“Bulgogi” Tempeh with Sautéed Onions

I indulged a little too much over the weekend. I don’t know about you. But I can’t say no to soft shell crab, especially the battered and fried ones dipped in aïoli. I can’t pass up fresh sea urchin either – even if those yummy morsels come nestled in cheese smothered pasta. I’m terribly lactose intolerant and gluten-sensitive. Yes. This would be a problem. And who can pass up a prosecco bar? I can’t. So I imbibed a bit.

So like a reasonable person, I planned to forgo dessert. But my plan was thwarted by a complimentary tray of desserts that came to our table. And I can’t let any dessert go untouched. But not only did I “touch” them, I polished them off. To make matters worse, we got a bottle of champagne, a mini chocolate cake, AND a mini carrot cake on our way home. At the end of the night, nothing was left.

Clearly, I have issues with restraint. I know this. I’m nothing if not self-aware.

If any of you have any food sensitivities, you know what happens after you eat foods on “that” list. OUCH! Despite the fact that I took some digestive enzymes prior to my exercise in gluttony, it was a horrible, painful night. And Monday was definitely not a funday. I was basically useless for the day.

So I’ve been apologizing to my body this week by eating healthy and drinking tons of water. And “Bulgogi” Tempeh with Sautéed Onions was one of the dishes I prepared this week. It is vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, not too high in sodium, really tasty, and easy to make. And with its flavors of Korean barbecue, this dish is perfect for the tempeh newbie.

Make sure the tempeh is free of any gluten-containing ingredients if you need to stick to a strict gluten-free diet. Additionally, you can use low-sodium tamari if you are watching your sodium intake. You may need to add a pinch more salt if you choose to go that route.

Truthfully, my husband was against my “detox” week, because he really wanted to have a big juicy rib eye steak. But this tempeh dish changed his mind. He declare it his favorite tempeh dish. And he made me promise I would make it again before the week was over.

“Bulgogi” Tempeh with Sautéed Onions Recipe
Serves 2 people
8 oz. package tempeh, sliced into thin pieces
2 TB tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
2 tsp toasted sesame seed oil
1 TB agave nectar (or honey)
1 TB mirin
1/2 onion, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper

  1. Stir together tamari, toasted sesame oil, agave nectar, mirin, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Reserve about 1 TB of the marinade. Set aside for later use. Place the tempeh on a plate. Pour rest of the marinade over the tempeh. Make sure the marinade has coated every piece by rotating/turning each piece. Refrigerate and allow the tempeh slices to marinate for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  2. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of oil into the pan. Add the tempeh slices to the pan. Do NOT discard the marinade left (if any) on the plate. LOWER the heat. Allow them to lightly brown. It should take about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and place it back on to the plate. Set aside.
  3. In the same pan (wipe it out with a paper towel if necessary), add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the minced garlic and heat over medium heat. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, add onion slices and sauté until they just start to soften. Add a pinch of salt. Don’t wait until they become translucent. You still want a little bit of bite to them. Pour about 2 tsp of reserved marinade from step 1 to the onion slices. Stir until the sauce is absorbed.
  4. Add the tempeh along with the marinade left over on the plate back into the pan. Pour rest of the reserved sauce to the pan and stir gently. Allow the mixture to heat through. Serve with steamed veggies and/or kimchi over steamed rice.


26. July 2012 by gomo
Categories: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Korean Food, Main Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , | 12 comments

Comments (12)

  1. I just found your blog tonight on Pinterest. I read every one of your blog posts and pinned a ton of recipes! I’m so excited to find such a great reference for Korean cooking! My husband is Korean, but I am not. While his Mom has taught me a lot about Korean cuisine, it is wonderful to find recipes with actual measurements! 🙂

    • Thank you Heather! I’m glad to be of any help. I know what you mean about the measurements. My grandmother and mom never really measure anything out. They always say, “appropriate” amount, “just a handful,” or about the size of a “big spoon.” 🙂 But Korean cuisine is very much an imprecise art. So I understand why. Try the recipe as it is and you can adjust it to your taste. Korean cuisine is very adaptable that way. You’ll be an expert in no time!

  2. I just made this and it was really delicious. I thought I would have to add more soy sauce but it ended up being really flavorful as is. Thanks for the recipe! I love your Korean vegan recipes!

    • Glad to hear that you enjoyed it! Last week was kind of my week of cleanse. So I didn’t want a dish that was too salty. Of course, you can add more tamari or salt if you’d like. But I don’t think you need it. It’s plenty flavorful without it. Thanks for letting me know how it turned out!

  3. what a brilliant way to cook tempeh!! I seriously thought it was a cut of beef that I wasn’t familiar with until i read further. I am a huge fan of bulgogi and I love soy products so this dish is a must try for me. Thanks for sharing it!

  4. Are you on Facebook? Love your recipes.

    • Thanks Jill! I’m probably the only person on earth not on facebook. I’m on google+ and pinterest tho. I will set up a facebook page some point soon. 🙂

  5. This was awesome! My husband and I met in Korea and we were re-stationed shortly after. He LOVED the food and has missed it so much. He recently had to undergo chemo and is trying to get back into shape. This satisfied his craving for “times past,” but definitely worked on the healthy side of things by avoiding the fat and cholesterol of the meat we would regularly use. Thank you so much!

    • Thank you so much for your comment Rachel! We went through chemo with a very close family member. So I know it can get very tough. Maybe that’s why I feel a kinship to the caregivers. I’m surmising from your comment that he is getting better? I really hope so.

      I’m so glad you guys liked this recipe! Let me know if there is anything else you would like to see here. Almost everything is adaptable to become vegan. 🙂 Sending you guys good wishes!

  6. Hi,

    I can’t wait to try this recipe but I can’t use mirin as it is alcohol. What is a good substitute for it?

    • Hi Nur! Sorry about the late response. If you can’t use mirin, broth or stock would be fine. If you’re really in a pinch, you can even use water. I hope this helps!:)

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