A Shrimp Quinoa Buddha Bowl recipe, vibrant in color from veggies and fruit, protein rich from seasoned quinoa in Asian satisfying flavors.
Somewhere between the far eastern and middle eastern is what this Buddha Bowl Recipe is all about!
Buddha Bowl Intrigue
The father of my oldest son is Korean, a Buddhist Korean.
While we never married (long, unbelievable story for a Hollywood film), our time together was a crash course in Asian food, traditions and customs.
While we often ate out, while dating, there were times he would go into my kitchen to scramble some eggs, always with soy sauce and a pinch of sugar.
He would fish out a bowl from my cupboard, not just any ole cereal or soup bowl, he wanted a bowl that had weight, ceramic for sure, and fit comfortably into the palm of his hand.
My square soup bowls would not do, neither would the bowls that were low and very open.
The Ambiance Of The Buddha Bowl – Bowl
Once he designated which bowl would be his favorite bowl, he then went to the fridge and began pulling pieces of this, chunks of that, a little drizzle of something else, a scoop of leftover rice.
I intently watched him pick up some chopsticks and sit down to slurp (totally slurp), and indulge in a bowl of whatever he felt like putting in his bowl.
Buddha Bowl Simplicity
This, my friends, is really all a Buddha Bowl is. I assure you, it was not called a Buddha Bowl in the early 80’s, when they first became trendy in American cuisine.
It was Martha Stewart who made them popular ‘by name’, in 2017; thanks Martha.
Japanese food was most often the restaurant cuisine my guy and I (back in the 70’s), would frequent.
If he wasn’t eating sushi, he would often order lots of small (really small), bowls of this and that, a bowl of rice and then proceed to do the same as he did in my kitchen.
He’d put rice in larger bowl, pieces of this and that on top, and then hold the bowl up under his face, with chopsticks, and slurp.
By the way, slurping from a bowl is acceptable in Asian dining.
The bowl of food quickly vanished. In a Korean restaurant, he did exactly the same, always, of course, putting kimchi on top.
Buddha Bowl Trend
Fast forward to now, several years after the Buddha Bowl became the trend and I decided to make my own healthy, colorful Buddha bowl.
It was for a quiet Valentine Dinner at home, but just think of the many other evenings you want something special and easy to enjoy for dinner at home.
Not everyone has some wildly romantic date for Valentine Day, and so I wanted to make this dish feel and look extra special. And guess what? No one would hear me slurping!
What Exactly Is A Buddha Bowl?
As the story goes, without getting into religious teachings here, let’s just say ‘The Buddha’ went from riches to rags, by choice.
Taking a bowl of rice around from neighbor to neighbor for their charitable offerings of this and that to put atop his bowl of rice.
The Buddha Bowl really just started like that. A balance of healthy, nourishing bits and pieces of charitable offerings from those who valued his teachings.
The Importance Of The Bowl
As I described the hunt in my kitchen cupboard, many years ago, for the perfect ‘feeling’ bowl, the bowl used in a Buddha Bowl is really more than just a vessel to eat out of.
In western thinking it is believed that the weight of a bowl in the hand, is likely to make your brain think the food is more substantial. (How we love to turn everything into a psychology!)
In Eastern thinking it is believed that having the flavorful aroma of the Buddha bowl right below your nose, brings the senses a comfort and satisfaction. I’ll buy that theory!
I have a collection of bowls that would be most desirable for a Buddha bowl, a few having actual grains of rice imbedded in their construction.
I find these easy to comfortably hold in one hand, yet weighty enough to feel substantial.
While quinoa, as the grain in our bowl, does not originate from the Asian countries, it certainly has become a popular grain in our American cuisine, because of it high nutritious content.
Quinoa has been around for a long time throughout South America, particularly Peru where it has always been considered an ancient grain.
I prefer quinoa, in a Buddha bowl, as to rice which I prefer in my Mediterranean dishes, because it is almost three to four times higher in nutritional properties.
The importance of the extra nutrient properties of the quinoa in this dish makes up for not using heavier proteins, such as meat or poultry.
Affordable Shrimp Buddha Bowl
If we are looking for the most inexpensive seafood to use in our Buddha bowl, it would probably be cod, mackerel and sardines, two of these often found as pantry fish.
However, if we are in want of an affordable seafood for our healthy bowls, shrimp often fills the requirement in both price and certainly flavor.
Keeping a few bags of shrimp in the freezer is just a wise idea for quick meals on busy days. In fact, some of my best ‘busy day’ meals have been made with shrimp!
- Japanese Fried Shrimp Balls – a fabulous dish to make for an Izakaya (Japanese Tapas), spread
- Grilled Shrimp Salad – in my home is a Mediterranean orzo salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and summertime herbs straight from the garden.
- 30-Minute Homemade Shrimp Ramen – Fish stock, shrimp, bonita flakes and a menage of Asian flavors will have this Ramen in your bowl in less than 30-minutes.
- Pea Pesto Shrimp Wontons – a favorite lunch or appetizer to celebrate peas growing in my garden each June.
- Shrimp and Grits Kabobs – can’t forget shrimp and grits but with my Mediterranean twist.
- Moqueca Brazilian Fish Stew – a fabulous dish I made on The Great American Recipe show on PBS
What Goes Into A Buddha Bowl?
The quick answer is: Anything. As we westerners have been taught to eat from the balanced food pyramid; grains, veggies, fruits, proteins, so too is the Buddha Bowl a balance of these very same food choices.
Visuals are the second most considered aspect when choosing what to put in a Buddha bowl.
And no, a Buddha bowl is not a mish-mash of foods, resembling a casserole!
The visuals must be pleasing to the eye. Individual colors and textures, flavors and appearances are what we are after.
Family Dining and The Bowl
If you have ever eaten at a family style Chinese or Indian restaurant (or home), there is often a Lazy-Susan in the center of the table.
On it, a huge variety of carefully chopped items in lots of small bowls, have been placed. Some of the items are pickled veggies, or sautéed roots, smoked fish or slivers of fruits.
An assortment of sauces will also be in the center with these bowls. Each person has a bowl of some type of grain in front of them, could be rice or a rustic wheat berry, quinoa or steamed millet.
As the Lazy-Susan turns, each person selects items to put on top of their bowl of grain, a splash of sauce and the meal goes on and on like this until all the bowls are empty.
This, is very much what a Buddha bowl is and how it got its concept for becoming a trendy dish here in America.
My Shrimp Quinoa Buddha Bowl Recipe
Since Buddha went around accepting love offerings from people for his bowl of grains, I went to my fridge to see what love offerings it had for my bowl of grains.
I think if we go about our Buddha bowl from any other perspective (like, go out and buy an array of fancy things to put in it), we’re missing the point of this very humble bowl of food.
Veggies and Fruit In My Buddha Bowl
First I went looking for veggies I wanted in my bowl. Zucchini first grabbed my attention, a few cherry tomatoes and carrots.
But then I wanted the acidity of a fruit. Looking right at me was a big ole fresh pineapple. I began to cut each of these into pretty bite size pieces.
Shrimp and Quinoa Protein
While I could have opened a can of chick peas or black beans as my protein, I wanted something a little more special. After all it was for a Valentine Dinner.
I went into the freezer for some shrimp; a lean, humble protein. Went to the pantry for some quinoa, and before 30-minutes had passed, I had a beautiful and delicious meal to enjoy all by myself!
- Cherry tomatoes
- Celery seed
- Toasted sesame oil
- Pomegranate molasses
- Large Sauté pan with a lid
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cup
- Slotted spoon
- Stovetop or burner
Shrimp Quinoa Buddha Bowl
- Large saute pan with lid
- 1 1/2 cups Cooked Quinoa – 1 ½ cups cooked quinoa (see notes)
- 1-2 cups Raw Shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 1/2 cups Zucchini sliced
- 1 1/2 cups Carrots sliced
- 1 cup Pineapple sliced
- 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes halved
- 1/4 cup Shallots finely sliced
- 1 Garlic clove crushed
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Celery Seeds
- 1 tbsp Toasted Sesame oil
- 1/4 cup Pomegranate Molasses homemade if not available
- One large saute pan to prepare in. Place half inch of water in the pan, bring to a boil, and drop zucchini and carrots in for no more than one minute. Remove them quickly so they remain crunchy.
- Remove excess water from the pan. Over medium heat add oil, shallots, garlic, shrimp, salt, and celery seeds. Toss until shrimp begins to turn pink. Add pomegranate molasses and stir. Quickly toss in tomatoes and pineapple. Stir and remove from heat after one minute.
- Plate. Place quinoa into two medium large serving bowls. Add the shrimp mixture on top, veggies, a little sauce from cooking the shrimp, drizzled on veggies and quinoa, and this lovely dish is ready to serve in under 30 minutes.