I love Korean chili flakes, Gochugaru and these Spicy Korean Style Tofu Bowls hit an addicting spicy note and with a bit of sticky sweet. These are very hot! Spicy hot but so good. You can adjust the amount of chili flakes and sriracha in the recipe, however, you will still have some heat. But that’s what makes it work and work well. This recipe is made with tofu, but you can certainly substitute chicken or shrimp for a delicious twist.
This is not an authentic Korean dish, it’s a twist on flavors and the main flavoring ingredient being the Gochugaru chili flakes that are primarily used in Korean dishes. The closest may be in ingredients in Dubu Jorim which is a braised tofu dish. In my recipe, I fry the tofu to add a crisp texture and place back in the sauce for a few minutes for the flavors to blend and the sauce to stick to the tofu. I also add more heat by adding Sriracha which is mainly used in Thai food recipes. I like the perfect balance of spice, texture and it is widely available in most supermarkets. The result is an addictive, very hot and spicy tofu with a touch of sweetness. This dish is best served with steamed rice, a steamed vegetable and a side of pickled cucumbers to counteract the spice level.
For this recipe, I adapted my basic sauce for Grilled Asian Style Chicken Wings and made it work with these Spicy Korean Style Tofu Bowls. I will also show you how to adjust the spice level for this dish.
What is Gochugaru?
If you have never tried these delicious chili flakes, you must try them. These brightly hued chili flakes are obviously spicy hot, but there is some depth the flavor. I discovered them in a recipe and admittedly had never heard of these magical chili flakes. Now, with this dish especially, I love using them both in the sauce and a little sprinkle afterwards. So what makes Gochugaru different from crushed red pepper flakes? According to pepperscale.com, the pods are deseeded and sun dried. This affects the color and flavor. There are also varying degrees of heat intensity, maewoon gochugaru is the hottest and deolmaewoon gochugaru is the milder version. The brand I buy is from Amazon, non-gmo, course grind Gochugaru by Crazy Korean Cooking.
Let’s Prepare Spicy Korean Style Tofu Bowls
It’s an easy dish to prepare, you just need a little time to prep the tofu so it crisps up beautifully. The sauce comes together all at once making this easier. Serve with rice and veggies and for a short cut, use frozen that can be ready in 5 minutes.
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Spicy Korean Style Tofu Bowls
- small sauce pan
- medium non stick pan
- 16oz block Tofu extra firm
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar seasoned
- 4 tbsp sesame oil toasted
- 4 tbsp soy sauce low sodium
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- 1 tsp Gochugaru Korean chili flakes, coarse grind
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp pepper white, ground
- pinch salt kosher
- canola or other neutral oil for frying tofu
- Remove block of tofu from container and discard water.
- Place and wrap in clean kitchen towel with heavy dish on top to remove all excess water.
- Allow the excess water to drain for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- In a small saucepan, combine rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, minced garlic, white pepper and add a pinch of kosher salt.
- Add sriracha and gochugaru. If you are concerned about the spice level, start with half.
- On low heat, warm ingredients through and gently simmer for about 2 minutes. Taste carefully to check for spice level. Add remainder and more if you choose.
- Remove from heat.
- Once the tofu is ready, cut tofu into 1 inch cubes.
- Place in bowl and sprinkle cornstarch on top and gently toss.
- Preheat nonstick pan with about 1 tablespoon of canola oil
- Once the oil is hot, carefully add the tofu and allow to brown on all sides. About 5 minutes on each side.
- When the tofu is browned evenly, remove from oil and place on paper towels on plate to remove excess oil.
- Carefully remove any excess oil from nonstick pan and place tofu and sauce mixture back into pan.
- Heat through for about 3 minutes until bubbling. Gently stirring the tofu until it's fully covered in sauce.
All content and photographs ©Claudia’s Table and claudiastable.com