Recipe & Photo by Sophie Mackenzie WHOLEHEARTED EATS


The term wabi sabi represents a complex Japanese world view and aesthetic, but it is often simplified in the west to mean the beauty in imperfection and impermanence. Imperfection and impermanence just happen to be two words which perfectly describe life and everything in it, including dinner in my home. When it comes to cooking, I am not the kind of person to really follow a recipe. Instead, I like to think of myself as the queen of substitutions. Rarely do I ever have all the ingredients I need to make a  near-perfect meal. Ninety-nine percent of the time I am short a desired ingredient that would bring the meal to the next level. Often it’s the case of last time I made this I used yam, this time I will use broccoli. Sometimes this substitution works better than others.The wabi sabi bowl is perfect because it is meant to be imperfect, it strives for imperfection, and that is why it is so delicious. With a simple formula and a tasty sauce, you can let your imagination go wild. It is a wonderful dish to use up left overs, or those veggies which are going bad at the back of the fridge. No rules, no problems, no pressure. One part grains, one part cooked veggies, two parts raw veggies, and one part protein, plus some garnish, and you’re set. I took inspiration for my bowl from a roll of sushi and use avocado, cucumber, edamame, and yams, but just about anything will be delicious.

Grains (Pick 1): Rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, barley, buckwheat, rice noodles.

Protein (Pick 1): Beans of any kind, tempeh, organic tofu, ethically caught fish, eggs, nuts, seeds.

Raw Veggies (Pick 2 or 3): Grated carrot, grated beet root, leafy greens, radish, cucumber, avocado, kimchi/sauerkraut, young asparagus, fresh peas, daikon, sprouts.

Cooked Veggies (Pick 1): Mushrooms, yam/sweet potato, carrot, beet, turnip, squash, zucchini, asparagus, cabbage, kale,egg plant, broccoli, cauliflower.

SERVES:   1 – 2

DIETARY CONSIDERATION:  Vegetarian, Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Gluten Free



  • 1/2 Cup (Uncooked) Brown Rice

  • 1 Medium Yam

  • 1 Cup Frozen Edamame

  • 1/2 Sheet Nori, cut into small strips

  • 1/2 Avocado, sliced  

  • 1/3 English Cucumber, cut into half moons

  • 1 Green Onion, slivered


Tamari Ginger Sauce

  • 1/2 Cup Tamari

  • 2 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar

  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice

  • 2 tbsp Grated Ginger

  • 2 Cloves Garlic, grated

  • 1 tsp Maple Syrup, Agave, or 2 tsp Coconut Sugar

  • 1 tsp Sesame Oil

Quick Pickled Ginger

  • 4 oz. Piece of Ginger (a thumb sized piece)

  • 2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar

  • 1 tsp. Honey or Agave

  • Big Pinch Sea Salt


  • 1 Cup Raw Un-hulled Sesame Seeds

  • 1/4 Cup Dulse, chopped finely (Nori will also work)

  • Pinch Cayenne Pepper


Food Processor or Blender


Bowl: Begin by preparing the rice. Combine the 1/2 up of brown rice with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then with the lid on, turn down to a very low simmer. Cook for about 30- 40 minutes, or until tender. Cut the yam in 1/2 (or in quarters if it is very large), and then into 1/2 cm slices. Toss with 1 tsp oil and roast at 220 C (425 F)  tossing half way though, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender.This is perfect time to get the sauce and ginger prepared. Once the rice and yams are cooked, you can bring a small pot of water to the boil and add the edamame. They only need a couple of minutes to warm up. Once everything is prepared, arrange equally in two bowls and serve with ginger, gomasio, and sauce.

Tamari Ginger Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a bowl, whisking thoroughly. Store left overs in the refrigerator. **If you prefer a thicker sauce, place all ingredients in a small pot, along with 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tsp. tapioca starch with 2 tsp water, and add to the sauce pot.  Let simmer for roughly 20 minutes (long enough for the extra water to boil away), stiring occationally.

Quick Pickled Ginger: Peel the ginger and slice as thinly as possible. Sprinkle the ginger with sea salt and let sit for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, squeeze the ginger, removing the extra moisture. Combine the vinegar, honey, and ginger and let marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Gomasio: Gomasio is a Japanese condiment similar to adding salt and pepper to a meal. Use to sprinkle on rice, and raw or cooked vegetables.  Begin by toasting the sesame seeds in a heavy pan, stiring regualrly until they begin to brown and become fragrant. Add the dulse or nori to the sesame seeds and toast for another minute or so. Take the mixtire off the heat and let cool slightly. Add the mixture to food processor and grind the sesame seeds until about half the seeds are ground finely, but some whole seeds still remain. Store in an airtight container.

Stacey Christie