A Simple Brown Rice Sushi Bowl

A Simple Brown Rice Sushi Bowl

I first published this recipe in 2007, on page 156 in Super Natural Cooking - the Sushi Bowl. Looking back at the recipes included in that book, this is one that has remained a personal favorite of mine (top five for sure), and from what many of you have told me, it has long been a favorite for many of you as well. Simply stated, we are talking about a de-constructed sushi roll - brown rice, tofu, avocado, toasted nori and green onions served with a tangy, sweet citrus-soy dressing. When I don't have toasted nori on hand, I swap in a handful of crushed kale chips. 
Brown Rice Sushi Bowl

The Citrus Dressing

This dressing rules. You do a quick simmer of a bit orange and lemon juice, and then season it with a bit of brown sugar and rice vinegar. I wrote the recipe calling for orange and lemon, but I often make the dressing with grapefruit or blood orange juice, and it is exceptionally good - puckery citrus sweetness coating the grains of rice throughout each sushi bowl.
Brown Rice Sushi Bowl
So! If you love avocado rolls, this is a tricked out version, in bowl form. So simple, especially if you have cooked brown rice at the ready. This is the sushi bowl from lunch today, made with kale chips in place of toasted nori. If you have guacamole on hand, by all means use that in place of the avocado. Keep it casual & tasty!

Sushi Bowl-ing

When I originally wrote this recipe, it was conceived as a lazy day way to enjoy my favorite sushi roll ingredients. In an attempt to pre-empt comments related to sushi & bowls, I'll leave you with this. I think there is occasional confusion with the idea of a sushi bowl, because the perception is that sushi is the roll itself. But, as Haruhiko mentions in the comments down below, “Sushi is a term that technically refers to the seasoned rice itself. There’s makizushi, inarizushi, chiraishizushi, etc., and what they have in common is the seasoned rice. You don’t need raw fish for sushi to be sushi." xo Haruhiko! Hope this helps!

A Simple, Brown Rice Sushi Bowl

4.14 from 22 votes

I've included the instructions for cooking brown rice here, but when I'm pinched for time I just grab for frozen, pre-cooked brown rice (freeze it yourself, or look for it in the freezer section at Whole Foods).

  • 2 (4-inch) square sheets nori seaweed
  • 6 ounces extra-firm tofu
  • grated zest and juice of one orange
  • grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons (raw) brown sugar (reg. sugar is ok too)
  • 2 tablespoons shoyu sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons (brown) rice vinegar
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice, warm
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  1. Toast the nori in a preheated 300F degree oven or a medium-hot skillet for a few minutes. Crumble or chop coarsely.
  2. Drain the tofu and pat it dry. Cut the block of tofu lengthwise through the middle to make four 1/4-to 1/2-inch thick sheets of tofu. Two at a time, cook in a dry skillet or well-seasoned skillet over medium-high for a few minutes until browned on one side. Flip gently, then continue cooking for another minute or so, until the tofu is firm, golden, and bouncy. Let cool, enough to handle, then cute crosswise into matchsticks (see photo). Repeat with the remaining sheets.
  3. To make the dressing, set the sheets aside. Combine the orange juice lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 1 or 2 minute, the add the shoyu and vinegar. Return to a gentle boil and cook another 1 or 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the zests.
  4. Stir in 1/3 cup of the dressing into the rice and add more to taste. Scoop the rice into individual bowls and top with the toasted nori, green onions, tofu, avocado slices, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.


Makes 4-6 servings.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating


  • In response to Alisunwunderland, I'd say that a lot of people have hijacked the word vegetarian - look at how many of them eat fish! A fish is not a vegetable, and many species are at least as sentient as your average chicken. If you're vegetarian, you eat plants. If you eat animals, you're not. My soapbox moment... I love this recipe, and since I eat an avocado a day, I love all the great new ideas your blog gives me for ongoing variety! Thank you Heidi, and good luck with your nomination - so well deserved.

  • this looks delicious! and perfect, since I'm suffering from serious sushi-withdrawal since I left paris (we lived above a wonderful sushi restaurant, with scallop sashimi, avocado california rolls...i think i'd better stop typing, this is beginning to smack of masochism...) wonderful blog by the way -it's becoming something of an addiction... and best of luck for the nomination!

  • this looks delicious! and perfect, since I'm suffering from serious sushi-withdrawal since I left paris (we lived above a wonderful sushi restaurant, with scallop sashimi, avocado california rolls...i think i'd better stop typing, this is beginning to smack of masochism...) wonderful blog by the way -it's becoming something of an addiction... and best of luck for the nomination!

  • This one looks especially great...

  • Fish is NOT an essential ingredient of sushi. "Sushi" is the shaped seasoned rice "The word sushi itself comes from an outdated grammatical form of a word that is no longer used in other contexts; literally, sushi means "it's sour."" Sushi CAN be vegetarian or vegan. Sashimi is the fish part.... But anyhow, this salad looks great.

  • Fabulous! I just turned 50 and have only recently adopted the all-natural lifestyle. Better late than never, I suppose. Your book put me on the path. When I was younger, I couldn't comprehend people who ate this way. "Why don't you eat junk food like NORMAL people?" lol But as knowledge increases, wisdom kicks in. All the best!

  • Congratulations, I hope you win and I can't wait to make this. It sounds like the perfect summer dish to take to work!

  • hi

  • Haha... I agree with Haru: Heidi, I love your site and even though I don't often cook I look forward to your entries. And I have all the respect in the world for vegetarians. But sushi has fish in it. Californians seem to be trying to hijack the word. But fish is one of 2 essential ingredients of sushi. I'm taking a stand! to quote my lovely foreign coworkers after reading the recipe: "Ha. Americanssssssss"

  • this is a good idea...too lazy for sushi, but not for this tasty dish. I have some brown rice waiting for me, now I know what to do about it. Thanks!

  • We'll have to rename this recipe California Roll Bowl Doesn't have the same ring as Sushi Bowl

  • This is just great, Heidi! The minute I got your book I knew it was worthy of this kind of award. Congrats on the nomination!

    Lucy V
  • This looks delicious, I'll just replace the shoyu with some gluten-free tamari and I'm certain I will have a delicious GF meal! Thanks for sharing. amber :)

    amber :)
  • Congratulations , Heidi! And thanks so much for showing me a whole new world of cooking!! All the best

  • Hi Heidi - the sushi bowl is one of our *favorite* recipes from SNC -- it's so delicious!! We've been having it as a cool supper dish lately, as the weather is warming up. Congrats on the award nomination -- it's certainly well-deserved! I just ADORE your book. --Amy

  • I just made this recipe out of your book last week. Though I've made similar bowls in the past, the dressing really cranked this dish over the top-- really great! Thanks for posting all of these great recipes and ideas. Have fun on your trip!

  • Auguri! I haven't gotten to the sushi bowl yet, but I'm happy as can be working my way through SNC--so far everything I've made from it has become a new favorite.

  • congrats! this recipe is so up my alley, it looks delicious and I've never been known be be able to resist avocado mmm mmm mmm one question, is short grain brown rice the regular brown rice you see everywhere or do I have to look for it specifically?

    • Look for "short grain brown rice" it's definitely different than brown basmati or brown jasmine :).

      Heidi Swanson
  • This sushi bowl sounds incredible, I can't wait to try it. Thanks for helping me venture out to incorporate more tofu into my meals!

  • Yours was one of the first food blogs I discovered when I first tackled this foreign art called "cooking." Thanks so much for showing how easy it is to put together good, healthy meals. I'm glad I discovered your blog.

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