Thai-inspired pork Buddha bowls

A healthy, colourful and delicious meal!

I like to describe Buddha bowls as perfectly balanced meals – they typically include a healthy whole grain and lean protein (chicken, pork, tofu or eggs) plus loads of colourful, nutritious vegetables. The sauce is what really makes them shine; in this case, if you don’t prefer peanut sauce, a sweet and sour sauce (or sweet chili sauce) would be a great alternative. If you’re not familiar with the process of coating meat with cornstarch prior to frying, this is called velveting and it’s commonly used in many Asian dishes and makes for supremely tender meat. While maple syrup is not commonly used in Asian cuisine, it is my sweetener of choice; feel free to swap in brown sugar if you prefer.


Peanut sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) soy sauce (use tamari for gluten-free version)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) sambal oelek (chile paste) – or to taste
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons (30–45 mL) water

Buddha bowl:

  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) hot cooked brown rice (or quinoa)
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chicken stock
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons (10–15 mL) sambal oelek (chile paste) – to taste
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 pound (454 g) pork tenderloin, cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) pieces
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (10 g) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon (6 g) freshly grated ginger
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups (80 g) chopped spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups (135 g) shredded purple cabbage
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and julienned
  • 1/2 cup (8 g) fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) chopped roasted peanuts
  • Lime wedges, to garnish (optional)


  • Make the spicy peanut sauce by whisking together in a small bowl the peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, maple syrup, sambal oelek and up to 3 tablespoons of water (amount depends on what kind of peanut butter you use) to make a mixture that is thick but pourable. Set aside.
  • Cook rice according to package instructions; set aside and keep warm.
  • While rice cooks, shake together in a small jar with a tight lid the chicken stock, sambal oelek, maple syrup and lime juice; set aside.
  • Place the pieces of pork in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with fish sauce and toss, then sprinkle with cornstarch and toss again to coat evenly.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet placed over medium heat. Add pork and sauté until golden, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, shallot and ginger, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock mixture and stir constantly until a bit thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add a few pinches of salt and pepper.
  • Divide rice among four bowls. Top with pork and any accumulated liquid in the skillet, followed by spinach, cabbage, mango and carrots. Drizzle peanut sauce over everything then top with cilantro and peanuts. Serve hot, with lime wedges, if desired.

Serves 4.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

4 thoughts

  1. I just printed this! I have a girlfriend who spends the night about every 3 out of 4 weeks, and it’s so much fun for me because she eats food that my husband won’t eat, like fish! I know she’d love this, although I’d have to serve the sambal oelek on the side so I can add extra! That’s the only thing that is different – she’s less of a spicy lover. Thanks!

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