Vegan Tempeh Bulgogi Recipe
Following up on the most Koreany of all Korean food, kimchi, we move along to what is likely the most enjoyed Korean dish in the US, the famed Korean BBQ, bulgogi. Oh yeah!
We’ve got a couple of ways we make vegan bulgogi, but today we’re going with tempeh (you can also use seitan which we use for our pepper paste bulgolgi recipe). It’s convenient, pretty inexpensive, and yummy. This recipe is super easy and quick.
Vegan Tempeh Bulgogi Recipe (serves 3-4)
1 8oz package of tempeh, sliced
1 head red leaf lettuce (or leafy green of your choice)
1/2 bulb garlic
1 small or 1/2 large white or yellow onion, sliced
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp agave or sugar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 – 1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 Tbsp white wine
2 clove garlic, minced or crushed
2 green onions or scallions, chopped
1-2 green Korean peppers, diced (optional)
1/2 Asian pear, diced (optional, reduce sugar if used)
Sauce: ssamjang or gochujang (Korean pepper paste)
1. Slice the narrow end of the tempeh into 1/4″ slices. You want it thick enough to hold together as you mix it, but narrow enough to soak up the marinade well (optionally, you can steam or lightly boil the tempeh for 15 minutes before slicing).
2. Mix the marinade together and marinate the tempeh and onions in it, at least half an hour (but I wouldn’t go more than a few hours). Be sure to stir the tempeh now and then to ensure it marinates well. The amount we listed in our recipe is what we use and is sufficient for us. But it doesn’t waste any marinade, it will soak it all up. If you’re not going to stir it now and then or would rather have a stronger flavor, you can double the amount of marinade, but we don’t feel like it’s necessary and you’ll end up throwing some out that way.
3. You’re now ready to grill your tempeh, garlic, onions and peppers. You can also just saute it, but really grilling is much better. If you’ve got some extra marinade left, you can spoon a little over everything while it grills.
4. Grill everything and serve by taking a lettuce leaf, adding a bit of your sauce of choice (ssamjang is traditional but gochujang is just fine), rice, some kimchi if you feel like it, and the tempeh, garlic, and onions. Wrap it up like a taco and devour. Nummy!
If you want to eat it like an authentic Korean, you put the whole thing in your mouth at one go. I’ve noticed that kids also enjoy this challenge, but keep in mind that the leaf lettuce in Korea is much more bite-size friendly, so you’d be better off using smaller leaves or tearing them into smaller pieces to keep things truly bite-sized.
Instead of leaf lettuce, we used the last of the season’s kale from our garden. We steamed it for 15 minutes until it was nice and tender. Kale is so good for you, so be creative in how you work it into your diet!