Garlicky veggies, kimchi, fresh spinach and pan-fried tofu drenched in spicy Korean red pepper sauce are stuffed into crusty rolls with vegan mayo to make these umami-packed bibimbap sandwiches.
The problem with running a food blog where you share lots of ethnic recipes, and in particular a vegan food blog where you share lots of ethnic recipes, is that you get a lot of people who react one of two ways: (1) “This is too exotic. Can I substitute a bunch of stuff?” or (2) “This is so inauthentic. Why’d you substitute that stuff?” I try to aim for a nice place in the middle, and judging by the nice even split in reactions, I’m succeeding.
I posted a bibimbap recipe a while back, which is pretty exotic to most Americans, and I did get some questions, and even a comment about tofu being unsuitable, as meat is apparently more authentic. Whatever the case, authentic or not, the Korean restaurants I’ve eaten bibimbap in have all had tofu as an option, for which I’m very grateful because otherwise I might never have experienced the deliciousness that is bibimbap.
This makes no attempts at feigning authenticity. It’s totally invented. I made it up and I’d do it again. It was goooooooood.
My biggest issue when I posted that first bibimbap recipe was the whole stone bowl thing. I love those hot sizzly bowls, and I can’t imagine eating my bibimbap rice without it having sizzled away against the surface of a stone bowl, but I know most people reading weren’t about to go out and invest in special tableware for that one dish. So I ditched the bowl and the rice completely. I didn’t miss them. Stuffing things into a sandwich is probably my favorite way to make seemingly exotic food more accessible. This sandwich is a whole new species of bibimbap, no special equipment needed.
At this point you may be asking yourself “What on earth is this girl talking about?” If you don’t know, fret not. Order what you need on Amazon and make this sandwich. Call it Spicy Tofu Sandwich, or whatever you like. Eat it. You’ll love it.
Korean Tofu Bibimbap Sandwiches
For the Bibimbap Sauce
For the Bibimbap Sandwiches
- 1 lb. extra firm tofu drained and pressed at least 20 minutes
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil any neutral flavored cooking oil, divided
- 8 large shiitake caps about 4 oz.
- 2 carrots julienned
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- about 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
- about 1/2 cup vegan kimchi
- 1 scallion chopped
- toasted sesame seeds
- 4 sandwich rolls sliced open
- vegan mayonnaise
- Whisk bibimbap sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Slice tofu into 8-12 slabs, each between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Any shape will do, as long as they're sized to fit your rolls. Set aside.
- Coat a large, flat bottomed skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil and place over medium heat. Arrange shiitake caps in skillet and cover. Allow to cook for about 4 minutes, until lightly browned and tender. Remove from skillet and transfer to plate.
- Add carrots and garlic to skillet. Stir-fry until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove from skillet and transfer to a plate.
- Recoat skillet with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Arrange tofu slabs in skillet and cook until browned on bottoms, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook another 5 minutes on opposite sides. Flip again, reduce heat to low and spoon about half of your bibimbap sauce over tofu. Cook about 1 minute, flip and cook another minute, until sauce coats tofu and is lightly caramelized in spots.
- Slather sandwich rolls with mayo and stuff with tofu, shiitakes, carrots, spinach and kimchi. Drizzle with additional sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions.