If you are looking for a great healthy dish for a tasty weeknight meal, look no further than this Crispy Tofu Rice Bowl topped with bok choy and edamame then drizzled with a thick teriyaki glaze!
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A year or so ago I had dinner with a friend at a place in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood called Glaze Teriyaki. I loved the food and made notes as I knew I wanted to create something inspired by their dishes. Well, it's taken me a while but this Teriyaki Tofu Rice Bowl is my homemade versions of one of their rice bowls!
I love the idea of Asian-inspired rice bowls, especially vegetarian rice bowls. They provide easy options for packable lunches or quick weeknight meals and because rice keeps well it can be made ahead of time during your weekly meal prep.
You'll love the crisp that the tofu gets from first baking it then pan-searing it for an extra crunch. And let's talk about the teriyaki glaze. I've started making a double recipe of it whenever I make this bowl and drizzling it on other rice bowls and stir-fries. It's great for any Asian inspired dishes!
Tips for Cooking Tofu
Tofu is a great choice for meatless protein and when cooked well it can provide endless options. If it's not cooked well it can become a soggy mess and if you've ever had soggy tofu you probably weren't exactly begging for more. I've experimented with tofu quite a bit in the past couple of years as I was not always a fan. I always thought it was really bland and boring but have learned that if you take a bit of time to prepare it can be really delicious!!
If you follow these tips you'll get crispy, irresistible tofu that you'll want to make over and over again.
- Choose the right type of tofu for the dish. Unless you are making a vegan dessert or a tofu scramble you want the tofu to be crispy not soggy so we are using extra-firm block tofu which is what you'll want any rice bowl, stir-fry or other similar dishes.
- Block tofu is packed in water so you'll need to squeeze as much moisture as possible out of the tofu. If it's water-logged it's never going to get nice and crispy! I've made this into a two-step process of draining it on paper towels with something heavy on top and then baking it in the oven. Baking is an extra step but since it's hands-off prep time and you work on something else during that time.
- Slice the tofu into pieces before pressing the moisture out. This makes it easier to work with and you'll get more water out this way.
- Use a non-stick pan. I'm a big fan of stainless steel and cast iron but that's not the right option for this. Anything other than non-stick and you're likely to end up with a big mess on the bottom of your pan. If I had them, I'd share photos from the first time I tried that - not good!
- The ideal texture for extra firm tofu is crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside so don't skimp on the oil. In the grand scheme of things, it's not a lot of added fat and you'll get a better result by not trying to save a few calories.
- Don't crowd the tofu in the pan. Leave a little space between each piece. Once it's in the pan don't stir it until you are ready to flip it over. That will give you that wonderful golden brown crisp you're looking for.
- One thing I learned from reading a Serious Eats article is that you actually shouldn't marinate tofu. It can make the taste of the marinade too strong, which I learned the hard way! Best to add the sauces after the tofu is cooked!
Done right tofu can provide an endless stream of options for meatless dishes. Once you try the nice crispy version if you aren't already a tofu fan, you're very likely to become one!
additional notes from the kitchen
- Both the rice and the edamame in this dish can be made ahead of time. I like to cook up a big batch of both during my weekly meal prep and store them in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days in air-tight containers.
- I've mentioned this before but I think avocado or grapeseed oil is better than olive oil for high heat cooking like this. Both have a higher smoke point though olive oil will work if that's what you've got at home.
Things You May Want for This Recipe
Non-stick skillet – When it comes to non-stick pans I'm a fan of Calphalon. I've used them for years and though they do have to be replaced from time to time they hold up well and have a good nonstick surface. I prefer stainless steel for a lot of uses, but for certain things like searing tofu and making quesadillas a good non-stick skillet is key!
Avocado Oil – I’m a big fan of using avocado oil, especially when it comes to recipes that require high heat. It has a higher smoke point than olive oil so it fares much better when you are sautéing or roasting with high heat. It's also high in monounsaturated fat, making it a heart-healthy oil. I've made it a staple in my kitchen right next to my bottle of extra virgin olive oil.
Crispy Teriyaki Tofu Rice Bowl
For the bowl:
- ½ cup long-grain brown rice
- ¾ cup water
- 12.3 ounces of extra-firm tofu
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
- 1 head of baby bok choy
- ½ teaspoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon dried garlic
- ½ cup cooked edamame
For the glaze:
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon sweet rice wine, mirin
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon water
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove the tofu from the box and cut into slices that are about 1" thick. I usually cut across the block the short way to make the slices easier to handle. Place the tofu on a plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels. Place paper towels on top of the tofu and put something heavy such as another pan on top. Press down to remove water then let the tofu sit for about 15 minutes or so.
- Add the rice and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- While the rice is cooking combine soy sauce, sugar, water, wine, garlic and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and stir in the ginger and sesame oil. Mix cornstarch with 1 teaspoon of water. Add to saucepan. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool while you finish the rest of the dish.
- After you've made the teriyaki glaze transfer the tofu to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes.
- While the tofu is baking prep the bok choy by cutting the bottom off the head. Wash the leaves and then cut each piece in lengthwise.
- Once the tofu is done baking cut each piece into smaller pieces by slicing lengthwise. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the tofu being careful not to crowd the piece in the pan. Cook for 4 minutes and then using a pair of tongs carefully turn each piece over and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from pan and keep warm.
- Return the pan to the heat and add 1 tablespoon avocado oil. Add the bok choy and stir to coat. Add the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of water, ginger and garlic. Cover and cook for 2 minutes.
- Divide the rice between two bowls. Top with bok choy, edamame and tofu. Drizzle with the teriyaki glaze. Serve immediately.