Monday, May 3, 2010

Talking Up Tofu - Vegan Dubu Kimchi - My Legume Love Affair 22

Dubu Kimchi

As I officially return from Easter break, which lingered unexpected and unofficially through most of April, I am getting back up to speed with a speedy recipe to restore some sensible eating after weeks-long, post-holiday gorging from pastel baskets brimming with animal-shaped sugars. Some might jeer that you can't get any more balanced than with the blandness of tofu. To those naysayers I would counter that while a block of tofu presented in its birthday suit is not the most inspiring of ingredients, it does have that unique chameleon quality that cheerfully embraces its far-more-flavorful neighbors in a recipe. You can't expect much from it if you pair it with a few steamed green beans, but it will glow in the dark of your belly if you light it on fire with the unrepentant spicy condiments common to the Korean cook. If you are hot for heat, and an advocate of Meatless Monday, then I have a dish for you.


Dubu Kimchi – Adapted for vegans and vegetarians from the out-of-print The Food of Korea – Authentic Recipes from the Land of the Morning Calm
Serves 2-3.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 10 ounces)
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 large clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 large dried, hot red chile pepper, chopped or crushed, seeds intact
2 green onions, cut into 1/3-inch diagonal lengths (white and green parts)
3 cups napa cabbage kimchi*, drained and coarsely chopped
1 pound block extra-firm tofu
¼ cup black sesame seeds, toasted briefly in a dry skillet


In a large, preferably non-stick skillet, warm vegetable oil briefly over low heat until it thins (less than 1 minute). Add mushrooms, stirring to coat with oil. Raise heat to medium-low. Cook mushrooms until nearly all water has been extracted and evaporated from them (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally to prevent browning. The mushrooms will be substantially shrunken, but tender and limp.

Stir in sesame oil, garlic, green onions, and chile pepper. Sauté briefly while occasionally stirring until garlic is golden (about 2 minutes). Stir in kimchi. Maintain temperature to heat through. Remove from heat, keeping warm by covering skillet.

Cut tofu into small cubes or rectangles. Arrange pieces in a single layer in a microwavable container filled with enough water to cover them (you might have to do this in batches). Microwave on high power until tofu is heated through (about 2 minutes). Carefully remove steaming container to a stable surface, then gently remove the delicate pieces of tofu by lifting underneath them with a fork, placing them to drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Press sesame seeds into tops of tofu. (Note: the black sesame color will bleed somewhat into the tofu; this is normal, especially if you are generous with the seeds.)

Fill the center of a large platter or serving bowl with mushroom-kimchi mixture. Again, carefully lift tofu pieces with a fork and arrange them around the vegetable mixture. Serve immediately while still warm with short-grained Asian sticky rice, such as what is used to make sushi. –

* Kimchi, a typically spicy, brine-fermented staple of the Korean diet can be made with nearly any vegetable. Napa cabbage is the most commonly used featured ingredient. N.B. - Most kimchi is prepared with anchovy or other fish sauces or pastes. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, look carefully at ingredient panels before selecting, or make it yourself at home to your own specifications.

This recipe is for Sowjanya of RuchikaCooks, closing out hosting of My Legume Love Affair 22. Sowjanya will be accepting late recipes until she posts her round-up end of this week. Please stop by her lovely blog to ooh, aah, and bookmark what will be the usual fine collection of delicious fare from around the world. I will be posting the announcement for MLLA 23 later tonight, which will be hosted right here by me at The Well-Seasoned Cook.


  1. Such a lovely recipe, Susan! My very favourite! I love kimchi :)

  2. Unbelievably good, Susan.

    Naked tofu, after weeks of sugared bliss, is balm for the soul. A beautiful balance of hot crunch from the kimchi (how I love thee) and cool crunch from the sesame-coated tofu. Gorgeous photo, as always - where on earth did you find that glorious plate??

  3. That looks great! I love your pretty dish!



  4. you got me drooling with that pic!

  5. This vegan kimchi looks very tempting.Love the presentation.

  6. I like the domino tofu! I must admit that I have never tasted kimchi, though I have thought about making it at home. I am interested in seeing the fermentation happen. The plate looks very elegant.

  7. Very tasty sounding and photogenic as always. I finally got my act together and am participating in May. Post is up so now I just need to send you my email. :-)

  8. My kids are fan of Tofu and I'll definitely try this one. Lovely presentation.


  9. From now on whenever I see raw tofu I will think of it being in it's birthday suit. Favorite!! This gorgeous dish no doubt would delight me.

  10. Hello Susan
    I have not visited for a while so I feel like I need to catch up! Very interesting dish and I especially love the photo! Very stylish!

  11. I've never actually had kimchi, but would be willing to give this recipe a try! It looks really good!

  12. Anh - Thank you. I've only started to appreciate the myriad veggies you can use to make kimchi.

    Lucy - Ta. : } That plate was an incidental purchase when I was out searching for something quite different.

    Thanks, Rosa. I'm pretty fond of the dish, too. It's become a fast favorite.

    Preeti - That's the idea. ; } Thanks, dear girl.

    Hi, Kiran. - Thank so much.

    Ciao, Simona. - Thank you. Kimchi is hard to describe, pickled yet quite spicy. It would be fun to watch it ferment at home. I do believe it cures much faster than a sourdough starter, totally different animal.

    Hi, Kelly! Good to see you! Thanks so much. Glad you are joining us this month.

    Shilpa - Thanks! Wish I had been a tofu fan as a kid. I don't even think I knew it existed growing up in a meat-eating household.

    Thanks, Sarah. Oh, the scandal! : D

    Hi, Joumana! Yes, it's been a while. Great to see you. Thanks so much for the kind words.

    Welcome, Amari! Thanks for your visit. Tofu is something of an acquired taste for many, but I hope you will try it.