Makes about 8 cups.
3 cups COOKED brown rice (1 cup before cooking), still warm or chilled
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons toasted sesame seed oil
1 (12 to 16-ounce package) extra-firm water-packed tofu, drained, then diced in 1/4-inch (or slightly larger) pieces
1 - 2 Tablespoons wasabi powder (stick with one for a milder flavor; two if you want your nose to burn)!
2 Tablespoons hot water
1/3 cup reduced-fat Vegenaise (or mayonnaise)
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce (OR Bragg’s liquid aminos)
1 Tablespoon liquid pickled ginger "juice" (liquid drained from pickled ginger)
2 cups matchstick-cut (or coarsely grated) carrots
1 hothouse (seedless) cucumber, diced (about 2 cups; peel if waxed)
1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup grated pickled ginger
3 to 4 nori (dried, toasted seaweed) sheets (half of a 6-ounce package), snipped lengthwise into quarters, then stacked and snipped crosswise at 1/4-inch intervals (reserve a small amount to garnish the top of the salad, if desired)
2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled then diced
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Reserved sheet of nori, snipped into small, irregularly shaped pieces
(Rice will need to be prepared ahead of time, though it may still be warm).
To prepare the marinade:
About 1 hour before serving the salad, in a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and sesame seed oil; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved.
Add the cubed tofu; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
Transfer tofu and marinade to a 2 or 3-quart glass baking dish.
Fluff rice, then gently fold into the tofu mixture.
Place in the freezer until well-chilled. (If desiring to assemble the salad later, the tofu and rice mixture may be chilled in the refrigerator).
To prepare the dressing:
Meanwhile, to make the dressing, in a small bowl, stir together the hot water and wasabi powder until smooth.
Whisk in the Vegenaise, soy sauce and ginger “juice”.
Refrigerate until ready to complete the salad.
(Prepare the vegetables and set aside).
To assemble the salad:
Shortly before serving, in a large bowl, gently stir together the chilled tofu and rice mixture, chilled dressing, and all the salad ingredients (EXCEPT the avocado, which is added last), until well mixed.
Gently fold in the cubed avocado.
To garnish the salad:
Sprinkle the salad with toasted sesame seeds (and the reserved nori, if desired).
Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate, though salad is most attractive if enjoyed before the avocado darkens.