When you are in need of some bold flavours, look no further than Korean cuisine! This Spicy Gochujang Tofu recipe will exhilarate your tastebuds to the maximum and leave nothing to be desired! Naturally vegan, this Korean Tofu dish is not for the faint-hearted though: crispy fried tofu is covered in extremely tasty gochujang sauce that is spicy, salty, umami and a little bit smoky. Complex, yet extremely delicious tofu with gochujang is a prime example of Korean cooking that you can easily recreate at home no matter where in the world you are!
- Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Ingredients and Substitutes
- But What Is Gochujang?
- Step-by-Step Method
- Watch How To Make It
- Tips & Tricks For The Best Gochujang Tofu
- Recipe FAQs
- What To Serve With Tofu With Gochujang?
- What Else To Use Spicy Gochujang Paste For?
- Other Delicious Tofu Recipes
- Recipe Card
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost for you! Thank you!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Korean dishes have been sweeping the world with their popularity in the recent decade, including Bulgogi, Korean Cucumber Salad, Bibimbap and Bokkeumbap, and this Gochujang Tofu is another must-try spicy food on everybody’s list.
- An absolute delight for spicy food lovers!
- Tofu with Gochujang is an extremely quick recipe and will only require 20 minutes of hands-on time.
- It pairs very well with a range of different side dishes: see suggestions in the text below.
Ingredients and Substitutes
There are two elements to this flavoursome dish: crispy tofu and spicy gochujang sauce.
For Pan-Fried Tofu Cubes
- tofu: firm or extra-firm tofu work best in this recipe. The texture of the tofu is very important in this recipe so silken tofu will not work here.
- cornflour: also known as corn starch. It can be substituted with potato starch too.
- chilli powder: if you can, use gochugaru (Korean chilli powder), but cayenne pepper or your typical chili powder will work very well too.
- oil: choose odourless oil suitable for frying.
For Spicy Sauce
- gochujang: a spicy Korean fermented chilli paste.
- minced garlic.
- minced ginger.
- brown sugar: brown sugar can be substituted with 2 tablespoon of agave nectar, maple syrup or even clear honey if you’re not cooking for vegans.
- soy sauce: or tamari.
- sesame oil: we used toasted sesame oil.
- tomato paste: also known as concentrated tomato puree.
- rice vinegar: can be replaced with white wine or apple cider vinegar.
- cornflour: also known as cornstarch.
- sesame seeds
- green onions (spring onions).
But What Is Gochujang?
Gochujang is a Korean red chili paste, typically made with chillies, fermented soybeans, rice and salt. It has fiery heat and mild sweetness that arises in the fermentation process. You can source this spicy fermented condiment in many large UK supermarkets (Asda and Waitrose have it). Alternatively, you can buy both on Amazon or Sous Chef or visit your local Korean markets or Asian food shops.
There are two main steps to making this spicy tofu recipe: making pan-fried crispy tofu and making the gochujang sauce.
How To Make Crispy Tofu?
There are many different types of tofu to choose from, but for this recipe, we need the firm or extra firm type. At least half an hour before you start cooking, take your tofu out of the fridge and drain it. If you want your tofu crispy with a firm texture, you will need to press the tofu first.
Wrap in a clean tea towel and place something heavy on top: you can use a large skillet (or any other heavy pan), a chopping board with lots of cans on top or a bunch of books. Doing this ensures any excess water is pressed out.
In a large bowl, mix 3 tablespoon of cornflour with a generous pinch of salt and chilli powder. After 30 minutes of pressing your tofu, cut it into small pieces (or you can break it up with your hands into uneven pieces) and tip them into the cornflour mixture. Make sure to cover all the tofu pieces thoroughly.
Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the coated tofu pieces and stir fry for 5-6 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Using a slotted spoon or a fish slice, take the crispy tofu out of the pan and onto a plate lined with paper towels. It will absorb any excess oil.
How To Make Spicy Gochujang Sauce?
Gather all the sauce ingredients together. Heat sesame oil on low heat, add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for a minute, but don’t let them brown too much. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, tomato puree and gochujang and stir the sauce until the sugar dissolves.
In a small bowl, mix a teaspoon of cornflour with 5 tablespoons of water. Pour the mixture into the pan with the sauce and stir. Simmer on medium heat, stirring continuously, until the sauce thickens to the right consistency to coat the tofu well (it will take up to 1 minute, as the sauce is relatively thick).
Add the crispy tofu to the sauce and stir for 1-2 minutes to coat and warm through.
Scatter sesame seeds and spring onion on top and serve with your favourite side dishes (suggestions below). And here you have it – Gochujang Korean Tofu!
Watch How To Make It
Tips & Tricks For The Best Gochujang Tofu
- If you can, get extra firm tofu. If you can only get your hands on firm tofu, press it for a little longer to get rid of all the excess liquid in it.
- Make sure every side and corner of each individual tofu cube is coated in corn flour to ensure an extra crispy texture.
- Don’t add the tofu to the pan until the oil is hot. The coating will turn soggy and you will struggle to have your tofu crisp up if the oil temperature is too low at the beginning of the cooking.
- Stir the sauce well to avoid clumps of gochujang paste. You want it distributed evenly throughout the sauce.
- Taste the sauce before adding the tofu. If you don’t think it’s spicy enough, just add an extra teaspoon of Korean chilli paste.
- Once you add the cornflour mixture to the sauce, don’t leave your sauce unattended. Stir the sauce heating it on low-medium heat until it thickens enough to coat the tofu. If you take it too far, just add a splash of water.
Most brands of gochujang are vegan, making it a 100% plant-based recipe, but we always recommend checking the label.
It can be! Whilst most brands of Gochujang we tried are naturally gluten-free, we recommend always thoroughly checking the label first. Also, substitute soy sauce for tamari.
What To Serve With Tofu With Gochujang?
Korean Gochujang Tofu is best served with short-grain white rice for the most authentic experience. The glutinous varieties are the most popular choice in Korean cuisine. However, it can be replaced with short-grain brown rice or even your ordinary long-grain rice.
Alternatively, try this gochujang recipe with rice or egg noodles, and you can even put some stir-fried vegetables through it.
This Gochujang Tofu recipe can also benefit from a lovely green side dish. Some of our favourites include:
What Else To Use Spicy Gochujang Paste For?
You will likely have a lot of gochujang paste left (they normally come packaged in big tubs), so put it to good use, and make some more delicious Korean cuisine-inspired recipes:
Other Delicious Tofu Recipes
If you love tofu at least half as much as we do, we are sure you will enjoy some of the recipes below:
Spicy Gochujang Tofu
For Crispy Tofu:
- 300 g tofu firm or extra-firm
- 3 tablespoon cornflour cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder
- 5 tablespoon vegetable oil
For Gochujang Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon gochujang paste
- 1 garlic clove very finely chopped or minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger very finely chopped or minced
- 2 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 level tbsp tomato paste / tomato puree
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
- 5 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 spring onion sliced
- At least half an hour before you start cooking, take your tofu out of the fridge and drain it. Wrap in a clean tea towel and place something heavy on top: you can use a large skillet (or any other heavy pan), a chopping board with lots of cans on top or a bunch of books.
- In a large bowl, mix 3 tablespoon of cornflour with a generous pinch of salt and chilli powder. After 30 minutes of pressing your tofu, break it up into chunks wth your hands (or you can cut it into small pieces with a knife) and tip them into the cornflour mixture. Make sure to cover all the tofu pieces thoroughly.
- Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the coated tofu pieces and stir fry for 10-15 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Using a slotted spoon or a fish slice, take the crispy tofu out of the pan and onto a plate lined with paper towels. It will absorb any excess oil.
- Whilst the tofu is crisping up, heat sesame oil on low heat in a separate pan. Add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for a minute, but don't let them brown. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, tomato puree and gochujang and stir the sauce until the sugar dissolves.
- In a small bowl, mix a teaspoon of cornflour with 5 tablespoons of water. Pour the mixture into the pan with the sauce and stir. Simmer on medium heat, stirring continuously, until the sauce thickens to the right consistency to coat the tofu well.
- Add the crispy tofu to the sauce and stir for 1-2 minutes to coat and warm through.
- Scatter sesame seeds and spring onion on top and serve with your favourite side dishes!