California Donburi

Posted by in Gluten-Free, Lovely as Leftovers, Make Ahead


There is something very meditative about eating a meal out of one big bowl. All of the colors and flavors mix together and create different bites each time you dig in. In this particular Japanese dish, “don” which literally translates to “bowl”, there are countless variations. From barbecued eel to breaded and deep-fried pork cutlets, donburi mainly consist of some type of meat over white rice.

Being the veggie-chopaholics that we are, this recipe is a light, California spin on a traditional dish.  In keeping with the Asian flavor-notes, we’ve used brown rice instead of white, and added a variety of Japanese-inspired ingredients. After all, what is tradition for if not to respectfully nod to, and then entirely upheave?



The meat of this big ol’ bowl of food would be the mung bean.  High in protein, fiber, and very easy to digest, mung beans have been used in Ayurvedic cooking and ancient Chinese medicine for centuries. Believed to be “cold” (yin) in nature, they are used help to cool the body from the inside out, improve circulation, and clear and nourish the skin. Because of their detoxifying nature, mung beans are also believed to help speed up recovery from hangovers… so definitely bring a serving with you to the bar next time you head out for drinks. 





There are a few steps of prep involved here, but this recipe will yield a few days worth of meals that you can add to and tweak depending on what you feel. Donburi would also be great for a dinner party. Set out all of the different components and have everyone create their own.


California Donburi

Serves 5

  • 2 c. short grain brown rice, cooked according to instructions
  • 1 1/2 c. dried mung beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 c. peanuts, chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, washed
  • 1 bunch of radishes (depending on their size, about 8-10), washed
  • 1 bunch of carrots (depending on their size, about 5-8 carrots) washed
  • avocado
  • sunflower seeds

Bring 5 c. of water to boil, and cook the dried mung beans for 20 minutes over medium heat. Taste to make sure they are cooked all the way through, then drain and let cool.

Slice the green onions, then chop them roughly, and incorporate the peanuts and continue to chop. When the mung beans are cool, combine the onion peanut mixture with the beans and add 2 tbs of the dressing and mix. Set aside to add to the rice.

Chop the radishes, carrots and avocado and whatever vegetable your heart desires.

When all of the ingredients are prepped, put heaping cupful of rice in a bowl and arrange the toppings on the rice, drizzle dressing and sunflower seeds on last. Voila!

Quick Pickled Asian Cucumbers

  • 1-2 cucumbers, washed and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs. sesame oil
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

Mix all of the ingredients except for the cucumbers in a bowl. Once mixed, add the cucumbers, turn them a few times in the liquid  and set aside while you prep the rest of the Donburi (or if you like them extra cold, store them in the fridge).

Peanut Miso Dressing

  • 1 tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tbs. miso (use whatever kind you prefer, we used brown rice miso)
  • 1 tbs. tahini or peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. rice vinegar
  • 2 tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 tbs. grapeseed oil

Combine and mix well all of the ingredients in a small processor or in a jar with a lid (and shake hard). You want to make sure the miso is incorporated well, to do so, I normally mash the miso into the rest of the ingredients against the wall of the dressing container with a fork.

Dressing adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen.