Korean BBQ Tempeh

Am I a picky eater or do I just know what I like?

Korean BBQ Tempeh Sammie.jpg

I'd like to think the second one, because it seems I have a bit of a habit of trying to recreate restaurant dishes at home, either because I’d like to enjoy them more often for less money, or frequently because I’m convinced I can do it better (or at least in a way more pleasing to me). This blog isn't even a year old and by my rough estimate, over 10% of the recipes fall under this category. See exhibits A, B, C, D, E, and F. 

This sandwich is yet another example of a dish that gets me super excited when I see it on the menu of a local restaurant chain, but for some reason, it always flops a bit in execution. Well, actually, for a specific reason, flavor. If you tell me on a menu that your tempeh is going to be slathered in Korean BBQ sauce, then you better believe I’m expecting a glorious flavor bomb on my sandwich. If in reality what I end up paying for makes me yawn in disappointment, then I’m going to take your brilliant idea and run with it into my own kitchen, and grill up a better umami delivery system.  

Tempeh Sliced.jpg
Korean BBQ Sauce.jpg
Korean BBQ Tempeh Sandwich.jpg

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you exhibit G.

Korean BBQ Tempeh

Makes enough for 2 sandwiches.  Inspired by the Plant. Sauce recipe adapted from Food & Wine.

1 package tempeh
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/2 tbs rice vinegar
1/4 cup gogujang
1 tsp sesame oil
1/8 cup ketchup
1/8 cup honey
2 cloves grated garlic
1/2 tbs white pepper
2 soft sandwich buns

For garnish:
1 small daikon radish, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
1 tsp good coarse sea salt

  1. Bring a medium pot of water fitted with a steamer basket to a simmer. Cut the tempeh in half width-wise, then slice each piece carefully through the middle, so you have 4 thin tempeh squares. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes.
  2. While tempeh is steaming, whisk together all sauce ingredients until smooth and pour into a sealable bag or a shallow dish, reserving 3 tbs of the sauce for basting later. Once tempeh has finished steaming, add to the sauce and let marinate, covered, for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the garnishes. Toss together daikon, vinegar and sugar until well combined and keep covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. Toss together cucumber and salt and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
  4. When ready to cook, heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat, and cook tempeh 3-5 minutes on each side. 
  5. When tempeh is almost done, split buns, spread each half with mayonnaise and toast on the grill until golden. Layer tempeh, garnishes, and more mayo if desired on the buns and serve immediately.


  • These sandwiches can easily be made vegan. Substitute agave in the sauce (use a little less and taste for sweetness) and use vegan mayonnaise.