Think brown rice is boring? You just need to perk things up with a little Southeast Asian flair…
We eat a lot of brown rice in our home, and as much as my partner and I enjoy its nutty flavor and health-giving properties, it can get a little monotonous. Mix it up with chewy baked tofu, crunchy cashews, and the zesty flavors of lemongrass, ginger, lime, and cilantro, however, and we'll fight each other for the last bite. (The first time Gregory tried this, he did a double-take when I told him he was scarfing down brown rice.)
Both fresh and savory, this bowl makes a perfect, protein-packed lunch, or it can even be served as a filling breakfast or side dish at dinner. I like using brown Basmati rice, which is wonderfully aromatic and fluffy, but this recipe can be also made with other varieties of brown rice, white rice, or quinoa. It's a great use for leftovers and can adapted to whatever you have in your refrigerator and pantry. Try peanuts instead of cashews; add vegetables like carrots or Asian greens; substitute mushrooms or tempeh for the baked tofu ... you get the idea.
8 ounces extra firm tofu
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
2 1/2 tablespoons flavorless vegetable oil, such as grapeseed
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons grated lemongrass (white part only)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons lime juice
3 cups cooked brown Basmati rice
1/4 cup cashews, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Rinse and drain tofu. Cut tofu into 1/2-inch thick slices and place between clean kitchen towels (or paper towels). Place a heavy object such as a skillet or cutting board on top to press out excess liquid. Let sit 15 minutes.
Cut tofu into 1/2-inch cubes and toss in a bowl with 2 tablespoons soy sauce.
Lightly oil a baking sheet and spread the tofu cubes evenly on the sheet. Bake tofu for 15 minutes and flip over. Continue baking for about 10-15 minutes until tofu is toasted and chewy. Remove from oven.
Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and translucent.
Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and lime juice and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add rice and tofu and stir to combine and heat through.
Remove from heat, stir in cashews and cilantro, and serve.
(Images: Emily Ho)