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Bowl food experiments: From pulled oyster mushrooms to sopa de tortillas

After going nuts about Bowls of Goodness recently, I've been unable to leave bowl food alone.

(Out of interest - what is it that makes bowl food so good?  I'm sure I read in some newspaper think-piece that bowl food is a trend towards infantilisation, showing our awful societal inability to cope with grownup crockery or something. Sure. Why not. If bowl food is the end of civilisation, I for one welcome my new semispherical overlord crockery.)

And on to the bowls -- like a kitchen Benjamin Button, I am unable to resist the pastwards pull of bowl food.

May I present to you an attempt at rice noodle bowl, complete with slab of marinated tofu and some crushed peanuts. I even attempted to fancy it up by slicing a lime in that weird way that you sometimes get in restaurants. If bowls are a call to a comforting past, then slicing limes like that is some weird sci-fi view of the future. There's just something weirdly unsettling about it.

I'm very much a fan of getting onto food trends a couple of years after they were hot, so with that in mind, here's some gratuitous avocado shots.

Why has that one slice of avocado decided to go rogue and point to the left when all the others have obligingly lined up the other way? I don't know. Let's just think about pitta bread, hummus, and a very carrot tofu scramble that I made to accompany it.

This isn't really bowl food, is it? I mean, bowl food isn't just about putting your dinner in a different bit of ceramic, is it? It's more about a big heap of grains, some proteins, a few veggies arranged artfully, and as much flavour as you can introduce while castigating yourself about having some predilection for food juvenalia. There's nothing really bowly about this bowl. It's just I happened to put it in a bowl instead of a plate. I feel I've lured you here under false pretences.

Still, the scramble was rather epic. I'm a firm believer in turmeric always having a place in tofu scrambles - even if it's not massively needed for flavour, the sunny colour brightens up a plate. Or a bowl. Y'know, whichever.

This isn't a great photo, but I'm still posting it as was actually pretty amazing: it's pulled pork-esque BBQ oyster mushrooms. I've never had pulled pork in my life, but I'm still quite keen to eat all the vegan versions of it there are in the world. 

Alas, I'll never eat this again, as I tried to find the recipe to link to here and it doesn't seem to exist anymore. Farewell, pulled BBQ oyster mushrooms, I shall never eat you again, because I can't find the bloody recipe. I will remember you fondly, for you helped me get over my fear of oyster mushrooms. I guess most things are pretty awesome when they're covered in homemade BBQ sauce and served with avocado, lentils, and cous cous.

This isn't really bowl food, but I thought it was all sort of interesting. I found them in the freezer of a big Chinese supermarket: they're vegetable and soy milk curry roux balls. They're not something I've ever eaten before, and I'm a sucker for a novel vegan treat.

Also, the photos don't really do them justice - they're actually oompa loompa orange, though I can't work out why from looking at the ingredients. The innards must be made of pure turmeric or nuclear run-off or something, because it was fluorescent. Should have taken a picture of that really, huh? You'll have to take my word for it. Next time a light bulb goes in my kitchen, I'm just sticking one of these in the socket.

And finally, what better to eat from a bowl than soup? It's (quite literally) what bowls were invented for!

This is my attempt at a sort of sopa de tortillas - made with stock, pasilla chiles, carrots, beans, vegan pulled chicken, blue corn tortillas, avocado and soya yoghurt. Of all my bowl experiments, this was my favourite. I've added this to my regular rotation, and I love it. Given it takes about three minutes to make, it tastes disproportionately phenomenal. I guess when it comes to bowl food, simplest is still the best.

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  1. I love a good food bowl! All of these look delicious!!

  2. I laughed at your reference to why bowl meals may appeal, and even more at the rogue avocado. But, seriously, all of these look excellent and I am with you on turmeric for scrambles (and lots of other things!).

  3. One of our favorite dinners is called broccoli bowl. I love food in bowls, especially if noodles are involved. Your collection of food bowls looks delicious. Definitely not for any of the infants I've known. Grownups only. :D

  4. I am a fan of bowl food, but my husband not so much. Ah I feel for you, I wonder why the pulled oyster mushroom recipe is not there, I'd love to try Oyster mushroom pulled pork too as the jackfruit version has been lovely.

  5. I sort of understand bowl food being about infantilisation but I know how the "infant" in my house would react to bowl food so i don't feel that much like a kiddie eating it. I think it is about making food look beautiful and appealing. And you do that so well. Though I have a problem with bowl food always seeming to have avocados - I don't have them that often. I do love learning about the trendy way to cut limes - I mustn't go to the right places as I haven't seem that. Now I think I need some bowl food in my life tonight

  6. Bowl or not, everything looks so good! I haven't really jumped on the bowl wagon myself, mostly because I only have small bowls. I'm intrigued by the lost oyster mushroom pulled pork dish, I would love to try that.


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