Korean-inspired grilled tofu

My love of Korean food came when I was living in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in 1997. To further my language skills, I took English conversation classes offered by local volunteers. That’s where I got to meet a lot of people from all over the world.

Every week, we had an international potluck. We would all bring dishes from our home country. I got to taste so many delicious dishes. One I distinctly remember was called Bulgogi. Bulgogi means “fire meat.” It’s made of thin, marinated slices of beef or pork grilled on a barbecue or a stove-top griddle. It can also be stir-fried in a pan.

I was thinking of incorporating that Bulgogi flavor with tofu. I try to include tofu in my family’s diet whenever I can. Tofu is a good source of protein and has many essential vitamins.

How to make this dish

Tofu

  • 1 12.3 oz pkg extra firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 tbs canola oil for frying tofu
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs green onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • Pinch of each salt and ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients except tofu and canola oil in a shallow baking dish. Set aside.

Drain package of tofu and pat dry with paper towel. Cut tofu into 10 pieces.

I usually cut along the longer side of the tofu block.

Rub tofu with marinade. Let tofu sit for 30-60 minutes. Flip tofu pieces 1-2 times in marinade.

You can also cover the bowl and marinate the tofu overnight in a refrigerator.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle around 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil over the grill pan. Add tofu slices on top of pan. Arrange them so tofu slices are laid diagonally for grill marks. Cook tofu until grill marks appear on surface. It should take around 2-3 minutes. Flip tofu over and repeat steps on other side.

Soy dipping sauce

  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with grilled tofu.

Green onion oil

  • 1/4 cup green onion 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Pinch of pepper and sugar

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir.

Sauteed kale

  • 3 cups washed, thinly sliced dinosaur kale (tough stem removed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbs canola oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red chili flakes

Heat oil in a large deep frying pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add garlic. Stir for a few seconds. Add kale. Stir. Add salt and chili flakes. Cook till kale is wilted.

Serve the grilled tofu with cooked white rice and sauteed kale. Drizzle soy dipping sauce and green onion oil over all ingredients.

You can use as little or as much green oil and dipping sauce as you like.

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