This recipe is full of fresh veggies, quinoa, and tofu, making these Korean Barbecue Tofu Bowls a complete vegan meal in a convenient bowl.
Making Your Own Recipes
When I first got into cooking years ago, I followed recipes to a T and never deviated from them. Then, I started making changes as I began to get a sense of what worked and what didn't. Once I became comfortable with that, I took the leap into developing my own recipes. One of the tools that helped me to do that is The Flavor Bible. I recommend it to everyone who loves to cook and wants to experiment more in the kitchen.
People like to think there are no rules when it comes to cooking, but there are rules. There are flavors that go together and flavors that don't—when you don't respect that, you end up with recipes for red velvet jalapeño cupcakes filled with truffle-scented chocolate ganache topped with frizzled leeks and candied kumquat rind. Using 20 different mismatched flavors in a recipe doesn't make you gourmet, it makes you a bad cook.
When I first started developing recipes, that was the kind of recipe I felt like I had to make. It was The Flavor Bible that helped me rein myself in—it made me realize that by working within a set of guidelines, I could be even more creative and develop stronger recipes. It's much harder to develop a solid 8-ingredient dish than something with 40 ingredients and 3 hours prep time. No book gets more use in my kitchen than this one, so when I found out Karen Page came out with The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, I was thrilled.
The Vegetarian Flavor Bible
If you're vegetarian and you love to experiment in the kitchen and you could only purchase one cookbook for yourself this year, it should be this one. It's more of a reference than a cookbook and you will find yourself referring to it constantly. The book starts with a timeline of vegetarian history and a write-up about vegetarian cooking (which includes a very useful "If you are craving this, try this instead" chart), but the "meat" of the book is the flavor matchmaking list section. The former librarian in me gets very excited about these lists! Don't know what to do with the daikon radish you picked up at the Japanese market? The Vegetarian Flavor Bible suggests baking, braising and roasting, among other methods, and pairing it with mirin, lime, maple syrup and other root vegetables like carrots and potatoes.
About the Recipe
If you look up tofu, you see that it pairs well with garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce, Korean cuisine, red bell peppers and zucchini, which brings us to this Korean Barbecue Tofu Bowl. It might not be frizzled leeks on a cupcake, but the flavors work together in a way that's bound to make your belly happy. I adapted the sauce from a recipe on the Cooking Channel website and a tip I saw in Cooking Light that suggested substituting miso and sriracha in recipes that called for gochujang, which I didn't have on hand. I paired the barbecue tofu with a simple stir fry, quinoa and fresh cabbage—feel free to substitute your favorite vegetables in the stir fry and any grain you like for the quinoa.
Photos by Emily Caruso
For the sauce:
- ½ cup ketchup
- ½ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
- 1 ½ tbsp white sugar (organic for vegan-friendly)
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tsp yellow miso
- 1 tsp sriracha
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 1-inch piece ginger, grated
- 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
For the bowls:
- 2 tbsp sesame oil or any neutral flavored, high-heat cooking oil, divided
- 1 crown broccoli broken into florets
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 medium zucchini sliced into half moons
- 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
- 1 red pepper cored and sliced
- 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
- 1 15 oz package extra-firm tofu, pressed for 30 minutes and cut into 1-inch cubes
- cooked quinoa shredded red cabbage, sliced green onions, and sesame seeds, for serving
To make the sauce:
- Whisk together all of the ingredients except the sesame oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- When the mixture comes to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until slightly thickened—it should be thinner than regular barbecue sauce, but thicker than teriyaki sauce.
- Stir in the oil and set aside.
To make the bowls:
- Heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
- Add the broccoli and stir fry for 1 minute.
- Carefully add the water to the skillet and cover; let the broccoli steam for about 2 minutes, until bright green and tender.
- Add the zucchini, pineapple, red pepper and soy sauce to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, 3–5 minutes more, or until all the vegetables are tender-crisp.
- Divide the vegetables into 4 bowls and wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel.
- Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the remaining sesame oil and swirl to coat, then add the tofu. Cook the tofu until lightly browned and crisp on all sides, turning occasionally, 8–10 minutes.
- Pour ½ cup of the sauce over the tofu and toss to coat; cook 2 minutes more, until sauce has thickened and the tofu is coated.
- Divide the tofu into the bowls, then add the quinoa and red cabbage. Drizzle with the remaining sauce and garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds.
Disclosure: I received a copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible to review. The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.
OMG, it was so super jummy. Used brown mushroms instead of red cabbage, because i didn't get one. Next time I will take some more tofu but the recipe was perfekt. Love that special BBQ sauce, I love asian food in general but I have never eaten a sauce that tastes like that one. Even my meat-eatin boyfriend loved the spices! 😀
Michelle Krysinski says
what does it mean to press tofu and how do u do it and why
Thank you so much for an awesome tofu recipe! We've been in a tofu rut lately and I've been rotating the same 3 recipes. I made this on Wednesday and it was so good we're having it again this week! I think we'll try it with rice this time but otherwise 2 big thumbs up!
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It's one of my favorites too. 🙂
This was really yummy! I used a broccoli slaw for the veggies because I was too lazy to chop;). Thank you for the recipe!!
Do you have the nutritional information for any of your bowls? I may have missed it. They all sound yummy.
Theresa "Sam" Houghton says
I have ghost pepper ketchup gifted to me by my cousin for Christmas. Methinks it would be DELICIOUS in this dish. Just reading the recipe is certainly enough to make me say, "OH MY VEGGIES!"
Thanks for sharing! 😀 Love your blog.
Lisette templin says
I am putting together a "Buddha Bowl Project" for my nutrition part of my corporate wellness package.
I would like to use your bowl with the posts and story and pictures giving you all credit. How would you feel about that?
Shannon M says
This Veggie Bowl was delicious! I ate it warm for dinner then my husband took it for lunch the next day and ate it cold. Amazing both ways, thank you for such a great recipe!
Thank you for the recipe!!I may have missed it. They all sound yummy.
I've never left a review for a recipe before until now. I made this tonight and it was INCREDIBLE. I've had three bowls of it over the last three hours. Seriously 10/10 amazing. Like, I genuinely hope that you read these reviews because you deserve endless amounts of praise over this. Thank you for bringing such overwhelming joy into my life.
Katie Trant says
Wow, Jess! Thanks so much for your kind words - and we're so glad you love this dish as much as we do!
Hi. Nice recipe! But I'm afraid the print link doesn't work. At least with me. Can you help me out?
Katie Trant says
Hey SeVa, this is a problem we're working on solving! Hopefully our recipes will all be migrated over to a new recipe card with a working print button shortly!
Could I substitute anything for miso in the sauce recipe or leave it out?
So delicious! We've made this twice and have since shared with various veggie friends. We'll definitely eat it again!
This looks great! Thanks for sharing!
Delicious! I made a few substitutions, such as adding less vinegar and more soy sauce, using Gochujang instead of the miso blend, and dubbing some vegetables. I also omitted the quinoa and made them into lettuce wraps. Thanks for sharing!