Lightly pan-fried tofu coated in a flavorful and spicy gochujang sauce. This Tasty vegan gochujang tofu dish can be made In under 20 minutes.
Most Korean households have a tub of gochujang in their fridge – it’s a critical ingredient in Korean dishes.
Rightfully so, it’s the perfect spicy, peppery addition to season any meat, veggie, or noodle dish.
Running out of healthy lunch or dinner ideas? Needing a new meal prep? Want to try something different?
This recipe has got you covered!
What is Gochujang?
In brief, gochujang is a thick, savory, spicy, and fermented chili paste. Additionally, it contains red chili pepper flakes, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, garlic, onions, and salt.
Traditionally, it ferments for several years, during which the starches convert to sugar and give the paste a slight sweetness.
Learn more about the history of gochujang paste here.
Where can you get your hands on this tasty paste?
Markedly, most Asian food markets or supermarkets will have this paste readily at hand. In addition, you can check the international aisle at your local grocery store.
Is Gochujang Vegan?
I always recommend checking the ingredient list just in case, but most all gochujang mixes you find in stores are vegan.
What does Gochujang taste like?
Here are the words I’d use to describe Gochujang:
Hint of sweetness
How do you use Gochujang?
To illustrate, think of gochujang like miso paste – a little goes a long way in adding depth and flavor to any dish.
For example, you can add it to marinade meat – think bulgogi (grilled meat).
Also, you can amp up the flavor of soups and stews – think budae jigae (Korean stew).
It can also be added to a variety of sauces and dips.
In summary, the possibilities are endless and this ingredient is a real superstar in a lot of Korean dishes.
What is Korean tofu made of?
Tofu is made from dried soybeans soaked in water, crushed, and boiled.
Difference between firm, extra firm, and silk tofu?
The water content in tofu is what determines if it’s soft or firm. Softer tofu is often used for soups and stews (or even desserts), while the firmer version is better for baking or stir fry.
Tom isn’t usually a tofu lover because of the tougher texture in most tofu takeout we have. BUT, since I made my dad’s tofu dish, he has come around to liking the softer version.
Typically, tofu comes in extra soft/silken, firm, or extra firm.
What tofu do I use for Gochujang Tofu?
Extra firm if you prefer crispier tofu!
Can I substitute Gochujang for tomato paste?
If I’m being honest, I do not recommend using tomato paste.
In a pinch, you could technically use it as a substitute for gochujang, since it’s got a similar acidic profile. However, it really won’t taste the same.
Tomato paste is made from concentrated tomatoes, while gochujang has fermented peppers with deep, spicy flavors.
If you’re desperate, I would add some chili flakes and paprika to the tomato paste, for the much-needed spice factor.
Ingredients for Gochujang tofu
This tofu marinade and sauce is made up extremely wholesome ingredients:
Gochujang tofu sauce
Vegan gochujang sauce
Umami sauce or soy sauce
Maple syrup or agave
Arrowroot starch or cornstarch, mixed with a tbsp of water
How to Make Gochujang tofu
Firstly, drain the tofu. You can use a tofu presser or place a heavy pan on top of the tofu for 20 – 30 minutes in order to drain excess moisture.
Then, cut the tofu into cubes.
Next, in a big bowl, combine the tofu marinade gently without breaking the tofu, until fully coated.
After, heat up a layer of oil in a non-stick wok or deeper pan to prevent any oil splashing.
Then, over medium to high heat, gently add the tofu to the oil and fry for 2 – 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown on all sides.
Subsequently, remove the tofu and place it onto a paper towel to soak up excess oils.
Following this, in the same pan, add garlic, and ginger and stir for 20 – 30 seconds or until fragrant. Note, that garlic burns very quickly!
Next, add the vegan Gochujang sauce, umami or soy sauce, agave or maple syrup, and rice vinegar.
Then, stir in the starch mixture until well combined as well.
Finally, add in the tofu and turn the heat to low, mixing until all the tofu chunks are well coated.
Tips for making Gochujang Tofu
For extra crispy tofu, you can double fry them.
- Do I have to press the tofu?
No, you do not! However, the tofu ends up crispier if you do
To double fry: remove the fried tofu from the pan, let it cool for 5+ minutes then repeat the pan fry step. You may need to add more oil.
What if I can’t handle spicy?
In this case, you can use less gochujang sauce, or you can replace it with a little bit of ketchup and more salt to taste.
In addition, sometimes there are milder versions of gochujang paste in stores – see if you can find one near you!
How to serve Gochujang Tofu
There’s plenty of ways you can serve Gochujang Tofu. Here are some of my favorites:
- Gochujang tofu bowl – add the tofu to your favorite veggies and top with some sesame seeds
- Rice – plain and simple
- Lettuce wrap – make little taco shells with lettuce and top with some crunchy veggies
- Noodles – mix in with your favorite stir fry noodles
How to Store Gochujang tofu
If you pressed and fried the outer layer until it was crispy, the tofu can stay in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
With this in mind, be aware that if you did not press or bake well, the tofu could release water and dilute your gochujang sauce.
In order to reheat this dish, you can heat it in the microwave for 30-second increments or toss it up in a pan.
Tastes just as good!
OTHER DELICIOUS tofu RECIPES:
What other tofu recipes would you like to see? Leave a comment below.
- 1 block of tofu
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- Salt pepper to taste ¼ tsp each
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 3 tbsp starch
Gochujang Tofu Sauce
- 3- 4 tbsp vegan gochujang sauce
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tbsp minced ginger
- 2 tbsp umami sauce or soy sauce
- 3 tbsp maple syrup or agave
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp arrowroot starch (or cornstarch) mixed with 1 tbsp water)
1. Drain the tofu with a tofu presser or a heavy pan placed on top of the tofu for 20 – 30 minutes.
2. Cut the tofu into cubes.
3. In a big bowl, combine the tofu marinade gently without breaking the tofu
4. Heat up a layer of oil in a non-stick wok or deeper pan
5. Over medium to high heat, gently add the tofu to the oil and
fry for 2 – 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown on all sides.
6. Remove the tofu and place it onto a paper towel to soak up excess oils.
7. In the same pan, add garlic, and ginger and stir for 20 – 30 seconds or until fragrant.
8. Add the vegan Gochujang sauce, umami or soy sauce, agave or maple syrup, and rice vinegar.
9. Stir in the starch mixture and continue to stir until well combined.
10. Add in the tofu and turn the heat to low mixing until all the tofu chunks are well coated.