It’s bowl season! Superbowl, Fiesta Bowl, Dodge Ram Jeep Wrangler Bud Light Bowl, I thought I’d add one more to the pantheon: the ultimate plant-based bowl. If you’ve been in an urban hip environment at all in the last few months, you will have noticed a new trend marinating its way into the food scene: the bowl. Joints like Rice Mediterranean Kitchen, Della Test Kitchen, MyCevichce, Acaí bowl groupies, or anywhere that sells the phenom Poké bowl (not to be confused with the immemorial Pokéball bowl pictured here):
are emerging as next wave contenders to further stretch the limits of what fast food can culturally and healthily be. Being a conscious foodie, I’ve dipped my toes in constructing my own plant-based bowls. My formula for the ultimate bowl consists of (roughly, by volume) 20% starch, 15% protein, 20% greens, 20% cooked vegetables, 25% raw and fermented vegetables, a boss sauce, and some crunchy garnish. Now there are some overlaps and gray areas. For example, are kelp noodles an adequate “starch” base or are they “raw vegetables”? And cauliflower rice? Don’t beans and legumes contain a significant amount of carbohydrates, enough to be considered “starch”? Quinoa has a lot of protein, so it could also be a starch base. But enough! First some color commentary from “Imagining Cuisine”.
This tempeh time, I decided to go with yellow split peas (no dehulling required) and wild rice with a pinch of dulse flakes to give it a light fishy flavor. After incubation, I took half of the tempeh and boiled it on low in seaweed, coriander seed, fennel seed, lemongrass, garlic, and more dulse for around half an hour to infuse it with flavor and mitigate some of the bitterness. Then, I baked it on 225˚F to slightly crisp and dehydrate it for storage. This product can then be lightly fried or warmed and served right away. It tastes like aromatic fish. I also have been coating it with cricket powder to add B-12 and extra protein to the relatively starchy meat replacement. Here’s the sequence of events, with a final dip in some Green God Pesto sauce:
Now for the tacos. Going off the inspiration for the bowl as well as the geographically appropriate fish taco, I thus assembled my plant-based flavor ship. First, I arranged the components: shredded green papaya (superior jicama substitute), lettuce and herbs, roasted shishito pepper and nopal, boiled sweet potato and summer squash, quick-roasted tempeh and corn tortillas, and an epic basil-cashew-garlic chive-nutritional yeast-coconut water-avocado mayo-coconut oil-turmeric-cayenne-fennel seed-arrowroot powder-dulse flake sauce. No, I don’t feel like writing out a proper recipe. You have to be in a ravenous post-workout culinary trance to create something like this. But basically, you then slather on some sauce, add the green papaya, pull a Noah’s Ark with the rest of the ingredients and chow down.
Here are two of bowls I’ve fused together, along with a picture of a bowl from Rice Mediterranean Kitchen and an Acaí bowl I surreptitiously ate during poetry class. The first bowl I made here has tempeh, orange-ginger sauce, fermented green papaya, and greens. The other one has kelp noodles, wild rice, seaweed, kraut juice, and mixed herbs and greens. The mediterranean bowl has falafel, carrot-tahini hummus, brown rice, greens, boiled vegetables, tzatziki, and spicy sumac sauce. Finally, the Acaí bowl deviates completely from the formula but basically has some sugary Acaí berry-infused ice base, banana, kiwi, berries, granola, and shredded coconut.
Here are links to the relevant bowlers:
To be real, I think I may ironically have an intolerance to tempeh. Aggressive fungal candidiasis, probably. It’s the bull I’ve been wrangling in my body. It took me too long to wake up and feel what was actually happening in my gut, before it became systemic. I know this doesn’t match the tone of the rest of the post at all, but I’d rather be honest because that’s the way to see deeper into this blog. The food blogosphere is already comprised of thousands of how-was-your-day, ooh-yum recipes. Perhaps this is just another one of those. I think I should write about this soon. But the sun is setting here in Miami. Gotta go water the garden, since it hasn’t rained in weeks. Thanks for reading.
Bonus: Maryam, a Division 1 cross country runner here at UMiami has tried my tempeh and recommends it to UUUUUU! Here’s her take on it, ooh is that marble? This is definitely the aesthetic I need for my brand. Thanks, Maryam.