These mini bulgogi tofu hamburger steaks have been a favourite to add to bibimbap because it’s packed with bulgogi flavour and protein!
Every other month I find myself in a bibimbap phase. I’ll prep a bunch of Korean banchan (side dishes) like spinach, carrot, and spicy radish and I love to eat them over a bowl of short grain rice. It’s pretty much the only kind of meal prep I never get sick of.
Normally I just make bulgogi with ground vegan beef crumbles. But with food prices going up, we’re trying to stretch out our grocery budget a bit more. I find cutting vegan ground beef with tofu adds extra protein. Tofu stretches out the vegan ground and adds a bit of tenderness to that really meaty texture.
I learned to cut vegan ground with tofu from seeing Japanese cooks make tofu hamburger steaks. Instead of using a softer or silken tofu, I use extra firm. I also omit breadcrumbs, which I see in some recipes. Breadcrumbs add a tenderness and moisture to regular tofu hamburger steaks, but I find the result too soft for my liking.
I lightly season the patties with garlic, green onion, and black pepper. You could add some vegan dashi powder (or mushroom broth powder) as well! But with the bulgogi sauce and gochujang sauce in the bibimbap, I try not to overseason.
Why are they dimpled?
I form all the patties and place in the pan and then gently dimple in the centre of each patty. Then I add a drizzle of oil around the edge of the pan. The dimple helps the mini tofu hamburger steaks cook more evenly in the middle. I also find the dimple is a nice pocket for the bulgogi sauce to settle into.
Ways to Cook and Eat Bulgogi Tofu Hamburger Steak
I now use this mixture as the base of a lot of things I make with vegan ground: dumplings, bao, meatballs, etc. It’s versatile, stretches expensive vegan mock meats, and has a great texture! Eddie and I will have 2-3 patties per bowl. 1 patty is about 8-10 g of protein each, depending on size.
Lately, I’ve been making these mini bulgogi tofu hamburger steaks to put on top of bibimbap! It’s also delicious to eat in ssam (Korean Lettuce Wraps).
For the patties
- 400 g extra firm tofu
- 340 g / 12 oz vegan ground beef (I used Impossible but you can use Beyond for GF)
- 2 green onions, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
For the sauce
- 3 tbsp soy sauce (use tamari for GF)
- 3 tbsp oliosaccharide (you can sub brown sugar)
- 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- Optional: 1/2 tsp MSG
- Drain your tofu and if you have time, press the tofu of any excess water. Otherwise, break up the tofu as finely as you can and mash with your hands. Then mix with the vegan ground, green onions, garlic, ground pepper until uniform. Form 12 small patties, and place in a large skillet to panfry. You can gently press a dimple into the middle of each patty so they cook a bit more evenly (also a lil pocket to absorb the sauce)
- Begin pan frying the patties over medium heat and browning both sides, this should take about 10 min total. Feel free to use a lid to cover if you have one, I don't have a lid big enough for the pan, so I just lower the heat to cook for longer if I don't find it's cooking through. While those are cooking, make the sauce.
- Combine soy sauce, oliosaccharide (or brown sugar), rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil (and MSG if using). Mix well to dissolve the sugar/incorporate the oliosaccharide into the mixture.
- Once both sides have browned, flip back to dimple side up and drizzle half of the sauce mixture over the patties. Cook and gently shake the pan for the patties to absorb the sauce, then flip the patties and add the other half of the sauce. Again, gently agitate the pan to absorb the sauce and keep the patties from sticking to the pan.
- Once the sauce has been absorbed, turn off the heat and enjoy! I use this in bibimbap or slice for ssam (lettuce wraps).