Today we’re really going to put the funky in Funky Asian Kitchen. Okra Natto is a mashup I made from two beloved Japanese dishes. It’s an acquired taste for sure, but we wouldn’t be living up to our name if we didn’t challenge you on read more
What shreds like pork, absorbs flavor like tofu, and packs more nutrients per serving than both? Jackfruit! Jackfruit is an incredibly versatile tropical fruit that is grown throughout Southeast Asia. When ripe, it gets sweet, sticky, and yellow-orange and is used in a variety of read more
If you always order Unagi Don at Japanese restaurants, you are going to be thrilled to learn how easy it is to make at home. And how fast! Even making the eel sauce from scratch-which you must because the bottled stuff doesn’t compare, you can have this Japanese classic on the table in less than half an hour. So for those of you looking to get the most out of your time in the kitchen, this one”s for you.
Unagi Don Sauce
Simmer the sauce until it is reduced to a thick, syrupy glaze.
Unagi is freshwater eel. It has the highest amount of Omega 3’s of all seafood as it’s packed with protein, and is a rich source of Vitamins A and D. It is so popular in Japan that there are entire restaurants dedicated to it. And prepping and cooking it perfectly requires so much skill that there are specialized eel chefs.
Luckily for us, almost all of the unagi sold in this country has already been filleted and cooked. Typically found frozen in most Asian grocery stores, the unagi fillets defrost quickly, and just need a quick pass under the broiler. The best quality ones are quite pricey, which is why it’s typically a special occasion treat in Japan and not an every day food item. This is about as luxurious as instant food gets. Keep an unagi fillet in the freezer and you will have a most special meal ready at any time.
Once you cut the unagi into generously sized pieces, it’s time to broil it. First, I line a baking sheet with foil to make cleanup a breeze. Next, lightly spray the foil with oil.
Perfectly steamed rice is an essential part of the Unagi Don experience and just as important as the eel. It soaks up the delicious sauce and turns it into a complete meal. Make sure you start the rice ahead of time so that it’s ready for you when you are done broiling the unagi. Drizzle the rice with some sauce and then lay the unagi fillets on top.
I like to garnish with a spoonful of beni shoga, not only for its pop of bright red color but also for its bracing flavor that cuts through the rich unagi and eel sauce. It’s also common to sprinkle a little sansho powder, which is a type of Japanese peppercorn.
Unagi Don is a perfect weeknight meal. It packs a nutritional punch and now that you know how easy it is, there’s no reason to only enjoy it while dining out. Let me know what you think about this recipe by rating it and leaving a comment below, and don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen; we love hearing from you!
- 2 unagi Fillets (approximately 10-12 ounces)
- Oil Spray
- 4 cups steamed rice
- Sansho pepper powder, optional
- Red beni shoga (pickled red ginger), optional
- ¼ cup Soy sauce
- ¼ cups Mirin
- 2 Tablespoons sake
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
Make the sauce:
- Put the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar in a small saucepan and stir to combine.
- Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, stir once more and cook for 10-12 minutes until the sauce is reduced to a syrupy consistency.
- You will yield about ⅓ cup of sauce.
For the Unagi:
- Preheat the oven with the broiler setting and move the oven shelf to the second from the top.
- Line a baking tray with aluminum. Spray lightly with oil. Cut the eel fillets in half lengthwise and then into 3 pieces to yield 6 pieces total.
- Place the eel on the tray skin side down. Broil the eel for 4-5 minutes and then brush with the sauce.
- Broil for 1 more minute.
- Divide the rice into 3 large bowls. Drizzle a tablespoon of soy glaze over each rice bowl. Top with the eel and a little more sauce.
- Sprinkle the eel with the sansho powder and garnish with a little red ginger, if using, and serve immediately.
Keywords: unagi don, rice bowl, eel sauce, japanese
Soboro Beef bowls are a popular family meal in Japan. Soboro refers to highly seasoned and minced protein typically served with steamed rice and veggies. Endlessly customizable, I make mine with ground beef, scrambled eggs, and snap peas. You can choose ground chicken or turkey, read more
Nothing solves the age old question of, “What’s for dinner, mom?” quite like grain bowls packed with delicious toppings. They are fun, flexible, and economical, and this Ginger Tofu Grain Bowl is a favorite in my house. The gingery, saucy tofu and mildly spicy gochujang sauce (which mixes up in a flash!) get soaked up by the quinoa rice blend, and you know I pack as many veggies as possible in there too.
If you are a meal prepper, then you are really going to love my Ginger Tofu Bowl, because the grains, ginger tofu, spinach, sauce, and mushrooms can all be made ahead of time. Doing the whole lower-carb thing at the beginning of this new year? No problem! Just swap out the grains for cauliflower rice. The real star of this bowl is the ginger tofu anyway.
This bowl is packed with texture, flavor, and color; you’ll never miss the meat. I promise. The easiest way to eat a balanced diet, including reducing animal meat, is by making vegetarian food just as enticing as meat dishes. And the combination of flavors in this dish will really pique your taste buds.
This Ginger Tofu Grain Bowl is a mishmash of a lot of delicious bites that transcend any single cuisine. Like many of the best things, it’s a lovable mutt. And I hope you make a place in your home for this one.
You Don’t Like Tofu?!
If you think it’s bland or mushy, you just haven’t had it properly prepared. When you make this ginger tofu, you are going to become a convert. We have served countless dishes that incorporate ginger tofu in our restaurants and people can’t believe how good it is. And that includes diehard carnivores. If you are looking to cut back on meat, this is a great place to start. Tofu is an excellent source of protein, very economical, and has a lighter footprint on the planet. And when pan-fried with a delectable sauce, it’s going to become your new Meatless Monday BFF.
While three tablespoons of shredded ginger might seem like a lot, those tasty slivers are the best part! This is a great time to practice your knife skills, you want thin and consistently sized ginger matchsticks. (Have you subscribed and received our knife sharpening tutorial? A well sharpened knife is your best companion in the kitchen.)
The tofu is cooked twice. First it is fried in oil to get beautifully browned and crisped. Fried tofu has a delightfully crisp exterior while the interior is tender and pillowy. After it’s nice and crispy, I drain it on paper towels while I start cooking the ginger sauce.
Then it gets bathed in the luscious ginger sauce, until all the pieces are glazed and bronzed. The ginger matchsticks are incredibly flavorful but they also make a beautiful garnish.
Spinach Better Than Popeye’s
The spinach in my Ginger Tofu Grain Bowl is very quick to make. It can also be made ahead, all you Sunday meal prepper warriors. First it gets quickly blanched in boiling water to retain its bright green color. Then I drain it, and squeeze by hand to get out all the excess water. Then chop and season, and it’s done! It will last a couple days in the fridge.
Now that the spinach is done, it’s time to make the sauce, prep the other toppings, and assemble the bowls. Briefly sauté the shiitakes, julienne the carrots, and slice the avocados. Grain bowls are super customizable, so if you have other veggies you’d like to add, throw them in! Red bell peppers, radishes, roasted and diced sweet potatoes- all would be welcome here.
Now for the fun part! You can let everyone assemble their own bowls so everyone gets what they want, or you can have fun crafting these gorgeous bowls all by yourself. Don’t forget to put out the Gochugang Sauce!
Ginger Tofu Grain Bowls are a perfect meatless meal! Enjoy them with your family and tell us about it! If you make them scroll down to rate and leave a comment, and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen.com, show us the goods!
Spicy Gochujang Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons Gochujang
- 1 tablespoon miso
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 6 tablespoons mirin
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 1/2 cups medium grain brown rice
- 2 packages medium firm tofu
- Oil for frying
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons shredded ginger (about 1.5 ounce)
- 6 tablespoons mirin
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 avocado
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 cup steamed and shelled edamame
- 2 bags baby spinach (about 6 ounces each)
- 1 large carrot
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fried shallots for garnish
Make the sauce:
- Combine the gochujang, miso, sesame oil, and mirin in a small bowl using a whisk or fork.
- Whisk until the sauce is smooth and thick.
- Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
- The sauce keeps 1 week in the fridge.
Steam the Rice:
- Rinse the brown rice and the quinoa in a colander.
- Put the grains in an Instapot with 2 1/2 cups of water. (You can also use the stove top method which is listed below in the notes.)*
- Cook on high pressure for 18 minutes and then let pressure naturally release once cooked. Set aside until ready to use.
Cook the Spinach:
- Bring a pot of water to a boil.
- Add the spinach and stir to wilt, about 30 seconds.
- Drain the spinach into a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.
- Squeeze the spinach to remove the water and then roughly chop and put into a small bowl.
- Add the sesame oil and a couple dashes of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Make Ginger Tofu:
- Rinse tofu.
- Cut the tofu in half on the long side. Then cut the tofu blocks into 6 even slices so you have 12 pieces total. Repeat with the other box. Put the tofu on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
- Fill a large skillet with 1/2 inch of oil and heat over medium high heat for 5 minutes.
- Test a piece of tofu by dipping it into the oil. It should start to sizzle immediately. If not, continue heating the oil for several more minutes.
- Add half of the tofu and fry for 3-4 minutes. Your tofu should be golden brown and crisp. Check one piece first. Use a spatula or chopsticks and flip over the tofu. Then flip all of the tofu over and continue frying for another 3-4 minutes.
- Line a plate with paper towels and then lay the fried tofu onto the paper to drain. Repeat with remaining tofu, adding more oil if needed.
- Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Add the sesame oil and the ginger.
- Stir fry the ginger for 1 minute, letting it sizzle and infuse the oil, and then add the soy sauce and the mirin. Stir to combine and then add the fried tofu.
- Mix gently to evenly coat all of the tofu. Cook for 1 minute and then take the pan off of the heat and set it aside.
Prep Veggie Toppings:
- Cut the hard woody stems off the shiitake mushrooms and then cut them into thick slices.
- Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the mushrooms and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let the mushrooms cook undisturbed for 1 minute and then stir. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes and then set aside.
- Peel the carrot and then finely julienne by first cutting the carrot into very thin slices. Then stack the slices and cut through the slices to create thin strands. Set aside.
- Cut the avocado into 4 pieces and then cut the 4 pieces into 4 slices. Fan the slices slightly and set aside.
- Divide the grains into 4 large bowls. Top with the tofu, then the shiitake mushrooms, then the spinach, and then the avocado slices.
- Top each bowl with the edamame and some carrots. Sprinkle some fried shallots on top of each bowl. Serve with the sauce.
*Stove Top Method: Rinse the brown rice and quinoa. Then add it to a pot with 3 cups of water. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat and then stir, cover with a lid, lower heat to medium low, and cook for 25 minutes. Stir the rice once more. Lower the heat to low and continue cooking for 12-15 minutes until fully cooked. (If the grains are still a little hard, add a 1/4 cup of water and continue cooking for 10 more minutes.) Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for 5 minutes before using.
*Whichever method you use to make the grains, it is important to wash the grains before starting. Quinoa has a bitter soapy film coating the grains that needs to be rinsed off.