This gochujang tofu recipe is so amazingly flavorful! The crispy tofu is smothered is a savory, spicy and sweet Korean glaze, plus this dish can be done under 20-25 minutes! Serve with rice and a side of veggies for a perfect speedy weeknight dinner.
This recipe is for all the spicy food lovers!
It is so incredibly flavorful and also very easy to make. It reminds me of my sticky tofu recipe, but with a good kick of spicy flavor, thanks to the addition of gochujang paste.
By the way, have you tried cooking with gochujang paste yet? If you love spicy food and Asian flavor, then you need to give it a try. I LOVE that stuff! It is spicy, but also a little sweet and almost smoky, too. The natural sticky texture is fun to cook with and will color your dish to a nice red-ish hue that I find appetizing.
I have already featured gochujang paste in my vegan creamy gochujang pasta recipe on the blog, which is amazingly delicious by the way, but I'm always looking for more ways to use that Korean spicy paste.
And what's better than including it in a speedy tofu recipe for a weeknight dinner? This spicy gochujang tofu recipe is done so quickly and also is completely vegan: you can whip up the sauce while the tofu is roasting in the pan, then pour the sauce over and done! It is rich in umami flavor and coats the tofu bites so nicely.
You can make it more or less spicy by playing around with the amount of gochujang paste you add to the sauce and feel free to make more, it makes for amazing leftovers for the next day!
Let me know if you liked it! ❤️
What is gochujang paste
Gochujang paste is a spicy Korean chili pepper paste that's fermented and just so full of flavor. It has a thick and sticky consistency that mixes very well into a silky red sauce.
It is a popular Korean condiment that's made with glutinous rice, chili powder and fermented soybeans. It is used in all sorts of Asian recipes, such as the popular bibimbap bowl and tteokbokki.
You will find it in Asian grocery stores, but also in regular groceries in the Asian section.
Ingredients you'll need
- Extra-firm tofu: firm tofu will work better than soft ones and will give you a nice chewy bite.
- Gochujang paste: I used 2 tablespoons, but you can start with only one and add more later if you want to make it spicier. I used the gochujang paste from the brand Lucky Food, but any brand will work.
- Tomato paste: ketchup can be used instead if that's easier. I buy tomato paste in a tube that I keep in the fridge, so I can use small amounts at the time, which is super convenient.
- Soy sauce: it flavors the sticky sauce.
- Rice vinegar: just a small amount is needed to add a touch of tangy flavor to the sauce.
- Maple syrup: balances the ingredients by adding a nice sweetness to the sauce. I like maple syrup for this sauce as it also adds a mild caramel taste, but you can use any sweetener you like, such as agave nectar, brown syrup or even regular sugar in a pinch.
- Garlic: adds a nice punch to the sauce! I used 2 large cloves, but you can use even more if you love strong garlic taste. I like to crush it or chop it finely for this recipe so the garlic flavor really diffuses well within the whole sauce.
- Cornstarch: used twice in the recipe: once to coat the cubes of tofu to help crisp it and a second time to thicken the spicy sauce. Arrowroot powder works too.
- Sesame oil: optional, but I like to add a small amount to the sauce for a subtle nutty flavor. I also use it to fry the tofu in the pan, which also helps boost the flavor of the recipe.
How to make gochujang tofu
This recipe should be all done within 20-25 minutes. I recommend to start by prepping and roasting the tofu and while the tofu is cooking, you can whisk the sauce so there is no down time.
Also, if you want to serve it with some veggies and rice/noodles, then also start with cooking these first.
Prep the tofu
Drain and pat dry the tofu very well. Although you don't need to press the tofu, try to remove as much moisture as you can.
Then, cube the block of tofu in about 1-2 inch cubes.
Transfer the cubes of tofu in a large bowl and sprinkle the cornstarch over. Then, gently stir to coat them well with the cornstarch. I like to use my hands to toss the cubes around in the bowl.
Roast the tofu
Heat up a non-stick pan over medium heat and add the sesame oil, if using. Once warmed up, transfer the tofu to the pan and use a spatula/tongs to make sure the pieces are not touching to each other (otherwise they will stick together). Let the tofu brown for a few minutes before flipping the cubes. I like to add a little salt too, but that's optional.
Try to roast each side of the cubes for best crispy result, which can take about 15 minutes.
Whisk the sauce
While the tofu is roasting, whisk together the gochujang paste, tomato paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, water, cornstarch, garlic, maple syrup and sesame oil.
Make sure the sauce is smooth and you don't see any clumps of cornstarch. Set aside until ready to use.
Combine and serve
Once the tofu is roasted to your liking, then turn down the heat to low-medium and pour the sauce over.
Stir the sauce right away and remove from the heat if it simmers too much. It should thicken within one or two minutes. You can add a splash of water if you want to loosen up the sauce. The sauce is ready after simmering for a few minutes, just long enough to remove the raw flavor from the garlic.
Watch how to make it
- Gochujang tofu is spicy, so if you are new to it or don't like spicy food being too overwhelming in flavor, then start with less, about 1 tablespoon. If serving this recipe for kids, you may even want to start with ½ tablespoon and go from there.
- I don't press the tofu for this recipe. You can simply drain it very well and then wrap in a few layers of paper towels to remove the extra moisture.
- For a saucier gochujang sauce, then simply make it without cornstarch and add a little extra splash of water to the pan until desired consistency.
- You can include some veggies right into the sauce if you want. You will have to roast them first in the pan, transfer to a plate before roasting the tofu in the same pan. Add the vegetables back to the pan after you combined the sauce with the tofu and stir to coat them well. If you do add some veggies, then I would recommend to double the sauce recipe to compensate. Vegetables that would work well here are broccoli, onion, cauliflower, mushrooms, green peas, etc.
This spicy tofu recipe is delicious served over rice, but you could also serve it with noodles such as ramen, udon or soba. If you want more sauce so it covers the noodles as well, then simply double the sauce ingredients.
I like to also top this gochujang dish with scallions and sesame seeds as well for a nice pop of color.
You can also get more creative and use this spicy crispy tofu recipe to make tacos or use in lettuce wraps. It is nicely sticky and will actually hold well for that kind of meal.
Leftovers store very well, which is a reason why you should consider making more and pack a few lunches to go ahead of a busy week!
Simply keep it in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. I don't recommend freezing this recipe as it would change the texture of the tofu.
You can reheat it using the microwave or fry for a few minutes in a pan until hot. Add a little water if the sauce thickened too much.
The paste is usually vegan-friendly, but check the ingredients just to be sure.
Yes! Cover the tofu bites in cornstarch as directed and then, distribute over a parchment paper covered baking sheet. You can spray the cubes with olive oil if you want a crispier result, although this is optional. Then, bake at 400º for 25-30 min or until golden brown (flip once or twice and watch carefully). When the tofu is almost done, then combine the sauce ingredients in a medium sauce pan and heat up on medium heat while stirring often until thick. Transfer the baked tofu to the sauce, stir and serve.
Many brands of gochujang paste also contains wheat, such as the one that I used. To make this recipe GF, then you will have to use a GF gochujang paste like the one from the brand Sempio (found online on Amazon) and use a GF tamari sauce instead of regular soy sauce.
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I hope you like this gochujang tofu recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
For the crispy tofu
- 1 block of tofu (14-16 oz)
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- sesame oil - to fry the tofu, optional
For the gochujang glaze
- 1-3 tbsp gochujang - for a more or less spicy recipe, I used 2 tablespoons
- 2 tbsp soy sauce - regular or low-sodium
- 1 tbsp tomato paste - ketchup works too
- ⅓ cup water - or more to taste
- 1 tbsp maple syrup - sugar works too
- ½ tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ½ tbsp cornstarch
- green onions and sesame seeds - to serve
- Drain well and pat dry the block of tofu with paper towels. Then, slice the tofu in about 1-2 inch cubes. Toss the cubes of tofu with the cornstarch in a bowl or using a large bag.
- Warm up a large non-stick pan with a little sesame oil and then add the tofu. Cook on each side on medium-high heat until golden brown, flipping once in a while. This should take 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together in a bowl the gochujang paste, soy sauce, tomato paste, water, maple syrup, rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil and cornstarch. Make sure there are no cornstarch clumps anymore.
- Once the tofu is done to your liking, then turn down the heat to low. Pour the gochujang sauce over and stir right away. The sauce should thicken very quickly, about 1-2 minutes. You want to cook it just enough to remove the raw flavor from the garlic. You can add a little extra water if it got too thick.
- Serve over rice or noodles with a side of veggies. Also delicious with some green onions and sesame seeds over.
- Keep leftovers for 4-5 days in an air-tight container in the fridge. I don't recommend freezing it.
- You can start with 1 tablespoon of gochujang paste and then add more for a spicier recipe.