Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for tofu and mushroom bulgogi

Bulgogi is one of Korea’s most popular dishes, and it’s traditionally made with beef (bul means fire and gogi means meat). Although this is what some (most?) would consider to be a biased column, I think the unique selling point of this particular dish is not the meat, but the all-singing, all-dancing marinade, which is as brilliant as it is balanced. It’s made using gochujang – a hot and sweet, postbox-red pepper paste – grated pear, ginger and soy sauce, which are all flavours the tofu and mushrooms in this dish will happily entertain.

Tofu and mushroom bulgogi
Gochujang is now sold on the world food aisle of most major supermarkets and online.

Prep 10 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4

280g extra-firm tofu
4 tbsp light soy sauce
1½ tbsp brown rice syrup
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 pear, coarsely grated
10 spring onions, trimmed and sliced, whites and greens separated
4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp gochujang paste
4 tbsp rapeseed oil
400g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
Cooked jasmine rice, to serve

Lightly press the tofu block between your hands over the sink, to get rid of as much water as possible, then wrap in paper towels and set aside.

Put the soy sauce, brown rice syrup, garlic, ginger, pear, spring onion whites, sesame oil, gochujang and two tablespoons of water in a bowl and whisk to mix. Unwrap the tofu from the kitchen paper and cut widthways into ¾cm-thick slices.

Heat up two tablespoons of the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, and have ready a large plate by the side of the cooker. Fry the mushrooms in batches, so that each slice can touch the base of the pan (otherwise they’ll sweat, rather than fry), until they turn golden – each batch should take about five minutes – then transfer to the plate and repeat with the remaining mushrooms.

Coat the bottom of the pan with the remaining rapeseed oil, then fry the tofu for about four minutes, turning once, until golden on both sides. Tip the mushrooms back into the pan, stir in the soy and gochujang, and cook for five minutes, until the sauce has reduced and coated everything.

Sprinkle over the chopped spring onion greens and serve with rice.