This vegan crispy gochujang tofu is a great source of plant-based protein that provides incredible flavors and is fantastic make-ahead dish. The sauce is spicy, savory, slightly sweet, and oh-so-addictive!
Why we love this this Vegan Crispy Gochujang Tofu
We love simple one-pan recipes that we can use for meal prep or can easily be whipped up on a busy weeknight. This vegan crispy gochujang tofu is definitely one of those. It's not only healthy and nutritious, but packed with bold flavors and doesn't require any special cooking technique. The sticky sauce is spicy, slightly sweet, and the tofu is satisfyingly crispy. Additionally, this dish requires only Asian staple ingredients, which is always a plus when you come back after a long day of work and don't have time or energy to go grocery shopping!
More related recipes:
- Spicy Gochujang Fried Chicken
- Easy Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap)
- Spicy Gochujang Stir-Fried Chicken
Best tofu to use
Growing up in a Chinese household, tofu is definitely a staple ingredient that our family uses regularly and that we all love. We never understood people saying they don't like tofu, because there's so many different types that there's bound to have one for anyone's taste. In this dish, the tofu is pan-fried, and the best tofu to use is firm or extra-firm tofu. We highly suggest not using soft tofu, as it will be very difficult to cook. The difference between soft and firm tofu is the density of water in it. The more firm it is, the less water and moisture it has. For frying, we need a tofu that has low water density and low moisture, so that it can be fried and crispy! Also, note that the terms firm and pressed can sometimes be used interchangeably on tofu packages.
Additionally, it's easier to use tofu in sealed packages as per the photo above, compared to the ones that are conserved in water in a container. This will save you draining time as the tofu needs to be dry once you start the pan-frying process.
What is Gochujang?
Gochujang is very popular Korean red pepper paste and is heavily used in Korean cuisine. It's spicy, savory and slightly sweet. It packs a lot of flavors and makes any dish addictive to eat! Because it is a fermented condiment, we would consider it healthy, which is always a plus! It's also a vegan-friendly paste, but make sure to double-check the ingredients, as some of them sometimes add anchovies. We buy ours from our local Asian supermarket, but you can find a popular one online here.
Tips to make the best vegan crispy gochujang tofu
- Use firm tofu and make sure to pat it dry before frying. This will ensure you get the best crispy tofu!
- Adjust the amount of gochujang and gochugaru to your personal preference. Our exact recipe make for a medium spicy sauce.
- Mix-well the sauce mixture before cooking. Gochujang can take some time to mix in well, using a whisk will help the process.
- Let the sauce thicken when cooking so that it gets sticky and coat the crispy tofu.
How to serve
This dish can be served as a side dish or a main. We like to eat it with a hot bowl of steaming rice, as well as some stir-fried vegetables. It's also a great recipe to have for meal prep and can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
For the crispy tofu
- Firm pressed tofu is the best kind to get crispy bites.
- White pepper, sea salt and garlic powder to season your tofu. It's important to season all parts of the dish.
- Cornstarch is the secret ingredient to make the tofu crispy.
- Oil for cooking, preferably neutral. We used vegetable oil.
For the gochujang glaze
- Gochujang is the Korean pepper paste that is the based of our glaze.
- Gochugaru will add some extra spice, but feel free to adjust the amount if you prefer a milder taste.
- Low-sodium soy sauce is the umami kind and will add saltyness to the glaze.
- Sesame oil for that nutty note.
- Cornstarch is the thickening agent.
- White sugar for the sweetness of the sauce. Brown sugar, cane sugar or honey can also be used. Please note that honey is not vegan!
- Rice vinegar will add a sweet acidic taste and will balance out the savory and spicy of the other seasonings.
- Water to create the glaze and combine all ingredients together.
- Green onion, optional.
Drain the tofu and let sit on paper towels for a few minutes.
Prep the glaze. While the tofu is draining, whisk together all the ingredients for the gochujang glaze and set aside.
Prep the tofu. Once the tofu is dry, cut into 1 inch cubes and place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the sea salt, white pepper, cornstarch and garlic powder. With a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula, mix together until all the tofu cubes are lightly coated.
Pan-fry the tofu. In a medium pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil on medium heat. Gently add the tofu pieces on the pan and let cook for 10 minutes. Turn on other side and let cook another 10 minutes.
Cook the glaze. Pour over the gochujang glaze and mix together to ensure all tofu pieces are coated. Let the glaze cook for 2-3 minutes, or until it thickens.
Assemble and serve! Once the glaze has thickened, remove from heat and serve in a bowl. Sprinkle green onions on top, optional.
Vegan Crispy Gochujang Tofu
For the crispy tofu
- 400 grams firm pressed tofu
- 1 pinch white pepper
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp oil
For gochujang glaze
- 1 tbsp gochujang
- 1 tsp gochugaru
- 1 1/2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp white sugar
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 green onion chopped
- Drain the tofu and let sit on paper towels for a few minutes.
- While the tofu is draining, whisk together all the ingredients for the gochujang glaze and set aside.
- Once the tofu is dry, cut into 1 inch cubes and place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the sea salt, white pepper, cornstarch and garlic powder. With a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula, mix together until all the tofu cubes are lightly coated.
- In a medium pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil on medium heat. Gently add the tofu pieces on the pan and let cook for 10 minutes. Turn on other side and let cook another 10 minutes.
- Pour over the gochujang glaze and mix together to ensure all tofu pieces are coated. Let the glaze cook for 2-3 minutes, or until it thickens.
- Once the glaze has thickened, remove from heat and serve in a bowl. Sprinkle green onions on top, optional!