Bulgogi tofu Korean bao (vegan)


Bulgogi tofu Korean bao (vegan)

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The term bulgogi literally refers to ‘fire meat’ – marinated meat cooked using traditional grilling techniques. This vegan version uses chunks of tofu in place of the meat but is packed full of flavour that nestles in deliciously soft, gluten-free bao ‘buns’.

Ingredients (serves 4-5) 

For the bulgogi tofu

  • 250g tofu block
  • 5 spring onions
  • ½ brown onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1” knob ginger (grated)
  • 1⁄3 cup grated nashi pear
  • 2 tbsp apple sauce
  • ¾ cup tamari
  • 4 tbsp sesame oil
  • 6 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 5 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar

For the bao buns

  • 8g yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 4 ½ cups good quality bakers flour or white spelt flour
  • ¼ cup white coconut sugar or xylitol
  • 2 tbsp rice bran oil
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • To serve
  • ½ cucumber
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • ½ tsp mirin


To begin, chop the tofu into half a centimetre-thick pieces and place into a dish. Slice the spring onions into one-centimetre pieces and place on top. Cut up the brown onion into slices and also place on top.

Place all other remaining bulgogi tofu ingredients into a bowl and then pour over the tofu/spring onion/onion. Place a lid on the dish and place in the fridge overnight or at least four hours.
To make the bao, begin by placing the yeast into the warm water in a bowl. Add in one cup of the flour and mix in. Cover with a tea towel and set aside for an hour.

Dissolve the sugar and rice bran oil into half a cup boiling water. Stir and then let cool.

Add in the remaining flour into the boa mix alongside the cooled sugar water. Knead the bread until smooth and place into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a damp tea town and let rise for one to two hours or until doubled.

Divide into 12 to 15 balls and knead each ball.

Flatten into an oval, place a chopstick in the middle and fold in half to create your ‘bun’. Remove chopstick and place bun onto a small sheet of baking paper and place into the steamer. Let sit in the steamer to rise further for 10 to 15 minutes. Brush each bun with sesame oil and then let steam for 10 minutes in a tightly sealed steamer.

To cook the bulgogi tofu simply place into a fry pan and cook for 15 minutes or until nice and caramalised. Remove from heat.

To serve, place some tofu into a fresh boa bun, add in some cucumber, a splash of mirin and sprinkle of sesame seeds. Enjoy immediately.  

Recipe and images by Kate Bradley

NEXT: Banh Mi (Vietnamese pork baguette)


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