Vegan

Gochujang-Glazed Tofu

July 12, 2021
10 Ratings
Photo by WoonHeng Chia
Author Notes

"Tofu is bland" or "Can you really make tofu taste good?" is what I hear all the time when I tell people I love tofu. While a block of tofu may not look exciting, it is. You just need the proper preparation and seasoning. Tofu is made from one of my favorite humble ingredients, the soybean. This bean is mighty! Why? It can turn into soy milk, tofu, yuba, and much more. Tofu comes in different forms, from silken to firm. The difference between them is the water content: The softer the tofu, the higher the water content is, and vice versa. There are so many ways to prepare tofu: baked, steamed, boiled, fried…. Today, you'll learn how to air fry the tofu using the freeze-and-thaw method for that extra spongy and chewy texture. Note: The frozen tofu will take about 1 day to thaw in the fridge, so plan ahead. This way of preparing the tofu is similar to my Crispy Tofu Katsu, but it uses a different coating; instead of crunchy panko, a simple flour-and-water batter yields a delightful crust. Once they are air fried, tofu sticks get tossed in a spicy, sweet gochujang glaze inspired by the popular Korean fried chicken recipe from Maangchi. This sauce is finger-licking good and has all the components I love: sweet and salty, with a touch of tang. It's a great recipe for tofu lovers and skeptics alike.

If you don’t have an air fryer, you can do this instead: Heat the oven to 425°F. Lay the battered tofu sticks on a foil-lined, greased sheet pan, and spray or dab the tofu with some oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, then broil for about 5 minutes to crisp up. Be sure to serve your tofu with store-bought or homemade pickled Korean radish, more commonly known as chicken mu.
WoonHeng Chia

  • Prep time 30 hours 10 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • serves 4
Ingredients
  • Battered Tofu
  • 2 (14-ounce) blocks firm tofu, drained, frozen, then thawed
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 90 grams (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 90 grams (3/4 cup) rice flour
  • Neutral oil, for brushing
  • Gochujang Glaze
  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil
  • 8 dried Thai red chiles, seeds removed
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang
  • 2 teaspoons distilled or rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup toasted cashews
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for sprinkling
  • Pickled Korean radish (chicken mu), for serving
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Pat one of the prepared tofu blocks dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, then place on a chopping board. Cut crosswise so you have 5 equal pieces. Now slice each piece crosswise at a slight diagonal (see the photo for a reference). Repeat with the remaining tofu block (you should get 20 tofu pieces in total). Season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat your air fryer to 390°F while you prepare the batter. (If you don’t have an air fryer, see Author Notes for an alternative oven method.) Combine the all-purpose flour, rice flour, and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. While stirring, slowly pour in 1 cup of water and keep mixing until no large lumps appear. The batter should be able to coat the tofu sticks without much dripping. If it’s too thick, add more water; if it’s too thin, add more all-purpose or rice flour.
  3. Once the air fryer is ready, brush a thin layer of oil on the inner rack. Dredge the tofu sticks in the batter and place them on the greased rack, spaced slightly apart. (Air fry in multiple batches if necessary.) Air fry for 6 minutes, then pause the air fryer. Remove the rack and brush another thin layer of oil on the tofu to get a crispier top. Continue to air fry for another 6 minutes, until the tofu turns golden brown and crispy. Transfer the tofu to a wire rack to keep it crispy. Repeat until you’ve cooked all the tofu pieces.
  4. To make the sauce, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat and add the oil. Sauté the chiles and garlic for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the soy sauce, maple syrup, sugar, gochujang, vinegar, and water. Stir to combine and cook until the mixture is bubbly and the sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute. Turn down the heat to low and add the tofu. Quickly toss to combine until the tofu is coated. Fold in the cashews and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
  5. Serve immediately with a side of pickled radish.

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