Thai Buddha Bowl with Peanut Sauce – this clean eating recipe with red rice and a rainbow of veggies is gluten free and vegan friendly.
This is an updated version. Original published Jan. 11, 2016
Konrad and I have been in love with red rice for a few years already. We first got introduced to it while we spent a couple months on Bali in 2012. Bali, and especially Ubud, is a haven for yogis, vegans and healthy food lovers in general.
Since that time red rice is our side of choice. It is a nutritious whole grain that retains a wonderful ‘bite’ during cooking and a somewhat chewy texture. There is even a sprouted version available.
This Thai Buddha Bowl was born in the process!
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What is a Buddha Bowl?
To me a buddha bowl usually consists of a wholesome grain as the base. Red rice in the case of today’s thai bowl, but we also use other varieties of brown rice and quinoa quite often. We usually eat buddha bowls for lunch.
Then there are the toppings. Use fresh/raw or roasted veggies for a vegan rice bowl. But you can also include meat based protein, like some grilled chicken.
And finally, for a buddha bowl sauces are key! To bring all of the above ingredients together they need to be drizzled with a very flavourful buddha bowl dressing.
So essentially it is a grain and veggie bowl with sauce!
How to Make a Buddha Bowl
First, for most buddha bowl recipes I will check the fridge before I start. These healthy bowls are great for combining leftovers into a new exciting dish.
In this red rice bowl I used leftover rice from dinner the night before. If there are no leftover grains, now is the time to put on a pot of quinoa or rice of choice.
Next I check for veggies. Are there leftover roasted ones? Can the fresh ones be consumed raw? If not – like let’s say sweet potatoes – put them on a baking sheet to roast in the oven.
In this Thai rice bowl recipe I warmed the red rice and topped it with raw bean sprouts, matchstick carrots and sliced cabbage, garlic chives and crushed peanuts. Almost like the things you would find in a good Pad Thai – almost.
Since this was lunch I wasn’t too concerned about protein, but you can definitely add some legumes like chickpeas for more of a protein bowl.
How to Make Peanut Sauce
As I mentioned above, it’s the sauces that make a buddha bowl. There are many fresh herb or avocado dressings that you can just blend up quickly (like the delicious avocado salsa in my Mexican Buddha Bowl).
To bring everything together in my Thai Buddha Bowl peanut sauce was of course the perfect choice! It is a cooked sauce that I first made for this spaghetti squash recipe.
Made from all-natural peanut butter and coconut milk, it also includes red curry paste for that distinct Thai flavor. I sweetened the peanut butter sauce with coconut sugar, because Thai peanut sauce always is on the sweet side. Feel free to omit the sugar though, if that’s your preference.
I am surprised I haven’t used the sauce in more healthy power bowl recipes since (aside from these fresh spring rolls), because it is truly delicious! I can almost gobble up the warm sauce straight with a spoon.
Now, I only did one thing different with the sauce this time. I used fish sauce instead of soy sauce. (To make this a vegan buddha bowl, still use soy sauce; and to make vegan + gluten free, use Tamari).
Fish sauce is such an integral part of Thai cuisine and it gives meals an amazing savory, salty (umami!) flavor, but it doesn’t exactly smell great. Fish sauce works its magic in combination with other ingredients.
However, Konrad hates it when I cook with fish sauce, because of the way it makes our apartment smell. So my workaround has been to stir in fish sauce only at the very end. This way it doesn’t actually cook and diffuse into the air.
To me this Thai Buddha Bowl is kind of like a warm salad. I like for the red rice and peanut sauce to be warm, while all the vegetables are fresh and crunchy.
If you prefer a less raw texture and flavor, you could totally sauté the shredded carrots, cabbage and bean sprouts in a little olive oil just to soften them somewhat.
The recipe for the peanut sauce uses a full can of coconut milk (so you don’t have to deal with the storage of leftover milk). This yields more peanut sauce then you need for 2 servings of this Thai Style Buddha Bowl.
The remaining sauce stores well in the fridge for at least a week. Use it up for more Thai rice bowls, and it is also great with other rice dishes, (veggie) noodles or as a dip.
WATCH: How To Make A Thai Buddha Bowl
If you like this Thai Style Buddha Bowl Recipe, please:
- 1 cup cooked red rice
- ½ cup bean sprouts
- ½ cup shredded carrots
- ½ cup shredded purple cabbage
- garlic chives and crushed peanuts for topping
- 1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
- ⅔ cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste (shrimp paste-free red curry paste for vegans)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (Tamari) or fish sauce (for non-vegans)
- Warm leftover red rice or cook it fresh according to directions.
- To make the peanut sauce combine all ingredients except for fish sauce (if using) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil on medium. Then turn heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken the sauce while stirring very frequently. Stir in fish sauce at the end and set sauce aside.
- To assemble the buddha bowls divide the cooked red rice between two bowls and top with bean sprouts, shredded carrot and purple cabbage, garlic chives and crushed peanuts.
- Drizzle with warm peanut sauce to taste (1/8-1/4 cup per serving) and serve.
Products used in this Thai Style Buddha Bowl recipe:
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