Tofu Tacos (a la Kogi BBQ)

by formerchef on February 22, 2010

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I never thought these words would ever come out of my mouth;
“Oh my God, these tofu tacos are so good!”
But that was before the 21 day Cleanse Diet, before I was desperately hungry one night after working late, and before the Kogi BBQ truck entered my world.

For those who are not aware of the gourmet food truck phenomenon which had gripped Los Angeles, the Kogi truck is credited with starting the frenzy about a year ago. Sure, LA had always been home to many traditional taco trucks, but in a stroke of pure genius chef Roy Choi decided to combine the flavors of Korean BBQ and Mexican tacos. When they started with their first truck they brilliantly utilized Twitter to let people know where they were going to be and the lines were legendary. Now they have 4 trucks and it’s easier to get a taco if they happen to be in the neighborhood.
Of course, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and now there are dozens of gourmet food trucks rolling all over the southland, serving up everything from Vietnamese Banh Mi, to French Fries, to Grilled Cheese. There’s even a website which tracks all the trucks in LA and now other cities across the US.

Back to the tofu tacos…in the first days of the cleanse diet, I was having a hard time of it and late getting home one night. I was worried that I was going to have to have another bowl of bean soup when my husband called me and told me he’d spotted the Kogi truck a few blocks from our house. He’d stopped earlier to get himself a couple of Korean Short Rib tacos (bastard!) and noticed they had tofu on the menu (aw, thinking of me, redeemed), and that there was no line. I decided to stop because I was starving and I figured if anyone could make a tofu taco taste good, it would be a Korean taco truck.

I was not disappointed. In fact, I was thrilled to the point that I decided there and then that I would try to make them at home so I wouldn’t have to chase down the truck. They came out so good that I’ll eat them even when I’m not on the diet. Plus, I think it’s a nice change of pace from the standard vegetarian/vegan fare and a great option for Meatless Mondays.

I know that Korean-Mexican may sound like an odd combo but it really works.  Have you had any unusual flavor or cuisine combinations lately which surprised you?

Tofu Tacos (a la Kogi BBQ)
Inspired by eating these tacos and by the menu on their website
Printable Recipe in PDF for Tofu Tacos

small corn tortillas (about a dozen)
8 oz firm tofu, diced small
1 Tbsp canola oil

For the tofu marinade:
3 Tbsp soy sauce*
1/2 tsp chili garlic paste
1 tsp fish sauce*
1 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp lime juice
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

Dice the tofu into 1/2 inch squares. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and toss with the tofu. Allow to the tofu to marinate for about 1/2 an hour and stir occasionally to distribute the marinade.

Heat a large wok and add the 1 Tbsp oil. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tofu from the marinade and quickly stir-fry in the wok.

Chili-Soy Vinaigrette
1/2 tsp chili garlic paste
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp canola (or other neutral) oil

Dress the lettuce/cabbage mix with some of the the Chili-Soy vinaigrette, to taste. Slice the onions and combine with chopped cilantro.

1 cup iceberg lettuce and/or green cabbage, dressed with Chili-Soy Vinaigrette
1/4 cup salsa verde*
3 each green onions, thinly sliced
1 oz cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges

Serve on warmed corn tortillas with dressed lettuce/cabbage, salsa verde, green onions, cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

*Recipe Notes:
Soy sauce is not technically gluten-free, so use a GF version if needed.
Fish sauce is not vegan but I made a teeny-tiny exception here for the sake of flavor. Leave out if you must.
Salsa verde; I bought this but if you want to make your own, it’s typically made with roasted tomatillos, green chilies and cilantro.
The Chili-Soy Vinaigrette recipe makes more than you will need for this recipe but will keep in the fridge for a few weeks just fine.

1 RJ Flamingo February 22, 2010 at 8:39 am

This sounds delicious! While we’re not vegetarians, we actually like tofu and are always looking for new and interesting ways to enjoy it. 🙂

2 Chef Gwen February 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm

As a Texas beef lovin’ gal, I never thought I’d say this either, but those look lip-smaking delicious. I think the key is all the flavor layers you have that disguise the naturally bland, pasty taste of tofu. Brilliant.

3 Wanderluster February 26, 2010 at 3:06 am

These look truly amazing. Can’t wait to make them myself!

4 Beth March 4, 2010 at 5:43 am

I made these yesterday and they were amazing!!!! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

5 Emilee April 12, 2010 at 11:36 am

I’ve tried many tofu taco recipes and these are definitely the best I’ve ever made. Thanks for sharing!

6 David Knapp June 29, 2010 at 10:27 am

Hi, I can’t wait to try these tofu tacos. I even bought tofu for the first time in years. I found your site when looking for Kobi’s blackjack quesadilla recipe.

One comment, I think you are using the default favicon, which is the bluehost grid. You might want to do a quick favicon search and change it to something more reflective of your blog.

Also, your photographs are amazing. If you haven’t already posted about how you take your pictures, that would make a great posting.


7 MeatHub Inc. October 6, 2010 at 1:07 pm

For being made with tofu… these tacos look excellent 🙂

8 Russia October 19, 2010 at 2:39 am

Those tacos look amazing! I am planning on making them tonight yay!!! I just used your marinara recipe on a whim yesterday and it tasted great!!! I really love your site! Thanks for sharing your wonderful and tasty recipes 🙂

9 Leonor January 26, 2011 at 4:11 pm

yes yes yes!!!! I tried the tofu tacos too at the Kogi that I found in my town one evening..and holy moley are they delicious!!! I was trying to figure out the items that made this all come together it was just too good..I gobbled it all down before I got to write it down…haha so I’m very grateful you have this recipe here…oh boy I cant wait to try it!

10 formerchef January 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm

It’s still one of my favorites. Hope you enjoy it!

11 Lady Amalthea February 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I want a Korean/Mexican fusion taco truck! That sounds amazing! We’re big fans of Mexican food and I’m always looking for interesting ways to spice up tofu, so this sounds like a winner all the way around. Thanks so much for coming up with the recipe!

12 Mickey katz June 30, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Great recipe. I found that I was able to infuse most of my flavor by using a tofu press to get all the water out.

13 Sherrie October 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Hey! Just wanted to let you know that I gave this recipe a whirl last night and it was a huge success. Delicious and just as good (if not BETTER) than the taco truck!

I didn’t buy any cabbage for the topping, because we still have backyard kale going, so I chopped that up very finely for the topping, and it totally worked.

Here’s an Instagram of my efforts:

Thx for this link! DEERISHUS

14 Kweli November 15, 2014 at 4:50 pm

I just made these. This recipe is POWERFUL! I can’t tell you how many times I chased down that Kogi truck… These are as good, if not, better. My mouth could not believe all that goodness in each bite. Thank you for figuring it out and sharing it. The fish sauce was a plus. I added a pinch of sugar to the cabbage. Yum!

15 formerchef November 15, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed them. I still make them often too.

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