My sister Christine has long been a consumer and constructive critic of my cooking. When we were kids, we’d walk home from school together and I’d be in charge of our after school meal. A lot of our friends had babysitters and nannies, but I guess my mum and dad both trusted us enough to behave and not burn the place down.
Our after-school routine consisted of arriving home and immediately making a mad dash – Christine upstairs and I downstairs – to the bathroom because 1) both of us had an aversion to school bathrooms, and 2) that walk home was long – at least back then it seemed so. After that business was taken care of, she would organize our TV entertainment. This was usually something wholesome like Full House, Family Matters, Boy Meets World or Blossom, but occasionally Maury Povich because those paternity test episodes were just too good to miss. (Speaking of Full House, did you know that Fuller House launched on Netflix last week? I don’t have Netflix but I may need to get it for this sole reason. It was one of the ONLY shows I watched and in my head, the Olsen Twins and I were besties.)
Meanwhile, my job was to make Kraft Dinner. At this time of my childhood (about 8-10 years old) I was swimming competitively 5 times per week, playing basketball in the fall/winter and soccer in the spring/summer. Needless to say, I had an appetite almost as large as that of my 6’3″ dad.
When it came to the Kraft Dinner, we were never the kind of kids who liked hot dogs chopped up and tossed in. My sister liked hers straight up, whereas I was particularly fond of topping mine with tuna and dousing it in ketchup. And yes, I realize admitting to that fact may have just cost me a few readers. Thank goodness, I’ve become far more gastronomically sophisticated over the years.
I had Christine’s stamp of approval on all the important things kids should know how to make – Kraft Dinner, popcorn, Ravioli and Kool Aid to name a few. As we got a little older, she’d happily eat a lot of the meals I made (they weren’t all junk food, I promise), and if I ever totally missed the mark, I knew I could count on her to let me know.
On one occasion, I attempted some sort of baked chicken dish and after taking a couple of bites, I asked how it was. Always one to be very honest with her feedback, she responded, “Well…. it sort of tastes like a lemon-scented cleaning product.” Point taken.
A few years later Christine became a vegetarian, and no, my lemony cleaning product chicken was not the final straw. She’s been a lover of dogs and pretty much all animals (except cats) since she was old enough to know they existed, so her decision was pretty much all about animal welfare.
As you guys know, I love cooking and experimenting with all sorts of foods. My sister on the other hand, isn’t a cook but she loves to bake. She’s great at it too, and has created all sorts of gorgeous cakes that have earned her quite the reputation. But when it comes to cooking actual meals, she’s what I’d call a convenient carb-atarian – as in, you won’t find her going through great lengths to wash up a bunch of greens, steam vegetables, soak lentils, boil chickpeas, or marinate tofu.
She’ll eat these things when it’s convenient (like at restaurants) but doesn’t normally cook them for herself. Therefore, whenever I have the rare opportunity to prepare meals for her, I try to make dishes that get her pumped up about eating more plants.
At Christmas when we were back in Bahrain visiting my dad, Christine and I got into quite a lively discussion about how great tofu can be if it’s done right. There’s nothing exciting about a block of tasteless, off-white, jiggly soy, but if you drain all the moisture out and give it a nice long bath in a super flavourful marinade, then you’re talking.
One night I made Christine some spicy tofu that I prepared by improvising with some ingredients from my dad’s kitchen. It was so good (and she thought so too!) that I’ve incorporated it into a new dish that those of you who love sushi will be on board with.
This Ultimate Spicy Tofu Sushi Bowl is full of the usual sushi restaurants suspects – avocado, carrots, cucumber, arame seaweed, and pickled ginger – all on a lovely bed of cauliflower rice (because Miss Cauliflower over here still can’t stop the cauli train). For all my vegan and vegetarian friends, don’t worry – there’s no raw fish in here. However, if you do want to add some in, a little ahi tuna or salmon sashimi would be the bomb diggity.
The Ultimate Spicy Tofu Sushi Bowl
Prep Time: 20 mins + marinating time
Cook Time: 20 mins
Ingredients (3 servings)
For the tofu (you may have some marinade leftover):
- 2 tbsp each sriracha sauce, low sodium tamari, rice vinegar and water
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove minced garlic)
- pinch of stevia
- 1 x 350g package firm tofu, well drained and patted dry
For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp light miso
- 1 tbsp each rice vinegar and water
- 2 tsp low sodium tamari
- 1 tsp sesame oil
For the cauliflower rice:
- 1/2 medium head of cauliflower
For the rest:
- 1/2 cup soaked seaweed of choice (I used arame seaweed and soaked it in warm water for 5 mins)
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, julienne cut
- 1 1/2 cups cucumber, diced
- 3/4 cup shelled edamame
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- pickled ginger and sesame seeds, to garnish
Whisk together all ingredients for the tofu marinade and pour the sauce into a large resealable bag or a sealed container with a lid. Chop the tofu into 1 inch cubes and gently place them into the marinade. Refrigerate for 4-8 hours, stirring the cubes around half way for maximum absorption.
When ready to prepare the rest of the meal, whisk together all ingredients for the dressing and transfer to a small jar.
Place the seaweed in a bowl of warm water and allow it to soften.
Working in batches with your food processor, pulse the cauliflower florets until they break down into pieces about the size of cooked rice grains. Transfer to a large bowl.
Drain the water off of the seaweed and stir in 1 tbsp of the miso dressing. Pour the rest into the cauliflower rice and stir to evenly distribute.
Prepare the rest of the vegetables as indicated above.
Heat a frying pan or wok over high heat for 30s. Add the marinated tofu cubes and a few tablespoons of the marinade. Stir fry until the tofu is hot throughout and the sauce has thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the wok from the heat.
Distribute the seasoned cauliflower rice between bowls, followed by the carrots, cucumber, edamame, avocado, arame seaweed and tofu.
Top with pickled ginger and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
So tell me…
- What’s the most interesting/hilarious comment you’ve received related to your cooking? I once made peanut butter cookies using whole wheat flour because I wanted to make them healthier. They were soon re-named peanut butter bullets because after cooling, the cookies were rock hard. Clearly my sister got the baking gene!