Gochugaru Tofu Subs

The second of three Vegan Lunches That Will Make Your Friends Jealous, Gochugaru Tofu Subs are hearty and full of protein to get you through your day. Sweet and spicy sauce made with Korean Red Pepper Flakes (aka gochugaru) is used to marinate extra firm tofu before it’s baked to perfection. Then the same marinade is turned into a thick sesame spiked sauce. Add some vegan cheese, cucumbers, and slice red onion tucked into a toasted sub and you’ve got a most drool-worthy vegan lunch that is sure to turn heads! Click here if you just want to make the Sweet and Spicy Tofu (with extra sauce too).

Skip to the printable recipe.

Video Tutorial for Gochugaru Tofu Subs

More Vegan Lunches To Make Your Friends Jealous:

Make the Gochugaru Tofu

For really flavourful tofu, you’ll want to start this recipe a day ahead of baking. When making marinated baked tofu, one of the most important steps is to press the water out of the block. Slice your extra firm tofu into 1/4″ slices (just over half a centimeter). Then blot the pieces firmly on both sides with paper towel or a clean, lint-free kitchen towel. Repeat a few times until the towel comes away dry.blotting-tofu

Removing the water leaves room for the marinade to sink into the tofu.

Gochugaru Tofu 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).

Bowl of marinade ingredients with gochugaru floating on top

Simply whisk the marinade ingredients together.

Close up image of gochugaru marinade with lots of chopped scallion.

The chopped scallion pieces add flavour and texture to the finished tofu.

Gochugaru is made from dried Korean Red Peppers. The type I used in this recipe is in powder form. If you use a larger grind, you might need a larger volume than I’ve used.

sliced tofu and bowl of marinade with large vegetable knife

I don’t always use a giant vegetable knife but when I do, I feel pretty badass.

Marinate the tofu in a shallow pan or in a sealable 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; 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 marinating in round baking dish

This dish isn’t really big enough to fit all the tofu. It’s better to have the tofu in a single layer.

tofu marinating in plastic bag

Using a resealable plastic bag makes marinating easy. It is a pain to clean out afterwards but I always try to use plastic bags many times before they go in the recycling. The marinade in this batch was blended smooth. I do prefer the “chunky” version though.

Remove the tofu pieces from the marinade and lay them out on a parchment lined baking sheet. You could use a silicone baking mat instead of parchment if you have one. Reserve the marinade so we can turn it into sauce!Marinated tofu placed on parchment lined baking sheet

Bake the Tofu + Make Gochugaru Sauce

Bake for 15 minutes at 425°F (215°C) on each side. The tofu will get denser with baking and the edges may char a bit.

Meanwhile, transfer the marinade liquid to a sauce pan and cook over high heat. Stir in cornstarch slurry, let it come to a boil, then turn the heat to low. The cornstarch slurry will thicken the sauce in just a few minutes.Thick gochugaru sauce cooking

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 it to make packed lunches throughout the week.baked-gochugaru-tofu-with-sauce

Prep Ingredients for the Gochugaru Tofu Subs

To make things easier in the morning, I like having all the fillings pre-prepped, sitting in containers at the front of the fridge so they’re easy to get together.


I don’t like to pre-assemble these sandwiches as they can go soggy in the fridge. If you must though, spread some vegan cheese on both sides of the bread to act as a moisture barrier.open-vegan-gochugaru-tofu-sandwich-sub

I toasted my submarine bun with a little aquafaba mayo udner the broiler. This makes the inside and edges just a little crispy while the rest of the bread stays soft.


Then on goes slices of homemade aquafaba mozzarella cheese (or any vegan cheese Gary you like) and gochugaru tofu covered in sweet and spicy gochugaru sauce. Add some crunchy veggies like cucumber and red onion. Finish with a little extra sauce and toasted sesame seeds. Then roll up your sandwich in parchment paper and it’s ready to go in your vegan lunch bag. Enjoy!

In case you’re wondering since I kind of disappeared for a while there, here is what’s going on in my life at the moment.

Printable Recipe for Gochugaru Tofu Sub Sandwiches

Yield: 3 6-inch sub sandwiches

Gochugaru Tofu Subs

Gochugaru Tofu Subs

Toasted submarine sandwiches filled with sweet and spicy baked tofu, crunchy cucumbers, red onions and creamy vegan cheese are perfect for your vegan packed lunch. Gochugaru (Korean Hot Pepper Flakes) adds spice with a hint of smoke and a brilliant deep red color. 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


  • 1 12oz block of extra firm tofu (not silken)


  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)

Sauce Thickener

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Other ingredients

  • 3 x 6" submarine buns
  • vegan mayo mayo
  • vegan mozzarella cheese (or your choice of vegan cheese)
  • sliced red onions
  • slice cucumber
  • toasted sesame seeds


Marinate 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.
  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 preheated 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.

Assemble the sandwiches

  1. Spread some vegan mayonnaise on both halves of the bread and toast under the broiler until the edges are browned. If packing to go, let the bread cool before adding the fillings.
  2. Stack vegan cheese, gochugaru tofu, cucumbers and red onion slices on to the base. Finish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and extra gochugaru sauce if desired. Roll up the sandwich in parchment paper and secure with a rubber band. Your sandwich is ready to go! Enjoy!


*This amount of marinade makes 1/2 cup of sauce. This just coats all the tofu slices. For extra sauce, double the marinade and thickener ingredients.

Did you make this recipe?

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Showing 13 comments
  • jacob

    omg I want

    • Mary

      🙂 time to make!

  • Angie

    This looks amazing! Just wondering if there is an orange flavour to it from the orange juice? Or do the other flavours mask it?

    • Mary

      The orange juice adds a bit of tanginess and sweetness. The flavour is not very noticeable in the final product.

  • Nithya

    Your recipes are so good! Thanks for all your work!

    • Mary

      You’re welcome <3

  • Leo

    Mary!!! Miss you and your lovely videos so much,but I know…health must always come first! Hope you’re regaining your strength and you can annihilate your problems away (in vegan peace of course). When you’re back I’d love to see a list of what you consider to be some vegan staples, both from asian supermarkets or general stores! Come back soon!!xx

    • Mary

      Thanks, dearie! I will keep your suggestion in mind <3

  • svudvde

    Girl where you at? You got me thinking you dead af

    • Mary

      I’m alive! Will be back soon….ish 😉

  • Laura

    These turned out amazing! The vegan mayo is hands down better than anything store bought and the tofu was dense and satisfying. I didn’t have orange juice so I substituted canned pineapple juice. One of my non-vegan friends, who had never tried tofu, was very impressed!

    • Mary

      Pineapple juice sounds like a perfect swap! So happy you love this recipe too! <3

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