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Author Notes: This black sesame-crusted tofu is a riff on the baked ginger tofu my mom made weekly. Here, it’s topped with another childhood staple: tahini, or sesame butter. We drizzled tahini everywhere, on sprouted bagels, rice cakes, fresh fruit, and steamed veggies (a.k.a. Hippie Cuisine 101). Which brings me to this luscious black sesame-crusted tofu bowl with cilantro-tahini sauce.
The perfect meal to make for a dinner party or a casual friend gathering, it comes together in about 40 minutes, it’s infinitely customizable, and it’s super delicious.
Recipe from Kale and Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Photos copyright © 2017, Lily Diamond.
For the quick-pickled veggies and the cilantro-tahini sauce:
- 2 medium carrots, washed and tops trimmed, thinly julienned (about 3/4 cup)
- 1/3 medium watermelon radish (or radish of choice), washed, trimmed, and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar or 2 1 ⁄4 teaspoons sherry vinegar plus 3 ⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, minced
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar, or 3 ⁄4 teaspoon sherry vinegar plus 1 ⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon miso paste
- 5 tablespoons water
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tablespoon loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
- Make the pickled vegetables: Combine the carrots and radish with the vinegars, water, and mint, and toss to mix thoroughly. Continue to toss until the carrots and radish soften slightly. Let sit until ready to serve.
- Make the sauce: Combine the tahini, ume plum vinegar, miso paste, water, and garlic in a small food, processor or blender and blend on high to combine. Once fully homogenized, add the cilantro and pulse to chop the cilantro into small flecks. Pour into a bowl or sauce vessel and set aside.
For the rice, tofu, salad, and assembly:
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 block (about 14 ounces) firm tofu
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar or rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons black or white sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 3/4 cup thinly sliced cucumber
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro, plus cilantro leaves for garnish
- 1 sheet toasted nori seaweed, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- To make the rice: Place the rice and water in a medium saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil (about 5 minutes). Once it boils, reduce the heat to the lowest setting possible and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes, covered, until the water has evaporated and the rice is fluffy. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- To make the tofu, preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Drain the tofu and cut it into 2-inch-long by 1/2-inch-thick slabs. Lay the tofu evenly on the baking sheet, with 1/2 inch between each piece.
- In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, ume plum vinegar, ginger, sesame oil, and olive oil until well combined. Pour over the tofu, coating evenly so that the bottom of each piece also gets some marinade. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, allowing them to cover both the top and the sides of each piece of tofu. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, checking at 15 minutes to assess the level of crispy brownness. Remove when the desired crispiness has been reached!
- To make the salad, mix the lime juice, cucumber, cilantro in a small bowl. Season with salt. Let sit until ready to serve.
- To assemble, place the nori, avocado, extra cilantro, cilantro tahini sauce, quick pickles, cucumber lime salad, tofu, and rice on the dining table with bowls and serving utensils and let everyone create their own work of bowl food art.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!