Rice Bowl with Fennel, mushrooms and zucchini

This is one of my favourite meals, inspired by the Korean Bibimbap bowl. It has a grain as the base and lots of different vegetables and can be mixed up endlessly. The apple adds a lovely fresh touch and breaks up with richness of the sauce. Depending on how hungry I am, I sometimes add a boiled egg or a finely sliced omelette, some sliced avocado or tofu. This time I used lightly caramelised fennel, zucchini and mushrooms, but I’ve made this with broccoli, carrots and lightly sautéed spinach. For the sauce, I use shoyu, peanut butter and crushed pepper, feel free to use tamari or regular soya depending on what you prefer. Any nut butter will taste great as well, like almond or cashew: the only thing to watch for is that its a pure nut butter, with no sugar or other additives. I use whole peppercorns that I crush with a mortar and pestle - I love the fiery intensity this releases. Freshly ground pepper from a mill is perfectly fine, just less spicy. As for the grain - the rice can be replaced with wild or brown rice, quinoa or barley. Top with some fresh rocket and or sesame and voila, you have a bowl full of amazing fresh flavours.

1 cup rice, washed and cooked
1 medium fennel bulb, finely sliced
4 brown mushrooms, finely sliced
1 medium zucchini, cut into strips
1/4 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1/2 an apple, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon whole peppercorns, crushed or freshly ground pepper (see note above)
1 teaspoon ghee
3 tablespoons shoyu
1 heaped teaspoon peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon honey
sesame oil
a pinch of salt

Heat half a teaspoon of ghee in a medium pan on medium-low heat. Once its melted, add the ginger and stir until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the sliced fennel and stir together. Add a pinch of salt, increase the heat to medium. Cook the fennel for about 5 - 6 minutes, until lightly caramelised and then remove to a bowl. Replace the pan to the stovetop, add the remaining half teaspoon of ghee and when melted, add the sliced the sliced zucchini. Stir for a couple of minutes and then add the sliced mushrooms. Stir together on medium heat and once the mushrooms start wilting slightly, add the pepper. Mix together well and allow the vegetables to saute.

Whilst the zucchini and mushrooms are cooking, mix together the shoyu, peanut butter and honey in a small bowl. If you’re having difficulty mixing them together, add a tiny splash of hot water. Once the vegetables are cooked through, reduce the heat and add the sauce to the pan. Allow to bubble gently for a minute or two and then turn off the heat.

To assemble, place the rice in a medium bowl and arrange the vegetables and the chopped apple in segments over it. Divide any remaining sauce from the pan over the vegetables. Top with sesame seeds and/or fresh rocket, drizzle with little sesame oil and serve immediately.

Serves two as a main

Prep time: 10 minutes, cooking time: 20 minutes


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