A bowl of gratitude

I Am DIY Rice Bowl

A few times a year I’ll become obsessed with a particular dish from a particular restaurant. My appetite tends to be a tumultuous and fickle thing, and some days I’ll parade every food I can think of before my mental stomach and only to have each one met by nausea. It is then that my thoughts turn to the magic dish, whatever concoction it is that has become, not just an obsession, but somehow the only thing my body finds acceptable. Right now that panacea-on-a-plate is the absurdly named I Am Accepting Sushi Rice Bowl from a restaurant called Cafe Gratitude.

Cafe Gratitude is a kind of pricey, mostly raw, entirely vegan restaurant with three locations around the Bay Area. The general response around town to CG’s very particular aesthetic seems to be a mixture of disdain, confusion, and either worshipful or grudging appreciation of the food. Be that as it may, that singular rice bowl has become, for me, an addiction.

I crave this dish to the point that I really can’t be running off to spout affirmations and spend $10 every time I want a warm spoonful of nutty red rice with kale and avocado that feels in my mouth like the superpowered pinnacle of all that is healthy and nourishing. I even tried sneaking a look at the recipe given in the I Am Grateful cookbook, for sale at all CG retail outlets, but the recipe was quite clearly not the one used by the restaurant. Today I happened to come across a gorgeous post on 101 Cookbooks with a recipe for Poached Eggs Over Rice, and since this was almost what I wanted, but still not quite the thing, I was inspired to call the cafe and just ask them what’s in that bowl of Acceptance.

This turned out to lead to one of those magical, karmic CSA-box experiences. Rory over at CG very nicely looked up for me the components in the dressing, which was the heretofore missing piece. And so I realized I was going to have to make my reproduction without scallions, cucumber, avocado, and orange juice – and that’s a lot of flavor elements to lose. The avocado I was already planning to substitute with poached egg, but the orange juice was especially sad, since my palate immediately recognized OJ as vital to the brightness of the dish.

But when I headed off to see if I had any greens in my as-yet unpacked box, I found that not only did I have a lovely bunch of collards, but that this week’s box also brought two unexpected ingredients: a bunch of fat scallions and three navel oranges!

In short, this dish turned out amazing, easily equal to if not tastier than the original, and well able to satisfy those cravings with very little effort. And so from now on I think you’ll find that, if I’m going to be declaring aloud my general state of acceptance, I’m going to be doing it in my pajamas.

The recipe for the I Am DIY Rice Bowl (modified from the 101 Cookbooks recipe) can be found below the more… tag.

I Am DIY Rice Bowl
(with deep gratitude to 101 Cookbooks and Cafe Gratitude)

I know this recipe looks long, but it is incredibly simple!

Dressing (for lemon-ginger variation, see end of recipe):
4 T. orange juice (freshly squeezed if you can get it!)
1/4 t. salt
1 T. olive oil
1 T. tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
1 T. rice vinegar
1/2 t. toasted sesame oil

1 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 dried serrano chile, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
4 small garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2-3 tightly packed cups of greens (I used half collards and half purple kale)
2-3 cups cooked black Chinese “forbidden” rice (or other nutty rice – brown or red Bhutanese)
2 large or 3 small scallions, coarsely chopped
3 eggs (or 1 ripe avocado for a vegan version)

Toasted sesame seeds
Toasted nori (seaweed) cut into small pieces

To make the dressing: Stir together salt and orange juice and let sit a few minutes. Stir in olive oil, then add tamari, vinegar, and sesame oil. Set dressing aside.

To prepare the rice dish: Devein greens and slice into short, very thin strips. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, then add in onion, salt and serrano chile. Cook, stirring, until onions just begin to brown. Add in garlic and greens, and cook, stirring, until greens wilt and become tender. (You may want to add a bit of water and cover the pan to steam the greens a little if they begin to brown or burn before they get tender.) Add in the cooked rice* and cook, stirring, until the rice is heated through. Add in the scallions and remove pan from heat. Stir in dressing. Cover to keep warm.

To poach the eggs: (There are a lot of different techniques for poaching eggs, mostly aimed at not getting traily bits of white all over the pot. I couldn’t be bothered, and so I just ignored those and the main body of the egg came out beautifully. Here’s what I did.) Fill a small pot with water and bring to a simmer. Crack an egg into a small bowl. Lower the bowl into the water and slide the egg out. Cook until the whites are opaque and then a bit longer than that to ensure everything is well cooked. The yolk is still runny at this point, so cook longer if you want a firmer yolk. Remove with a slotted spoon.

To assemble: Pile rice mixture in a bowl and gently top with a poached egg (or chunks of avocado). Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and nori bits liberally on top. YUM!

*A note on cooking the rice: This was the first time I’d cooked with Chinese black “forbidden” rice, so I had to do a little research. It basically seemed as though you cook it like brown rice, so I did, in my food steamer. I ended up adding about 5 extra minutes to the cooking time, and then it came out perfectly. Be aware: This rice is NOT the same as black glutenous Thai rice, which is used to make sticky rice pudding and the like. That rice wouldn’t work for this dish. But another “toothy” rice, like short-grain brown rice or red Bhutanese, would be great.

April 7 Update – A variation on the dressing: I didn’t have any oranges left today, so I made a lemon-ginger dressing which was terrific as well. In place of the 4 T. of OJ, use 2 T. lemon juice, 2 T. water, 1 T. finely grated ginger with juices from grating, and sugar to taste (I used about 2 teaspoons).

27 comments on “A bowl of gratitude

  1. Ms Heather says:

    Ohhh, that looks so good. I haven’t found forbidden rice outside the Bay Area. But I should check Whole Foods here; maybe it’s made its way here by now. Otherwise, I suppose I could order it online.

  2. erika says:

    I just joined eatwell, too. i TRY to make it to the farmers’ market, but never do, so back to the box. i love rice bowls, so i look forward to trying your recipe!
    thanks again.

  3. christine says:

    This looks amazing – and it’s making me crave it even though I’ve never had it. I’ll definitely be making a trip to Cafe Gratitude.

    I’m toying around with the idea of joining a CSA, so I look forward to seeing what you cook up!

  4. Julie says:

    I stumbled upon CG in SF last week and I also ordered the sushi bowl – it was so delicious! You are right about how eating it gave an instant healthy feeling =)

    As I was eating, I analyzed the ingredient so that I can make it at home. I look forward to replicating this myself. I believe the dressing contained ginger and soy sauce…

  5. […] Eatwellian In My Box has a yummy-looking rice bowl recipe that will use kale, eggs, serrano peppers, and orange juice. I’ll probably make a smaller […]

  6. Sandra C says:

    Thank you for doing the legwork and pulling together the secret dressing! I’ve made it twice already now and love it. It prompted me to try japonica rice and I’ve already gone back to Rainbow for a couple pounds of it.

  7. foodhoe says:

    Great post! I am hooked up with the Terrafirma CSA, and get a much smaller box, but find your site to be inspiring.

  8. cyanowski says:

    wow! thanks so much for this – indeed, i was craving the sushi bowl so much i decided to see if cafe g had a recipe posted anywhere on the internet. thanks again.

  9. scrumptious says:

    I’m so glad you all are enjoying the recipe! Let me know how this version compares to your memory of the CG version, and if you have any tweaks.

  10. isabella says:

    who are you? are you me? because this post could have been written by me – from the fixation on this dish from gratitude, to the membership with eatwell, to the decision and determination to re-create the above-mentioned rice bowl.
    you are not me. you are several steps ahead of me! you figured out how to make “accepting” and you’ve posted it online. Vielen Dank!

  11. scrumptious says:

    Oh Isabella! I love finding my twins on the internet!

    And I love meeting fellow Eatwell members. Are you on the Yahoo group?

    I am sure we have plenty of recipes to exchange in our future, since our tastes are so similar…

  12. Teresa says:

    I can’t thank you enough for this. This is one of my absolute favorite dishes of all time. Unfortunately, both the price and the atmosphere of CG keep me from eating it as often as I would like. Between this and the sloppy sushi I learned to make from you, my craving for salty/tangy/nori dishes can be satisfied for just a fraction of what I would normally spend.

    • scrumptious says:

      Teresa, this is the best comment I could possibly imagine! I am so glad these recipes have become parts of your salty/tangy/nori life. That is one of my most intense categories of craving, too, and I am so happy to have inexpensive, not-too-labor-intensive ways to satisfy my desires.

      Isn’t it crazy how much the sushi rice bowl at CG went up? They halved the portion for the same price, and then offer the old portion at a sky-high price, so what used to be a “Well, it’s a treat, I’ll indulge this once” meal has turned into something I just can’t stomach paying for, ever. I did recently have it at the Berkeley CG when my mom took me out, and they had even switched from the old nutty red rice to plain ol’ brown. Disappointing!

  13. Janet Rulifson says:

    Thank you for the recipe. We stopped in Healdsburg today and I had this for the first time. It is several hours later and I am already craving it. I am anxious to find the rice and try it out. I think this will be a new basic at our house.

  14. MG says:

    Thanks for posting this recipe! I miss CG now that I’ve moved to the East Coast and am going to pick up the recipe book. I am a little disappointed that it doesn’t include the full recipe, but maybe I’ll fare better with the others. I can’t wait to make this!

  15. Corey says:

    OMG, this sounds so good. I worked at the Whole Foods Oakland store and would always buy these as well as the I Am Grateful bowls with quinoa, kale, and black beans.

  16. Victoria says:

    I think I love you. Finding this page may be the single most gratifying event in my internet browsing career. Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU!!!

  17. […] Dishes Italian Rice and Beans I Am DIY Rice Bowl Spiced Potatoes with Lentils and […]

  18. […] Forbidden Rice Bowl with Black Rice and Greens – 1 pt. […]

  19. […] Friday Rice bowl with leeks, collards, chard and avocado […]

  20. Jeanette says:

    This looks amazing!!! I can’t wait to try it.

  21. Hen says:

    I like so many things about this piece of writing! thanks for sharing…

  22. Shiny says:

    Thank you so much for the recipe! We used to live in the Bay Area and I was addicted to this dish at Cafe Gratitude and have not been able to recreate it. I too bought the Cafe Gratitude cookbook just for this dish — and was so disappointed that it wasn’t in there. So grateful that you managed to figure it out. I’ll be trying this dish out tonight!

  23. Nicole Levine says:

    Just wanted to tell you I’ve been using (and loving) this recipe for years! Thank you so much for recreating a dish I was also obsessed with at Cafe Gratitude (RIP!)

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