Braised gochujang tofu is a quick and simple but flavour-packed dish that we're sure will become your new favourite tofu dish. Known as dubu jorim in Korea, it just requires frying pieces tofu until golden brown then simmering in a delicious sauce. It only takes 10 minutes, barely any prep time, and is perfect as a flavoursome side dish or as a main, served with vegan kimchi fried rice and stir fried vegetables.
🌟 Why this recipe works
Incredible flavours – this Korean braised gochujang tofu recipe may only have 9 ingredients, but it packs in huge flavours. This is one of those instances where a little goes a long way! A lot of that is thanks to the all-important gochujang paste which offers a whole spectrum of savoury, sweet, spicy and fermented flavours. And if you love tofu dishes, you may also love this sticky Szechuan tofu that has a similar cooking method.
Quick and easy to make – 5 minutes of prep and 10 minutes of cook time is all that's needed to create this delicious dubu jorim. It's as simple as mixing the sauce, frying the tofu and then simmering for 5 minutes to infuse the flavours. Finally, just reduce the sauce down and serve with rice, red pepper flakes and green onions!
Great as a side or main – traditionally this braised gochujang tofu is served as a side dish, it's a big hitter to go on the side of any of your favourite Korean dishes. We often serve it as a main too though, simply on top of rice with some stir fried vegetables on the side to bulk it out and add some extra goodness.
❓What is dubu jorim?
Dobu is Korean for tofu or beancurd. Jorim is a type of simmered Korean dish, it's cooked down so that some of the liquid is absorbed by the tofu and the rest reduces down and thickens.
Usually, it is soy sauce based but gochujang paste is also often used as it is a classic ingredient. So dubu jorim basically means tofu cooked in a boiled down sauce.
Tofu is actually not an unusual ingredient to be used in jorim as it's very popular in Korea. It is often also paired with vegetables, tofu, meat or fish.
If you've not come across braising before, it's a combination of two cooking methods – dry heat and wet heat.
For this braised gochujang tofu that basically means browning the tofu first using a dry heat, and then adding liquid ingredients to cook it in – the wet heat. It's a bit like stewing but with much less liquid. It's actually a very fun method of cooking, and super easy too!
📋 Ingredient notes
Tofu – We recommend using a firm or extra-firm tofu when making this braised tofu recipe. There are a couple of common types that can be found in the UK, the kind that comes in a plastic container filled with water, and the kind that's vacuum sealed. The plastic container kind is usually firm and the vacuum sealed kind is usually extra firm.
The kind in hard packaging is traditionally used. It's often a firm tofu but isn't super-firm, so we recommend pressing the tofu. This removes excess water and means that the amazing flavours of the sauce can soak into the tofu.
You can do this in a few ways – use a specially made tofu press (like we do), or lay out the tofu on kitchen paper and put some heavy objects on it to apply pressure. Alternatively, simply cut it into slices and firmly pat it with kitchen paper.
The type of tofu that comes in the vacuum sealed packaging is super firm. It seems to be already pressed which makes it super convenient. All you need to do is drain it, slice it and start cooking. This type of tofu works well as vegan chicken nuggets.
Gochujang – gochujang is incredibly delicious – if you've tried it, you'll know what we're talking about. It's a Korean chili paste that's a happy combination of (quite) spicy, sweet and savoury. Generally it's made using red chillies, glutinous rice (the sticky kind used for dishes like mango sticky rice) and fermented soy beans.
It's a pretty crucial ingredient for delivering the deep flavours that this recipe offers. We have seen it in supermarkets over the last few years. If you can't find it in yours, check out your local oriental supermarket. If you can't find it, check out this homemade gochujang alternative.
Sesame oil – sesame oil offers such an amazing and unmistakable flavour. It has to be called out as essential for this recipe. However, you can definitely make this dish without it. So, if you want to, use a mild cooking oil like vegetable oil, rapeseed (canola) or similar. However, we really think the extra flavour from the oil is the cherry on top.
Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this article for exact measurements to make this Korean braised tofu recipe.
🔪 Braised tofu step-by-step instructions
This is a step-by-step overview with photos for making this braised gochujang tofu dish. The full recipe, along with measurements and detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Press the firm tofu or pat dry with paper towels to remove excess liquid.
In a small bowl or jug, add half the sesame oil along with the soy sauce, water, gochujang, sugar and garlic. Stir until well combined.
Pour the other half of the sesame oil to a wok or large frying pan. Place over a high heat. Next, add tofu slices into the pan and fry until golden brown. Flip and fry the other side until golden brown.
Once the tofu has browned, reduce to medium-high heat and pour in the sauce. Allow it to bubble away until the sauce has reduced and thickened. This should take around 5 minutes.
It's as easy as that to make gochujang tofu! Serve in a bowl topped with the toasted sesame seeds and spring onion, alongside vegan fried rice. Optionally add Korean red chili pepper flakes, a.k.a. gochugaru.
👩🍳 Expert tips
Don't overfill the pan – whether you're using a wok or a large frying pan to make braised tofu, don't overfill it. In order to brown off the firm tofu, it needs space. So it's pretty difficult to do if the wok is crowded. Secondly, the tofu needs to be well covered in the spicy gochujang sauce. That's so it can really take on the amazing flavours. That's not possible if the pan is overcrowded.
Make it gluten free – this Korean braised tofu recipe is already vegetarian and vegan friendly, but you can also make it gluten free with one simple switch! Soy sauce has a small amount of gluten in it, but you can switch this for a gluten free soy sauce. Alternatively, use tamari which is basically a Japanese soy sauce that has no gluten in it. Find out the best substitutes for soy sauce and for tamari.
Variations – you could try making this Korean braised tofu dish with tempeh instead! As well as being good for the gut, tempeh is another great protein option. Other variations include making it with chickpea tofu or even using the sauce ingredients to make a stir fry!
Storage – dubu jorim can be kept in the fridge for 3 days in an airtight container. Reheat in a frying pan or wok on the stove. The texture of tofu changes once frozen, so for this reason, we don't recommend freezing.
It's tofu that's first been fried and then boiled in a sauce. The sauce thickens during cooking and becomes rich in flavour. Our recipe uses soy sauce, gochujang and a few other ingredients to make a delicious Korean braised tofu.
Start off by browning the tofu with a splash of oil, then add the sauce and simmer until the tofu has absorbed the flavours and the sauce reduces and thickens up. Check out our full recipe for an amazing Korean braised tofu.
Tofu is an important ingredient in Korean cooking, and the same goes for most Asian countries. As well as gochujang tofu, there are several dishes with tofu as a main ingredient such as sundubu jjigae or debu with stir-fried kimchi.
🍛 Serving suggestions
Braised tofu can be served as a main or as a side dish. If serving gochujang tofu as a main or side, it goes well with:
🍲 More tofu recipes to try
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Braised Gochujang Tofu
- 400 g firm tofu – cut into 8 large rectangular slices
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon gochujang paste
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic – minced
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 spring onion – sliced
- Press the firm tofu or pat dry with paper towels to remove excess liquid. Not necessary if you have extra-firm tofu. Slice into 8 rectangular slices.
- In a small bowl or jug, add half the sesame oil along with the soy sauce, water, gochujang, sugar and garlic. Stir until well combined.2 tablespoon sesame oil, 3 tablespoon soy sauce, 3 tablespoon water, 1 tablespoon gochujang paste, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 tablespoon garlic
- Pour the other half of the oil into a wok or large non stick frying pan and bring over a high heat. Next, add the tofu slices into the pan and fry until golden brown, then flip and cook the other side until golden brown.400 g firm tofu, 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- Once the tofu has browned, reduce to medium-high heat and pour in the sauce. Allow it to bubble away until the sauce has reduced and thickened. This should take around 5 minutes.
- Serve topped with the toasted sesame seeds and spring onion (green onions). Optionally add Korean chili pepper flakes, a.k.a. gochugaru. Serve in a bowl with rice and a side of veggies.1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds, 1 spring onion
- Use firm or extra firm tofu. If using the type that comes in hard packaging with a lot of water, press the tofu before using.
- Make it gluten free by using gluten free soy sauce or tamari.