NOTE: I have been making this dish over and over again. I just cannot get enough of how delicious and easy it is. I also decreased the amount of sugar from one tablespoon to 3/4 tablespoon. I prefer for the dish to be less sweet. I also changed the pictures into the most recent dish that I cooked.
Among the things I missed during the pandemic is being able to eat at a Korean restaurant. We had Korean food delivered to our house for dinner but it is just not the same. It will never be. I miss stuffing myself with over a dozen banchan (side dishes) placed at our table while waiting for our main dishes. By the time our orders of Korean barbecue and dolsot bibimbap arrive, I am usually already full . I did not think that I would ever say this but I miss the smokiness of the Korean restaurant. I used to say that I hate smelling like eau de bbq when having Korean food but now, I do not mind at all as long as I get to eat my favorite Korean dishes. As soon as we feel comfortable to eat out again, we are walking to our favorite neighborhood Korean restaurant. Yes, we are that blessed being surrounded by cuisines of all kinds just mere skip and hop from our house.
In the mean time, I would like to share this recipe for Korean braised tofu. Braised tofu is one of the banchan (side dishes) that is served along with other vegetable dishes. It is one of my favorites. I did not realize how easy it is to make this dish.
Being in the Bay Area, we are very fortunate that food of all types are accessible whether at eateries or grocery stores. There is a Korean market that is not far from where I live. It is so convenient to grab Korean staples such as gochugaru flakes. Gochugaru is Korean chili pepper flakes. It is essential in making Korean braised tofu. I found this article explaining the difference between gochugaru and red pepper flakes.
I made Korean braised tofu twice already using two different recipes. They were both good with same ingredients but just different measurements. The recipe that I am sharing tastes exactly like the braised tofu that I had at Korean restaurants.
This is served as a side dish but I eat it as a main dish. The tofu is braised in sweet, savory and spicy sauce. The flavors are so robust that it is flavor explosion in your mouth! And it only takes less than 10 minutes to cook!
KOREAN BRAISED TOFU
FOR THE TOFU
- 1 package firm tofu
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil or neutral oil
FOR THE SAUCE
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 c water
- 3/4 tbsp sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tbsp gochugaru (Korean chili pepper flakes)
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1-2 stalks green onions, sliced, white and green parts *Save some for garnish.
- Mix all of the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
- Squeeze tofu gently to release extra water.
- Cut into rectangular shape and pat dry with paper towels.
- Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick pan and fry over medium to medium high heat until seared on both sides (lightly golden brown) This would take about 2 – 3 minutes on each side.
- Spoon the sauce over the tofu pieces. Simmer for 3 – 4 minutes over medium heat. Turn the tofu over and continue to simmer for another minute.
- Garnish with sliced green onions (optional).
- Serve with a bowl of rice, as a side dish, snack or appetizer.
- There are different kinds of tofu — silken, soft, medium, firm and extra firm. Firm tofu is the one that you would want for this recipe as it will hold its shape while still soft.
- You will find information on the internet regarding different substitutions for gochugaru. I would suggest to try to use gochugaru instead of other types of chili flakes. They are just not the same. Even cayenne pepper is not a good substitute because of the differences in texture and heat level.
- You can add more or less of the chili flakes depending on how spicy you want your dish. I find that gochugaru is not really spicy. It has a little kick but not very hot. I can eat very spicy, though, so please do not trust me! Ha! Ha!
- I did not use up all the sauce in this recipe as I think it is more than enough for one block of tofu. I save the leftover sauce for boiled veggies like bokchoy.
- Sesame seeds complete this dish because they add another nice texture.
- This dish is such a keeper and addicting if you like savory, sweet and spicy Asian dish. It can be eaten hot or cold.
- RECIPE UPDATE (5/5/2022): I added 1/2 cup water to the ingredients for more liquid in the sauce.