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Here I chronicle all my vegan explorations in the San Francisco Bay Area, along with other assorted plant-based adventures in my backyard.















Brown Rice Risotto w/Leeks & Shiitake Bacon

Brown Rice Risotto w/Leeks & Shiitake Bacon

This recipe …isn’t real risotto since it doesn’t use arborio rice, but it’s still dang tasty.  Also, it’s for the Instant Pot—which is electric and therefor not super macrobiotic-y. In theory, you should use a (gas) stovetop pressure cooker, but let’s be real here: more people out there have Instant Pots than stove top pressure cookers, and that’s kinda all I need to say about it.  Well, I should add that I have made this in the past with my stove top pressure cooker, and it turned out great. But I love my Instant Pot, and the fact that I can walk away from it and shower, feed the dogs, leave the house; whatever. So while I like my traditional pressure cooker,  the Instant Pot is both more relatable and accessible today.


For the Stock
4-6 dry shiitake mushrooms
2 1/4 cups of water

For the Risotto
2 leeks
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Dash salt
2 cups brown rice
1/4 cup dry white wine 1 tablespoon vegan butter (optional)
Splash of soy milk (optional)

For the Shiitake Bacon
6-8 large fresh shiitakes
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Dash salt

green onions, chives or parsley


For the stock, soak the dried shiitakes in 2 and a half cups of water overnight. When you are ready to start cooking, fish out the mushrooms, cut off the stem, and cut into slices and add back to the broth.

Once the broth is ready, start the risotto. First, wash the rice and the leeks. Slice off the bottom hairy part of the leek and discard. Cut the leek in half length-wise, then in half again. Thinly slice the white part and up until the leek turns just slightly green. This should give you quarter slices of leek. Compost the darker green tops (or save to make vegetable broth later on).

Heat up the Instant Pot in the “sauté” mode. Add the sesame oil, leeks and a dash of salt. Sauté for about 3 - 4 minutes, until the green parts turn bright green, and the white parts turn slightly translucent.  Add the rice and stir. You can add a bit more sesame oil if you think the mixture is too dry. Stir for about 2 - 3 minutes, then add in the wine and stir again.

After stirring the wine for about a minute, add in the broth and sliced mushroom caps. Turn the Instant Pot off, lock the lid into place (with the stem release handle in the sealing position), and then turn back on and hit the manual button. Set the timer for 25 minutes, and walk away. You can cook the shiitake bacon while the risotto cooks. Or just have a glass of wine and let someone else cook the damn shiitakes. Jeeze, you don’t have to do everything around here you know!

Okay, on to the Shiitake Bacon… Prep the fresh shiitakes just like you did the smoked ones: cut off the stem and then slice. Heat up a large sauté pan on the stove. Once it’s hot, add the sesame oil and the sliced mushrooms and gently stir. They are going to soak up the oil fast, but that’s okay, just stir until the mushrooms begin to slightly brown. Turn the heat down to medium-high, and stir again—you don’t want them to burn. After a few minutes, turn the heat down again just slightly, and stir. The idea is for the shiitake slices to take on a brown color with a crispy texture. They will smell smoky, too; so don’t worry, you aren’t burning them. You can add a drizzle more oil if you feel the pan is too dry. Once the mushrooms have become sufficiently crispy and brown remove from the heat.  And even if the mushrooms don’t get crispy, they are still super delicious. 

Once the timer on the Instant Pot beeps, leave the pot on for about 20 minutes and wait for the pressure to come down naturally. Open the top and stir the rice. Since the short grain brown rice doesn’t have the exact same consistency as arborio rice, I like to some vegan butter and a splash of soy milk at this point to amp up the creaminess, but it’s not totally necessary. It’s still delicious even if it’s not as creamy as regular risotto.

Serve in a bowl or plate with some slices of shiitake bacon on top. Sprinkle with minced chives, green onions or parsley. I like to serve this with a cool glass of either California or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Ideally, open up a bottle to use for both the rice, and for dinner.

Serves 2-4


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