaves (torn into bite-sized pieces)
- Small handful broccoli sprouts
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 200g cooked rice
- ½ nori sheet (if desired)
For the mentsuyu:
- To make mentsuyu, boil 100ml of water in a small pot and add the dashi powder. Stir then add the mirin and soy sauce. Cook over medium heat for 2 mins and set aside.
- Wrap the tofu in paper towels and microwave for 2 mins.
- In a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp of mentsuyu, chili oil and sesame seeds.
- Put the cooked rice in a bowl and top with lettuce, sprouts, tofu and the sauce from step 3. Garnish with cut seaweed if desired.
Extremely versatile, the remaining mentsuyu can be used as a dipping sauce for noodles, as a seasoning in dressings or stir fries or drizzled over tofu or cooked vegetables.
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Introduction courtesy of Britney Budiman
Britney Budiman (@booritney) is a writer, minimalist, aspiring effective altruist, and runner-in-progress with a penchant for saying “yes.” Previously, she has worked in Cambodia at a traditional arts NGO, in Brazil as a social sciences researcher, and in San Francisco at a housing start-up. She currently lives in the countryside of Kagoshima, Japan, where she teaches English. Her favorite thing in the world is good conversation.