When I lived in Korea a few years ago I was enrolled in an enculturation-style cooking class. An amazing chef volunteered her time and cooking school facility every Friday afternoon to help women new to the country figure out how to cook traditional foods. Another aspect of how wonderful this chef is – despite the fact that vegetarianism is kind of considered odd by many Koreans, she was always willing to try and figure something out with me. The something else often involved a tiny pan off to the side that had shiitake mushrooms instead of whatever meat everyone else was working on. One of the Friday afternoons she taught how to make bulgogi beef. She really didn’t know what to do with me, and so I said let me watch and then I’ll go home and try it with tofu. She was not super convinced, but on the following Sunday I tried it out with great success.
The version I have below is honestly the laziest way to make this, and I’ll bet someone reading this will be horrified that I have even used the word bulgogi in the same post as the recipe. If that’s you, let’s call it something else like fusion bulgogi-seasoned tofu and mushrooms that you can eat with rice.
One little tangent before I get to the ingredients and instructions. When I make “meaty” dishes, such as tofu with pulled pork seasoning, I always use tofu that is frozen. This is because freezing it makes it chewier, and it also makes it kind of spongy in a way that lets any sauce you are using really get in. For more detail on the exciting world of tofu, check out this article from Serious Eats. It is a great primer on different types of tofu and tofu-techniques.
Ingredients and Instructions
- First of all, everything goes into the slow cooker.
- 1 500 gram container of firm tofu, frozen, then thawed. I chopped it into strips a little bigger than say a pen? 1 bell pepper. I always try to use a red one to give some colour to the dish. 1 medium onion, sliced.
- About a cup of matchstick cut carrot. I might have bought this in a bag. If you also buy this in a bag, you’re looking at about ½ the bag.
- 100 grams of sliced shiitake mushrooms, or as many mushrooms of whatever kind you enjoy most. If you use shiitakes, just toss the stems and don’t feel guilty about it.
- 3-4 cloves of garlic. There may already be garlic in the sauce, but I like garlic and it makes me feel like I’m doing something.
- Here is where I cheat terribly. I know how to make the sauce, but I don’t. Last time I made it from scratch I grated my knuckles as well as the onion. No more sauce making for me. I use the T&T brand Korean Bulgogi Sauce from Loblaws family stores. All 756ml of it. This sauce does not list animal ingredients, but it also has a may contain warning. If you are vegan you’ll want to look over the ingredients carefully. (If you want to make a sauce from scratch, contact me and I can direct you to what look like reasonable recipes to me.)
- Dump all the sauce over the veggies and tofu in the slow cooker.
- Cook on high for about 4 hours.