japanese-inspired brown rice with mushrooms and tofu

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I’ll spare you the long story of how I ended up with the inspiration for tonight’s dinner. I’ll just say that it started with Starbuck’s new orange spiced iced coffee and ended with me stumbling across a great Japanese food blog and this recipe for mushroom rice. I plan to visit this blog often for future meal ideas!

I love mushrooms. In fact, they may be my favorite vegetable, if you can call them that. I tend to gravitate towards items on a menu that have mushrooms in them. When I found the recipe for mushroom rice and knew I still had some fresh shiitake in my fridge, there was no question what I would be making tonight. I varied from the original recipe because my eating plan requires using brown rice instead of white. I also didn’t have any sake on hand, so I added extra mirin. (With all the alcohol that I have in my house, I was quite surprised not to find any sake. This will be remedied soon!) 

My version of the recipe needs a bit of tweaking since the brown rice doesn’t absorb the flavor as well as white rice would, and I think the textural difference threw me a bit. It was good, but I think it can definitely be better if I experiment some more. I soaked sliced fresh shiitake and ginger in equal parts soy sauce and mirin. I put 3 go of brown rice in the rice cooker and poured the mushroom mixture on top. (A go is the unit of measurement used in Japan to measure rice. Most Asian rice cookers come with a go measuring cup). I added cubed extra-firm tofu to the rice cooker and enough vegetable stock to go up to the 4 go line on the rice cooker. It was my first time making brown rice in this rice cooker, so I will have to read the manual to make sure I’m using the right amount of liquid. My rice was a little on the al dente side tonight. I added extra liquid to account for the mushrooms and tofu, but I’m guessing I needed a bit more. After the rice cooker did its thing, I topped the rice with sliced green onion and some shredded seaweed. I also added a bit more soy sauce to the finished product.

If you don’t own a rice cooker, I strongly encourage you to get one. It can be a great time saver and the quality of the rice is so much better than cooking on the stovetop, not to mention super easy! Don’t get a cheap one at Walmart–I recommend paying a bit more to get a good one, and try to get an Asian brand if you can–they are the rice experts! When my old rice cooker finally gave up the ghost (I think it was at least 20 years old!!!), I planned to get a Zojirushi, but I got a great deal on a Panasonic and I’ve been really happy with it so far. You can cook a lot more than rice in a cooker–it makes great quinoa. Mine can also be used as a slow cooker, and there are even directions in the manual for baking a cake!

My shiitake brown rice, while not a polished dish yet, was still satisfying and gives me another vegan dish to add to my repertoire.

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