One thing I love so dearly about the blogging community is the sharing of ideas… and the creative endeavors that I may not have found myself pursuing had it not been for the collaboration with other bloggers. I was recently contacted by Marly, of Namely Marly, inviting me to participate in this great idea she had to veganize a list of America’s Top Ten New Sandwiches named by the Huffington Post. Isn’t that a great idea?!
If you all know anything about me, it’s that I love veganizing omni eats… so I was already intrigued when I first heard Marly’s idea. But once I saw the details–and that there was a bulgogi Philly Cheesesteak involved–I got more than excited. I was elated. And then I quickly became on a mission to bring back a food that I used to eat at least twice a week: bulgogi.
You see, even though I may reside in the middle of Ohio (land of corn), I have been surrounded by a fairly large Korean community since I was wee little. Heck, even my son has Korean roots. And from the exposure to such a great culture, I have eaten my fair share of bulgogi, kalbi, kimchi, kimbap, bibimbap, mandu, loads of banchan and many more traditional Korean dishes.
Bulgogi was always around, as my son’s Korean grandmother religiously kept a giant vat of bulgogi marinade tucked away in her fridge. And, even though I used to love the stuff back in the day, bulgogi hasn’t crossed my mind in years since shunning meat.
But man, am I ever happy to have it back in my life! This tofu rendition tastes amazing. I really do think it tastes better than the traditional stuff. Seriously, try it. I was even snacking on it uncooked… yum!
Keep your eyes peeled here tomorrow, where I will show you how to use this bulgogi in a recipe for a Korean inspired Philly cheesesteak. For now, this stuff is deeee-lish served over rice.
Bulgogi Style Tofu ~ Vegan & Gluten Free
- One 16 oz block extra firm, very dense tofu (see recommended brand below)
- 4 green onions, chopped (use white part too!)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 average sized onion, sliced
- 1 heaping tsp fresh grated ginger
- 2/3 cup wheat free tamari or soy sauce
- 4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 6 tbsp organic sugar
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup shredded pear, skin and all
First, make sure your tofu is very well drained. Wrap it up in towels and press between two plates with something heavy on top to get all that water out. I pressed mine for well over an hour. A Tofu Xpress would work great here. I also used the brand of tofu shown below (found at Whole Foods)… which is super dense and just perfect for this recipe. If you can’t find this particular brand, just try and get the densest brick of tofu you can find, as the density makes it easier to slice very thinly. Freezing the tofu after draining is also an option if you’re working with a flimsier tofu.
Once it has drained for a good long time, slice the block in half.
Then, make thin slices to the tofu to resemble little tofu steaks.
Arrange them in a deepish dish where they will be able to soak up lots of marinade.
Then cover the tofu slices with your chopped onions, green onions, ginger and garlic.
In medium sized bowl, combine the tamari, sesame oil, sugar, black pepper, mirin, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes and shredded pear. Stir really well to complete mix all ingredients together. Pour over tofu and veggies.
Cover and place into the refrigerator. Let marinate at least 8 hours. It’s really great to do this overnight… a little longer than 8 hours wont hurt anything. In fact, it may even help!
After 8 hours has passed, separate the tofu strips from the marinade. Reserve the veggies and sauce for cooking.
Heat up a cast iron skillet (or other handy dandy pan) over medium heat and drizzle with some sesame oil.
When your skillet is nice and hot, place the strips into the pan in an even layer so that there is adequate room for them to fry up. When you place the tofu in the pan, it should sizzle. (I cooked my tofu in two batches)
Pour enough of the marinade onto the tofu just to cover… make sure some of those veggies get in there too!
Let cook until most of the marinade has reduced, and the bottoms of the tofu slices are nice and caramely brown. Flip over tofu strips and cook until other side turns brown. Continue to cook until all tofu has transformed into delicious Korean bulgogi tofu.
Serve over rice.