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4.6 from 10 votes

Korean-inspired Fried Tofu with Gochujang

This recipe is inspired by the delicious Korean fried chicken, substituted with tofu. The sauce is spicy and finger-licking good. It tastes great as-is or with a bowl of warm rice, but don't skip the chicken mu.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Tofu prep (freeze and thaw) time1 d 6 hrs
Total Time45 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: spicyfood, tofu
Servings: 4
Author: woonheng

Ingredients

  • 2 lb firm tofu drained, frozen, then thawed
  • 90 g [¾ cup] all-purpose flour
  • 90 g [¾ cup] rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • a few shakes of black pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • oil for brushing and cooking

Gochujang glaze

  • 3 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 8 dried chiles seeds removed
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar distilled or rice
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang
  • ¼ cup toasted cashews
  • Toasted sesame seeds for sprinkling

Instructions

How to freeze tofu*

  • Remove the tofu from its package and drain out the water (but save the package!). Wrap the tofu with paper towels or a clean dishcloth. Place on a cutting board and top with a plate. Now top this plate with something heavy, such as cans or cartons. Let the tofu drain for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Unwrap the tofu. Halve the tofu lengthwise into two slabs. Return the tofu to its package. Freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  • The day before you’re ready to eat, thaw the tofu in the fridge. (To speed things up, you can transfer it to the counter or microwave it as needed.) Squeeze the tofu slabs between your palms or drain them on paper towels to remove as much liquid as possible.

Prepare the tofu

  • Pat-dry one of the prepared tofu blocks, then place on a chopping board. Cut crosswise so you have 5 equal pieces.
  • Now slice each piece crosswise at a slight diagonal to make 2 trapezoids. Repeat with the remaining tofu block (you should get 20 tofu pieces in total). Season generously with salt and pepper.
  • Now, preheat your air fryer to 390°F (200°C) while you prepare the batter. Check the FAQ section above for the bake method. Combine the all-purpose flour, rice flour, and salt in a large bowl. Then slowly add in the water and stir until no large lumps are evident.
  • Once the air fryer is ready, brush a thin layer of oil on the inner air fryer rack. Dredge the tofu sticks in the batter and place them on the greased rack, 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. Remove and transfer tofu to a drain rack to keep them crispy. Repeat until you are done with all the tofu pieces.

Make the glaze and serve

  • To make the sauce, heat a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat and add about 2 teaspoons of oil. Then, sauté garlic and chile peppers for about 30 seconds or so.
  • Next, add in the soy sauce, maple syrup, sugar, vinegar, water, and gochujang. Stir to combine and cook until the mixture is bubbly and sugar has dissolved.
  • Turn down the heat and add the tofu then quickly toss to combine until tofu is coated with the glaze.
  • Fold in the cashews and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately. Don't forget the chicken mu (pickled radish) - see notes for recipe.

Video

Notes

  • *Skip the 'How to freeze tofu' section if you prefer to use fresh firm tofu instead. I do highly recommend giving this freeze-thawed method a try if you have time. A quick note if you are using fresh firm tofu is to drain out as much water as you can or you'll have a less crispy outer layer.
  • Use store-bought or homemade Chicken mu (pickled radish) - check Maangchi's recipe. I followed loosely using 1 part sugar, 1 part vinegar, and 2 parts water with a little salt. Then, soak the radish cubes while I prepare the tofu. This pickle can be refrigerated for up to a week.