KOREAN TOFU WITH SPICY KOREAN KETCHUP
Try this super easy, Korean vegetarian side dish – Korean tofu with spicy Korean ketchup!
This pan fried tofu is lightly coated with spicy Korean ketchup. And, yes, it tastes as it sounds. It has lightly crispy texture outside with the usual soft tofu texture inside. It is then covered with sweet, spicy and lightly tangy sauce. Boom.👌
My mum used to make this spicy ketchup tofu for me when I was a little child.
As a child I had to fight over these little tofu pieces with my young uncle, who also lived in our house. It’s quite an addictive side dish, so it was worth fighting for. 😉
The Korean name for this tofu dish is “Dubu Kecheob Jorim (두부 케첩 조림)”, which literally means braised tofu in ketchup. But in this recipe, tofu is just lightly stirred in the sauce. Also, the sauce consists of more than just the ketchup.
Now that some basics are covered, let’s talk about the best way to cook this dish.
PAN FRIED TOFU
For the sake of simplicity, I just like to pan fry the tofu in a skillet until all sides are golden brown.
While it’s not necessary to cook it until all sides are golden brown, I do think it tastes better if you do.
The key is adding the tofu when the skillet is well heated with a generous amount oil, so that it doesn’t stick to the skillet. I normally add even more oil half way through cooking too, so it has a mini “deep frying effect”.
Some people go to even further effort by coating the tofu with some corn or potato starch too. (All before pan frying, of course). If this is your cooking style, by all means, go for it.
SPICY KOREAN KETCHUP
Now you might be intrigued. What is spicy Korean ketchup!?
Essentially, it is tomato ketchup mixed with gochujang (Korean chili paste) and a few other seasoning ingredients. It is so quick to whip up!
I’m sure some people would love using this sauce on a hamburger or with fries too. It’s so versatile!
My mum’s kids friendly version would only use a very small dose of gochujang, so that it’s not overbearing for little ones.
Nonetheless, you can up the spice level according to your preference. Though, I find that the ideal spot is adding around 1 Tbsp to 1.5 Tbsp of gochujang .
HOW TO STORE SPICY KOREAN KETCHUP TOFU
Tofu naturally releases water no matter how well you press it.
Therefore, it is best to consume the seasoned tofu after it’s freshly cooked, as the water can start diluting the sauce.
It still tastes OK but as time goes by, tofu will look less appealing and less saucy.
But if you must, you can store the seasoned tofu in the fridge (in an air tight container) for a day or two.
If you love tofu, don’t forget to check out my other tofu recipes. Pan fried tofu in garlic soy sesame sauce (Korean traditional style), Sundubu Jjigae (Korean Spicy Soft Tofu Stew), and Cold tofu Salad
INGREDIENTS FOR KOREAN TOFU WITH SPICY KETCHUP SAUCE
- 250g / 0.6 pounds tofu, firm to extra firm, cut into cubes
- cooking oil, I used rice bran oil
Spicy Korean Ketchup Sauce
- 3 Tbsp ketchup (also known as tomato sauce in Australia)
- 1 – 1.5 Tbsp gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce, regular
- 1/2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- green onions, finely chopped (optional)
* 1 Tbsp = 15 ml
**If you want to learn about Korean ingredients, check my essential Korean ingredients list.
HOW TO MAKE KOREAN TOFU WITH SPICY KETCHUP SAUCE
1. Combine the spicy Korean ketchup sauce ingredients in a bowl. Mix them well and set it aside.
2. Pat dry the cubed tofu using kitchen paper. You may also want to gently press them down to squeeze more water out. Pan fry the tofu in a skillet over medium high heat until all sides are golden brown. (It will take 2-3 mins on each side.) Remove the tofu from the skillet and set it aside.
3. Pour in the spicy ketchup sauce in the skillet and stir it over medium low heat for about 5 to 10 seconds. Return the tofu to the skillet. Gently coat with the sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions.
4. Serve with steamed rice. (It can be served warm or cold.)