Japanese macro bowl
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The Chef's Way

Japanese macro bowl

40 mins
to cook the rice

By Peggy Chan
Founder, Managing Director and Principal Consultant of Grassroots Initiative

Vegetarian chef and zero-waste and sustainable dining advocate Peggy Chan took plant-based cuisine to another level, making dishes that even dedicated carnivores would want to eat. She opened her first restaurant in Hong Kong in 2012, and it was such a success she moved to bigger premises. In 2019 she opened a fine-dining vegetarian restaurant, which sadly she had to close.

The Hong Kong-born, Canada-raised chef remains part of the local food scene, but is concentrating on consultation work and training for hotels and restaurants eager to serve more sustainable, eco-friendly food. She is the founder, managing director and principal consultant of Grassroots Initiatives.

Chan’s Japanese macro bowl (often called macrobiotic bowl) is a nutritious, flavourful dish that can be varied according to what you find in the market. She recommends using organic ingredients to make the macro bowl. You should use at least two of the optional toppings.

Ponzu is sold in bottles in the Japanese section of supermarkets. Nama shoyu is Japanese unpasteurised soy sauce.

For the rice bowl
200g (1 cup)
brown rice
1 small bunch pea sprouts
1 small bunch alfalfa sprouts
1 small bunch
sunflower shoots
fine sea salt, as necessary
freshly ground black pepper, as necessary
For the tofu
100g (3½oz)
extra firm tofu
salt and pepper, to taste
15ml (1 tbsp)
sesame oil
For the tahini dressing
45g (3tbsp)
15g (1tbsp)
white miso paste
20ml (4tsp)
lemon juice
filtered water, as necessary
For the seaweed with sesame-ponzu dressing
20ml (4tsp)
20ml (4tsp)
brown rice vinegar
20ml (4tsp)
sesame oil
coconut palm sugar, to taste
1 small bunch
mixed dried seaweed
10g (1tbsp)
black sesame seeds
Optional toppings
Sauteed green vegetables
Sauteed mushrooms
Blanched edamame (soybeans)
Halved cherry tomatoes

Put the rice in a colander and rinse it thoroughly. Drain the rice, shaking off as much water as possible, then put it in a medium-sized pan and add 480ml (2 cups) water. Place the pan over a medium-high flame and bring to the boil. Put the lid on the pan then lower the flame and simmer until done, about 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the rice warm.


While the rice is cooking, prepare the other ingredients and the optional toppings. Make the sesame-ponzu dressing. Put the tamari soy sauce and the coconut sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer until the sugar is melted. Remove from the heat then add the rice vinegar, sesame oil and ponzu. Pour into a bowl and cool to room temperature. Rinse the seaweed then soak it for five minutes in cool water, or until hydrated. Drain the seaweed and squeeze out the excess water. Mix with the sesame-ponzu dressing and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.


Make the tahini dressing. In a bowl, whisk the tahini and white miso paste until smooth. Whisk in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in enough filtered water to thin the ingredients to a light dressing consistency.


Slice the tofu into pieces about 1cm (7/16in) thick. Brush the pieces on both sides with sesame oil, then season with salt and pepper.


Heat a skillet over a medium flame. Lay the pieces of tofu in the skillet and cook until lightly browned. Remove the pieces from the pan. 


Divide the brown rice between four bowls. Add the pea sprouts, alfalfa sprouts and sunflower shoots to the bowl holding the seaweed and mix together. Place the sprouts, shoots and seaweed on top of the brown rice. Add the seared tofu to the bowls, as well as the optional toppings.


Drizzle with the tahini dressing, then serve.


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