Tofu and Kimchi Dinner for One – Recipe

Tofu, kimchi and lots of garnish – dinner for one in no time flat

You could be eating this in less than ten minutes and using only one pot. We had one of those nights where the kids just needed to go to bed early (know how that goes?) and I ended up making this just for myself. It took me right back to my bachelor days, when I took a lot of pleasure in making a tasty dinner for one. Much of the joy in cooking is social, but when you are the only guest, you can take advantage of cooking exactly to your own taste.

[Quick aside: see that lovely new ad for over in my sidebar? That is there because Tim Mar and his crew source some of the most amazing ingredients I’ve ever tried. Surf their site, you’ll love it. And you’ll be supporting Herbivoracious!]

Oddly enough, I didn’t even make rice for this meal. I just ate a lot of tofu. So sue me. But you probably might like some rice.

I wouldn’t dream of making this in anything other than my cast iron skillet.

Of course if you do have company for dinner, you can easily multiply this recipe as needed. It could also be embellished with sauteed shiitakes, finely shredded nori, a fried egg, or a handful of sugar snap peas.

Tasty vegetarian kimchi can be a little hard to find. You have to look closely at the ingredients to see if there is shrimp paste etc. in it. One brand I like is Dae Han Tofu Company, or if you are in Seattle, keep your eye out for the non-traditional but delicious Firefly Kitchens booth at the Farmer’s Markets. Good stuff.

Tofu and Kimchi Dinner for One
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
Serves 1

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 pound extra-firm tofu, patted dry and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • salt
  • toasted sesame oil
  • 2 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup vegetarian kimchi
  • 1 tablespoon ssamjang or 1 teaspon kochujang, or 1 teaspoon sriracha
  1. Heat a large cast iron skillet over a very high flame. Add the oil, and 5 seconds later, the tofu and a great big pinch of salt. Fry, tossing occasionally until golden brown. Add the onion and grated ginger and fry for 30 more seconds.
  2. Mound the tofu into a bowl. Drizzle on a little sesame oil, and garnish heavily with the green onions and sesame seeds. Add a nice pile of kimchi and the hot sauce of your choice. I really love ssamjang because it is only moderately spicy, with a lot of flavor complexity, so you can use quite a bit of it.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, June 28th, 2010 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Kid Friendly, Main Courses, Recipes, Vegan or Modifiable.

10 Responses to “Tofu and Kimchi Dinner for One – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    June 28, 2010 at 7:47 am #

    I’ve yet to be swayed to the ways of kimchee, but I’m still hoping to find one I like someday! This sounds tasty though, and it looks like it belongs in a bento box (though kimchee + bento is probably an Asian-culture-clash; ah well!).

    Thanks too for your comment on my 105 Degrees post. As I have told and will continue to tell everyone, 105 really is worth a trip, at least if you’re ever in or around the Midwest. And I know what you mean about bad raw experiences; at Planet Raw in L.A. my boyfriend Matt was nearly made sick by the foul smell of the place. 105 was nothing like that, though—it was clean, bright, beautiful, and above all delicious.

  2. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    June 28, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    OMG! Planet Raw in LA  is exactly the same place I was referring to when I said I had a bad raw experience. That place is horrific. And expensive. And horrific.

  3. Reply
    June 28, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    Ah, this is some comfort food! I’ve had a lot of trouble finding vegetarian kimchee, though I’ve just moved to Portland and I’m hoping that there are some options for me. Or I guess I could make my own? (maybe too ambitious…) I’ve asked my grandmother for recipes, but unfortunately for me hers includes beef broth and anchovies.

  4. Reply
    June 28, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    Looks good. We’re running low on food in our house, but with some tofu and kimchi in the fridge, I’m going to give this a whirl tonight. Thanks for the idea!

  5. Reply
    June 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

    Amber Shea – Koreans have their version of lunchbox, called dosirak, that’s very similar to the Japanese bento. Kimchi is commonly included.

    If any vegetarians want to make their own kimchi, I’d suggest substituting sea salt for the fish sauce/shrimp paste. It won’t taste quite the same, but it’s a good alternative!

    To the people who have only had a bad experience with kimchi–please don’t be afraid to try a different kind. Kimchi comes in so many variations (although I know that it might be hard to find more than the Napa cabbage version), and I’ve found that many who say they dislike kimchi just need to be introduced to a different type. I’ve had the most success converting friends over with cucumber kimchi and, of course, homemade makkimchi, or “quick” kimchi.

  6. Reply
    June 28, 2010 at 8:18 pm #

    Yum! I fell in love with kimchi after much persistence with it while I was teaching in Sth Korea. I have never known how to recreate quickly anything Korean though, and usually just eat it straight out of the tub as a snack.

    This looks great though! Will have to try it out.

  7. Reply
    July 1, 2010 at 12:50 am #

    Micheal, you had me at kimchi. 🙂

    I’ve never seen a non-vegetarian kimchi. I’ll have to check the labels better. Have you ever tried making your own? It’s pretty simple and the results can be fantastic. The recipe I use doesn’t use fish sauce, and has an incredibly crisp, clean taste.

  8. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    July 6, 2010 at 3:12 pm #

    I'd love to see your recipe! Maybe you should do a post about it if you haven't already.

  9. Reply
    June 4, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    I know this is an old post, but I thought you might like to know that this is similar to dubu kimchi, one of my comfort foods from when I was little. the way my mother taught me was to lightly fry the slices of dubu on a non-stick griddle, not a lot (though I think others might serve it boiled and sliced, but bah! to not frying something when you can fry it), just enough to get a little skin and keep it’s shape. We’re meat eaters, so she’d cook strips of pork in garlic, and then add the cabbage kimchi (slightly older kimchi is best) and cook it all together. I saw you like kimchi fried rice, so you know how good cooked kimchi is! Then she would add the sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, etc, but if you have jarred ssamjang, you could just use that, if you don’t mind the extra doenjang flavor. You then mound the kimchi in the middle of a platter and then fan the dubu around it, no rice needed. A garnish of sesame seeds and green onion is nice. Wrap a piece of dubu around the kimchi and there you go. This is a tradtional anju (like a bar food), so it’s best to chase it down with a nice crisp beer and everyone just sharing from the platter.

    • Reply
      June 5, 2013 at 10:31 am #

      Sounds fantastic to me! And I agree, why boil when you can fry???

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