This brown rice bowl is super satisfying and really quick to prepare. It’s the kind of dinner I never tire of, in fact, I’ll usually prepare extra to have for lunch the next day. I love that I can use whatever vegetable I have in the fridge and, aside from the salmon, the rest is usually in the cupboard already. The secret to this dinner idea is seasoning the rice. It makes the biggest difference and adds a huge amount of flavour without much effort.
I’ve suggested salmon here but you could use any other kind of fish or protein of your choice. Poached chicken breast is great or sometimes I pan fry firm tofu too. Other times I just up the vegetables and omit a protein altogether. The star is the rice though, so use it as your base to build the kind of bowl you want. Sometimes I replace the cucumber with kimchee which is really delicious too! If you can’t find a grain vinegar, such as rice vinegar, the closest substitute is a good quality apple cider vinegar.
Instead of just plain sesame seeds, I often scatter furikake on top of the salmon – a dry seasoning mix which can be found at Japanese grocers. We make our own though, by simply mixing toasted sesame seeds, dried chilli, finely chopped nori, sea salt and finely chopped dried lemon peel. You can definitely experiment though, there are plenty of variations. I make a big batch and keep it in a jar in the cupboard ready to boost a meal at any time!
Ingredients (serves 4 generously)
4 x150g pieces of boneless salmon, skin on
Olive oil, for frying
Seasoned brown rice
2 cups brown rice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp grain vinegar
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely grated
1cm piece of ginger, finely grated
1tsp each of black and white sesame seeds, toasted
Sea salt, to taste
Olive oil, for frying
Quick pickled cucumber
2 Lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 tbsp caster sugar
Large pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp grain vinegar
Any steamed vegetable of your choice. Some of my favourites are sugar snap peas, snow peas and broccolini
Black and white sesame seeds, toasted
Coriander, to serve
Snow pea tendrils (optional)
Miso soup (optional)
For the seasoned rice, rinse the rice thoroughly then cook until tender using your preferred method. For brown rice I just like to boil it in plenty of water and then drain. The absorption method is perfect too.
While the rice is cooking, prepare the seasoning by mixing all of the remaining ingredients together in a bowl and whisk with a fork to combine. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Pour over the cooked rice and mix until all the grains are coated. Keep warm.
For the pickled cucumber, combine the ingredients in a small bowl and using your hands, mix everything, squeezing and scrunching the cucumbers gently. This ensures the cucumber slices are well coated but also speeds up the pickling process. Taste and check that the pickles well balanced, adding more sugar, salt or vinegar if needed. Set aside.
For the salmon, rub some olive oil on each fillet and season generously with sea salt. Heat a large pan over a high heat and when very hot, place the salmon in the pan, skin side down, and cook for 2-3 minutes. The salmon is ready to be flipped when the skin is nice and crispy and can be easily moved from the bottom of the pan. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked through. It should still be a little translucent in the centre.
To assemble the bowls, place a generous heaping of the seasoned brown rice in the bowls. Dress your steamed vegetable of choice with a little sesame oil and sea salt and place some in each bowl. Top with a piece of salmon, some of the pickled cucumbers and some of the snow pea tendrils if using. Scatter over the sesame seeds and serve with a side of miso soup.