I was inspired to make a dish like this by a small Korean cafe named "Jiki", where I often go on days where I haven't been able to prepare a lunchbox. I have tried and loved many of their hot food dishes, but they have a spicy tofu and vegetable one that is just out of this world. I didn't have a recipe for this so it isn't exactly like Jiki's but it was very tasty nonetheless.
Korean food is, for me anyway, warm and comforting - perfect for an icy winter's day. I will definitely adventure further into Korean cooking - one of the wonderful things about living in England is how we have all these opportunities to pinch traditions from other cultures. People settle here from all over the world and, in becoming Britons themselves, broaden our own culture and variety of experience.
In my case it's always about the food! Ok, sometimes it's about the clothes too. Plus it's fun to celebrate new feast days. Actually, Koreans celebrate a lunar new year as well as the traditional Gregorian one and personally I am all up for dressing in Hanbok, learning to play Yut Nori and eating Tteokguk next Jan 31st if anyone else is...
Ok, so first thing first, cut a block of firm tofu into sizeable cubes and heat up a good glug of toasted sesame oil in a frying pan. When the oil is really hot place the peices of tofu in and, after a minute or so, turn onto another side - keep doing this until the tofu is crispy all over, it really doesn't take that long. Empty out onto kitchen roll and leave to cool.
To make up the sauce mix together 2 tbsp Korean Gochujang paste, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp mirin and 2 cloves of minced garlic.
Prepare your vegetables by chopping a whole bunch of spring onions into about 4 lengthwise and a lump of ginger (as much as you like, go by preference - I put loads in) into thin slices, put the white parts of the spring onions and the ginger to one side.
Alongside the green parts of the onions, slice some mushrooms, a bell pepper and add some beansprouts - this will work with any veg though, use what you have available and cut into a size that will cook quickly.
When you are ready, reheat the pan still containing the sesame oil from cooking the tofu and, when hot, add the white onion and ginger. Cook until visibly softened before adding the rest of the vegetables and cooking until everything is almost done. Finally, pour in the sauce and stir through thoroughly - you only need to cook the sauce until it's hot and the raw edge to it has gone, it doesn't take much time.
* Note - if you are greedy like us, and not veggie, you can add in some cooked, peeled king prawns at this point. They go really well with the tofu and the spicy sauce. I actually think this sauce would be great with meatier vegetables like aubergines, chicken or even chunky white fish - it's very versatile.
Serve hot, with plain rice and kimchi.