Korean Mixed BBQ Grill with Mushrooms
Serves 4 hungry bbq fans, or 6 with extra sides or appetizers
Korean BBQ is an exciting affair no matter where you enjoy it in the world, from Japan to Flushing, Queens it always feels like something special is going down when you’re gathered around a table scooping up sweet and savory grilled morsels to be wrapped in cool lettuce leaves and garlicky sauces. For the most part this is off limits to if you don’t partake in eating animals, but the occasional BBQ joint may offer a mushrooms which are naturals when it comes to grilling.
A great vegan version of Korean bulgogi (or pulgogi) can be enjoyed at home with the addition of pressed tofu, thinly sliced homemade seitan, and any number of excellent very grillable mushrooms. Indoor grilling with a cast iron pan works just fine, but if you have the opportunity to grill outdoors by all means try this Korean style and you many find it hard to consider BBQing any other way. Serving this BBQ with the bounty of Korean sides is memorable, but a perfectly great meal can be made with just the basic accompaniments. This makes a big meal for 4 people, but the ingredients marinate well in the refrigerator and can be spread out over a few days for multiple fast and savory weeknight meals.
Tip: To grate the Asian pear use the finest holes on a box grater. You’ll basically have pulpy fruit mush, which is ideal for blending into the marinade.
1 lb extra firm tofu
10 ounces seitan (about 2 steamed loaves ) or 8 ounce tempeh
10 ounces shiitake mushrooms, large portabella mushrooms (2-3 caps) or oyster mushroom
8-10 garlic cloves
⅔ cup light soy sauce
⅓ cup dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup finely grated apple, pear or Asian pear
3 tablespoons rice wine or mirin wine
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, finely grated
4 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Several twists of freshly ground black pepper
Peanut oil or high heat canola oil for grilling
Garlic Soybean Dip [RECIPE TO COME]
10-15 large leaves of leafy green lettuce such as Bibb or Romain, washed and dried
Steamed white or short grain brown rice
1. Prepare the items for the mixed grill; slice tofu block in half, then slice each half into four slices. Press as directed for Baked Tofu. If using steamed seitan, use a very sharp chef’s knife and slice lengthwise as thin as possible, no thicker than ¼ inch; if using purchased seitan drain well and tear into bite sized pieces. If using tempeh, slice each cake in half lengthwise, slice in half and then slice each square into triangles; drop tempeh pieces in boiling salted water for 8 minutes and drain well. For the mushrooms, slice portabello mushrooms into ½ inch thick strips; separate oyster mushrooms into single mushrooms; keep shiitake mushrooms whole and remove any hard stems. Brush away any dirt from mushrooms with a damp dish towel. Keep garlic cloves whole, or if using an outdoor grill with widely spaced grates you may want to skewer the garlic cloves together on a bamboo or metal skewer to prevent them from falling into the fire.
2. In a large mixing bowl whisk all of the marinade ingredients together. To marinate the mixed grill items, you may either separate each item into it’s own dish and distribute the marinade between them, or put everything together in a big mixing bowl. Either way you choose, make sure to rub the marinade into the food to evenly coat each piece. If using tempeh I suggest marinating that in it’s own dish and handling with care when coating in marinade to prevent it from crumbling. Set aside for at least 1 hour, or even better tightly cover and refrigerate overnight. Occasionally flip or stir the tofu and mushrooms to re-distribute the marinade.
3. If serving with rice, steam the rice and keep warm. Wash, spin dry the lettuce leaves, seal in a zip top plastic bag and keep chilled until ready to serve. Prepare Garlic Soybean Dip. Now fire up the grill or heat a cast iron skillet (preferably on with grill marks on the bottom); have handy a high heat oil such as peanut and a heat-resistant brush for brushing the oil, and long-handled metal tongs for moving the food around. Grill each item over high heat, taking care to oil the pan whenever the food starts to stick. The tofu will take the longest, about 2-3 minutes per side for a golden brown crust; after than tempeh, then the thinly sliced seitan and mushrooms should be watched carefully as not to overcook and make tough and dry, about 1-2 minutes per side at the most is needed. Grill the garlic until cloves are tender and golden, about 3-4 minutes.
4. To serve, place hot grilled food on a platter and let guest assemble their own wraps using a lettuce leaf, a smear of garlic soybean dip, a few spoonfuls of rice if desired, and a piece of grilled tofu, tempeh, seitan and/or mushroom or chunk of grilled garlic. Nibble on kimchi, drink a beer, have a good time!