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Sweet and Spicy Gochugaru Tofu

Sweet n’ Spicy Gochugaru Tofu is a super flavourful protein that’s perfect in sandwiches and subs, atop rice or salads. The super easy marinade made with Korean Red Pepper Flakes (aka gochugaru) soaks into extra firm tofu overnight before the tofu’s baked to perfection. Then, waste not want not! The marinade is turned into a thick sweet n’ spicy sauce that you’ll want on everything!

Click here to skip the step-by-step pictures and go to the printable recipe.

Gochugaru Tofu in a submarine sandwich

 

Why make this Sweet n’ Spicy Gochugaru Tofu?

This is the kind of tofu recipe that you’ll have on the regular rotation. It’s so delicious that people who don’t even like tofu LOVE! Because of the way it’s prepared, it’s super flavourful and meaty. This gochugaru tofu is

  • garlicky,
  • saucy,
  • a little sweet,
  • spicy from the Korean Red Pepper Flakes (gochugaru),
  • and aromatic with sesame oil and green onions!

You can make it ahead and store it in the fridge for up to one week. Then, you can have this high-protein addition for your power bowls, noodles, salad or in some epic sandwiches.

sweet and spicy gochugaru tofu in bowl

How to make the best Sweet n’ Spicy Gochugaru Tofu

While ideally you’d make this recipe over two days, the active time is super minimal. First, get the water out of the tofu so the flavour can really seep through all the nooks and crannies, mix the marinade and let it soak in overnight, then bake the tofu sometime in the next day or two. While the tofu is baking, you’ll make a thick sauce out of the leftover marinade so we don’t waste anything! Then you’ll have saucy delicious tofu for a few meals!

Gochugaru tofu marinade and sliced extra firm tofu

Prep + Marinate the Tofu

Choose firm or extra firm tofu for this recipe to make it meaty and substantial. If you have time, use a tofu press or press your tofu by wrapping it in clean, lint-free kitchen cloths and letting it rest under some weight (like a few hefty books) for 30 minutes or so. Afterwards, slice the tofu into 1/4″ slices and blot them with some paper towel to further remove remaining moisture.

Freezing tofu before pressing

Freezing and thawing tofu before you press it can help you remove even more water. However, it does make the texture more grainy.

If you don’t have time to let the tofu sit a while, you can just slice your extra firm tofu into 1/4″ slices (just over half a centimetre). Then blot the pieces firmly on both sides with a clean, lint-free kitchen towel. Repeat a several times until the towel comes away dry. A lot of water will get soaked up by the towel, which is why I really prefer to use reusable cloths. Otherwise, you’ll be using quite a few sheets of paper towel.

Mix the Marinade

Mix together orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, minced garlic and finely chopped scallion along with gochugaru (AKA Korean Red Pepper Flakes). 

By the way, you can find Gochugaru at Korean grocery stores or online. For this recipe, you want the kind that has been ground into a fine powder. And if you’re worried, don’t be. It’s not as spicy hot as it looks; it’s quite delicious with a little smokiness and a touch of sweetness.Fine Powder Gochugaru and other ingredients for Gochugaru Tofu

Substitutes

This is quite a forgiving recipe so you can use substitutes if you find yourself wanting to make this and just can’t make it to the store or wait for an online order.

In place of orange juice, you can use other bright fruit juices like pineapple or lime. Also, instead of brown sugar, feel free to substitute any sweetener you prefer. Then finally, for gochugaru (although I really recommend trying to get some as it’s unique), you can use sweet paprika with a little cayenne mixed in. You can adjust the amount of cayenne to your taste. And if you have it, add a dash of smoked paprika or chipotle powder.

To make this recipe gluten-free, make sure to get soy sauce that is gluten-free like gluten-free Tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos. Also, you can make this recipe soy-free by choosing a soy-free soy sauce alternative like coconut aminos.

chopped green onion floating in gochugaru tofu marinade

Marinade the Tofu

Marinate the tofu in a shallow pan or in a resealable bag and let it sit in the fridge overnight or longer; up to two days. Alternatively, you can freeze the tofu in the marinade for baking later. Freezing will change the texture of the tofu. It gets spongier and grainier; sometimes I prefer that texture, sometimes not. If you do choose to freeze it, make sure you thaw completely before moving on to the next step.

Tofu slices in sweet and spicy gochugaru marinade.

Bake your Sweet n’ Spicy Gochugaru Tofu!

Preheat your oven to 425°F. Then, let any excess marinade drip off the tofu slices before laying them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. But don’t toss the marinade! Set it aside and we’ll cook it up in a moment. 

Marinated tofu placed on parchment lined baking sheet

When your oven is fully preheated, you can bake the tofu for 15 minutes at 425°F (215°C) on each side. As it bakes, the tofu will get denser and the edges will char a little.

Turn your gochugaru tofu marinade into sauce!

Just transfer the leftover marinade to a sauce pan let it come to a simmer over high heat. When it’s bubbling, stir in cornstarch slurry and turn the heat to low. The sauce should thicken very fast so remove it from the heat as soon as it does.

Thick gochugaru sauce cooking

Enjoy your Sweet n’ Spicy Gochugaru Tofu!

When the tofu is finished baking, you can use it with the sauce right away. Or store it in a container with the sauce layered between each piece of tofu. Then you can use in meals over the next week. What will you do with your Sweet n’ Spicy Gochugaru Tofu?

Thanks so much for reading! I really hope you try this recipe. If you do, please leave a review letting me know how it went. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer quick as I can. Cheers!

Printable recipe for Sweet n’ Spicy Gochugaru Tofu

Yield: 4 servings

Sweet and Spicy Gochugaru Tofu

Sweet and Spicy Gochugaru Tofu

This recipe makes a super flavourful protein that's perfect in sandwiches, on top of rice, noodles and salads. The super easy marinade made with Korean Red Pepper Flakes (aka gochugaru) soaks into extra firm tofu overnight before the tofu's baked to perfection. Then the marinade is turned into a thick sweet n' spicy sauce that you'll want on everything!

Start this recipe a day before baking so the marinade has time to transform bland tofu into flavourful dense protein.

Marinating Time 8 hours
Bake Time 30 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12oz extra firm tofu (350g)
  • Marinade
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons light soy sauce (see notes for alternatives)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed (about 1 heaping Tablespoon)
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

Thickener

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Instructions

Prep tofu

  1. Cut tofu into 1/4" slices. Remove excess water by blotting each piece of tofu with a clean lint-free kitchen towel or paper towel several times. Press firmly but gently to squeeze out the water without breaking the tofu. Alternatively, use a tofu press first for even better results.
  2. Whisk the marinade ingredients together. Cover the tofu with the marinade in a shallow pan or in a resealable plastic bag. Let marinate in the fridge overnight or up to two days.

Bake the tofu and prepare the sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Remove the tofu from the marinade and spread the pieces out on to a parchment lined baking sheet. Reserve the marinade for the sauce. Bake the tofu in your prehated oven for 15 minutes. Flip the pieces and bake for an additional 15 minutes. The tofu will get firmer and the edges may be charred a bit.
  2. While the tofu is baking, prepare the sauce. Transfer the marinade to a sauce pan. Combine the cornstarch and water, mixing well so the starch is well suspended in the water. Add to the sauce pan and cook over high heat until it boils. Then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens. It should only take a minute. The sauce will thicken even further when it cools.

Store the tofu

  1. When the tofu is done, transfer the pieces to a heat-safe bowl but layer some sauce in between each piece. It can be used immediately or stored in the fridge for up to one week.

Notes

To make this recipe gluten-free, make sure to get soy sauce that is gluten-free like gluten-free Tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos. Also, you can make this recipe soy-free by choosing a soy-free soy sauce alternative like coconut aminos.

Meal Prep Tip! While this recipe is sized for one standard block of tofu (12oz/ 350g) which will fit on one large baking sheet, you can double the recipe. Just extend the baking time 10-15 minutes when baking 2 sheets at a time and make sure to rotate the pans.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 335Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1799mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 21gProtein: 12g

Nutritional Information automatically calculated by a plugin and may not be correct.

Did you make this recipe?

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Showing 2 comments
  • BlueKarma
    Reply

    Is it feasible to substitute gochujang paste for the gochugaru in this recipe?
    Thanks!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Not exactly. Gochujang is typically quite salty and adds more flavour than the gochugaru. Trying to sub the two would be like using barbeque sauce instead of using paprika in a recipe. You could try making the marinade without any soy sauce and add gochujang a little at a time, stirring in, then tasting to get an approximation. Hope that helps.
      Cheers,
      Mary

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