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Korean Barbecue Tofu Bowls with Stir-Fried Veggies and Quinoa

Korean Barbecue Tofu Bowls with Stir-Fried Veggies & Quinoa

Photos by Emily Caruso

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.

Korean Barbecue Tofu Bowls with Stir-Fried Veggies & Quinoa
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.

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.


Korean BBQ Tofu Bowls with Stir-Fried Veggies and Quinoa

Korean Barbecue Tofu Bowls with Stir-Fried Veggies & Quinoa

A satisfying vegetarian meal bowl made with tofu, stir-fried vegetables, quinoa and a homemade Korean barbecue sauce. Sauce recipe adapted from Cooking Channel’s Korean BBQ Sauce.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons yellow miso
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, grated
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

For the bowls:

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (or any neutral flavored, high-heat cooking oil), divided
  • 1 crown broccoli, broken into florets
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced into half moons
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1 red pepper, cored and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 (15-ounce) 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:

  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 1/2 cup of the Korean BBQ 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.

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  • Reply
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com
    January 29, 2015 at 10:00 am

    This is a delicious bowl! Love the flavors going on for the tofu 🙂

  • Reply
    January 29, 2015 at 10:31 am

    This looks amazing!! Also, so color and beautiful!! I might have to give it a try!!

  • Reply
    January 29, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    I adore Korean food and tofu! Definitely going to make this soon!

  • Reply
    Cara's Healthy Cravings
    January 29, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    I’m grabbing the kimchi! I am pretty sure this recipe was made for me, it’s my ideal meal. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Brian @ Kitchen Domination
    January 29, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    When you cook your quinoa, do you just use water or do you use broth or another more flavorful liquid?

    • Reply
      February 12, 2015 at 1:37 pm


  • Reply
    Kristen @ The Endless Meal
    January 29, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    This looks amazing! Love all the colours. 🙂

  • Reply
    Nina at focusedonfit.com
    January 29, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    This bowl looks amazing – so colorful and appetizing! Plus with all those veggies and tofu, this is packed with protein, carbs and minimal fat. Super healthy, a great alternative to fattening takeout! #healthytakeout

  • Reply
    Happy Hazel
    January 29, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Wow. Looks so delicious! Getting full just by looking at it. 🙂 Thank you for sharing! <3

  • Reply
    January 29, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    I know not everyone has access to this, but use Korean gochujang sauce instead of sriracha. It will give it more of a distinct “korean” flavor. It should be available in most asian sections of larger grocery stores.

  • Reply
    Emma {Emma's Little Kitchen}
    January 30, 2015 at 7:56 am


  • Reply
    [email protected]
    January 31, 2015 at 4:16 am

    All those beautiful colors and that SAUCE! I am so in!

  • Reply
    Lynn | The Road to Honey
    January 31, 2015 at 7:27 am

    What a beautifully colorful dish. I’m in the beginning stages of playing around with recipes so fully appreciate the two references that you mention.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    WOW this was REALLY good!!
    Have you ever had Curryketchup?Please make a tofu recipe with that.It is the best!

  • Reply
    January 31, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    I made this for dinner tonight, and it was wonderful! We substituted bok choy for pineapple and added thinly sliced red onion. That sauce is really delicious. Thanks!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    I have The Flavor Bible and use it all the time!! Definitely one of the better cookbook purchases I’ve made in the past year. Next up…need to get The Vegetarian Flavor Bible into my collection! I mean, if it inspired this korean bbq bowl, then it’s a must have.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    I loved this meal. My tofu hating husband cleaned his bowl too. This was fantastic! Thanks for the great recipe. I love the mix of sweet/sour/spicy. mmmmmm.

  • Reply
    February 14, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    I made this last night and it was so good! Thanks for posting. It never occurred to me to sub quinoa for rice, but it’s a delicious alternative. Also, this sauce is really good. Definitely don’t skip it.

  • Reply
    Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom
    February 16, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Hi Kiersten! just stumbled on this! first off, what a gorgeous BBQ tofu bowl! 🙂 I love it! what made the cooking channel’s sauce “Korean” is the gochujang, when you just use ketchup, I’d call this an Asian BBQ tofu bowl . . the gochujang is key for it to be Korean. can’t wait to try thisI I love all the veggies and beautiful shredded red cabbage on top! My kinda bowl! 🙂

    • Reply
      Kiersten Frase
      February 16, 2015 at 8:49 am

      I realize that, but most grocery stores don’t carry gochujang, so I used the sriracha/miso substitution to make shopping for the recipe a little bit easier.

  • Reply
    March 1, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Made this tonight and it came out fantastic.
    Great recipe and looked brilliant and colorful on the table!
    Sauce was great and the quinoa made a great addition.

  • Reply
    March 16, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    This looks so beautiful! Will definitely be trying this one this week

  • Reply
    March 23, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    I think ketchup is vile: can you suggest a substitute? Is the role its playing here a sweetener, or something else?

  • Reply
    Sue Donnenwirth
    April 2, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Your Korean BBQ Tofu Bowl looks great! I am going to try. I am wondering if you ever post with nutrition facts with your recipes? This one maybe.
    Thanks for your time.

  • Reply
    April 11, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    I’m a big fan of bowls-I appreciate the substitution for gochujang, which hasn’t made it to my smaller town as yet. On the menu for this week-thanks!

  • Reply
    Christine GW
    May 13, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    That photo is so gorgeous. The bowl is like a work of art!

  • Reply
    Emma {Emma's Little Kitchen}
    June 3, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    I am SWOONING over this one, it looks absolutely delectable Kiersten! I have never tried Korean BBQ sauce, but I will be testing the waters soon!

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