Meatless Monday: Brown Rice Bowl with Tofu and Vegetables

America's Test Kitchen, which airs on KCET, has recently launched an online cooking school. This vegetarian recipe is one of their creations, and with avocado and nori involved, it's a sure-fire winner. And yes, it's vegetarian!

Photo courtesy America's Test Kitchen
Photo courtesy America's Test Kitchen

Brown Rice Bowl with Tofu and Vegetables
Makes 6 servings
Rice and dressing
2?? Cups short-grain brown rice
3½ Cups water
2 Teaspoons vegetable oil
6 Tablespoons rice vinegar
6 Tablespoons mirin
½ Teaspoon sugar
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 orange
1 lime
Vegetables and tofu
28 Ounces soft tofu
¾ Cup cornstarch
¼ Cup cornmeal
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
6 radishes
1 avocado
1 cucumber
4 scallions , sliced thin
1 (8 by 7½-inch) sheet nori , crumbled (optional)

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REPARE RICE AND DRESSING: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

Spread 2 1/3 cups short-grain brown rice in 8-inch-square baking dish.

Bring 3½ cups water and 2 teaspoons vegetable oil to boil in small saucepan. Once boiling, stir in ½ teaspoon salt and immediately pour water over rice in baking dish.

Cover dish tightly with double layer of aluminum foil. Transfer baking dish to oven and bake rice until tender, about 1 hour.

Remove baking dish from oven and uncover. Fluff rice with fork, then cover dish with clean kitchen towel; let rice stand 5 minutes. Uncover and let rice stand 5 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, bring 6 tablespoons rice vinegar, 6 tablespoons mirin, and ½ teaspoon sugar to boil in small saucepan, then remove from heat. Measure 1/3 cup of mixture into small bowl.

Grate ½ teaspoon zest from 1 orange and ½ teaspoon zest from 1 lime. Squeeze 1 tablespoon juice from orange and 1 tablespoon juice from lime.

Add zests and juices to vinegar mixture in bowl, along with 3 tablespoons soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon grated ginger. Reserve dressing for serving.

Transfer rice to large bowl, sprinkle with remaining vinegar mixture, and toss occasionally with wooden paddle or spoon until cool, about 20 minutes.

PREPARE VEGETABLES: Thinly slice 6 radishes and set aside for serving.

Peel and halve lengthwise 1 cucumber. Use spoon to scoop and discard seeds. Slice seeded cucumber crosswise into thin half circles.

PREPARE TOFU: Cut 2 (14-ounce) blocks soft tofu crosswise into ¾-inch-thick slabs, then slice each slab into two fingers.

Spread tofu over paper towel-lined baking sheet and let drain for 20 minutes. Gently press tofu dry with paper towels.

Adjust oven rack to middle position, place paper towel-lined plate on rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees.

Place wire rack over rimmed baking sheet. Whisk ¾ cup cornstarch and ¼ cup cornmeal together in shallow dish.

Season drained tofu with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Working with a few pieces at a time, coat tofu thoroughly with cornstarch mixture, pressing to help it adhere, then transfer to prepared wire rack.

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large nonstick skillet over medium"?high heat until shimmering.

Carefully lay half of tofu in skillet and cook until crisp and lightly golden on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes.

Using spatula, gently transfer tofu to plate in oven.

Return skillet to medium"?high heat and repeat with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and remaining tofu.

Halve, pit, and peel 1 ripe avocado. Slice avocado thin.

Portion rice into six individual serving bowls, sprinkle with 1 (8 by 7½-inch) sheet crumbled nori.

Top with tofu, radishes, avocado, and cucumber.

Sprinkle with 4 thinly sliced scallions and drizzle with reserved dressing. Serve, passing more crumbled nori, if desired.

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