Crispy Korean Tofu Bowl (vegan)

Inspired by Joey’s Crispy Tofu Bowl! Crispy tofu in a sweet and spicy glaze with quick pickled veg! Read the entry for tips and tricks. 🙂 4 servings.

Tofu:

  • 350 grams extra firm tofu, cubed (I like small cubes)
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil, for cooking

Sweet and spicy Gochujang glaze:

  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated (or super finely minced)
  • 2 tbsp. grated ginger (freeze it first to make it easier to grate!)
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup (or honey for non vegan)
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • Pepper, to taste (no salt is needed because of the soy sauce, but add if you like!)
  • 1/2 cup Gochujang sauce

Quick Pickled Veggies:

  • 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Chili flakes, to taste

For Garnish (optional):

  • Green onion, sliced
  • Alfalfa or Edamame
  • Carrots, shaved with a veggie peeler
  • Lime wedge
  • 2 cups brown rice, to serve

Start by making the pickled veg. Combine all the pickled veggie ingredients in a bowl or jar. Cover and let sit in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the dish. Veggies will last 4 days in the fridge.

Next, turn your rice on to cook.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat up sesame oil over medium heat in a non stick pan. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for around 2 minutes until it’s super fragrant (the best part!!). Add the maple syrup, pepper, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and Gochujang sauce and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and simmer for around 5 minutes until the sauce is thick and glaze like. Pour sauce into a bowl and wipe pan out to use for your tofu!

While the rice is cooking and the sauce is hanging out, make the tofu. Heat up enough olive oil to cover the bottom of your pan over medium-high heat until the oil is hot! In a bowl mix the cornstarch, garlic powder, and salt & pepper. Add your cubes of tofu and toss until all the tofu is coated. Shake excess cornstarch off the tofu (I used a mesh sieve) and add to the hot oil. Leave the tofu for 2-3 minutes to crisp up the first side before you start to turn them. Once the bottom side has crisped up, turn the tofu until all the sides are crispy and brown.

Once the tofu is crispy, add your Gochujang sauce back into the pan and toss with the crispy tofu. It’s ready to eat!

In your bowl put down a bed of brown rice, then your tofu and quick pickled veggies. Top with additional garnishes and serve.

*Make sure you only cook however much tofu you’re planning on serving, because crispy tofu (especially once it’s tossed in the glaze) does not reheat well!

*You can make the glaze and the veggies ahead of time, and then just crisp up however much tofu you want to eat throughout the week. I cooked one serving of tofu, and then tossed it with one serving of the glaze. Save the rest of the glaze, uncooked tofu, and veggies for another night. It will make for quick dinner!

Enjoy!

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Joey’s has this super amazing crispy tofu bowl that I love so much. I’ve had it twice the last few weeks. After I eat it, I start to crave it for a few days afterwards. It has super crispy little cubes of tofu in this sweet and spicy Korean glaze with lots of veggies on brown rice. It’s delicious. In addition to being delicious, it’s also $22, which is a little steep for lunch if you’re going there all the time. So I thought hey, I bet I can make something super similar at home! Joey’s Crispy Tofu Bowl “inspired” if you will!

While this isn’t an exact copy cat of the Joey’s bowl, it’s pretty darn close. The Joey’s bowl doesn’t have pickled veggies, but has veggies in a miso dressing, including avocado and tomatoes, but I love quick pickled veg so I swapped for my fav! The sauce turned out surprisingly similar though (after some playing around)! And let’s be honest, the best part of the bowl is the sticky, crispy tofu and sauce. So I think I nailed the most important part.

I’ve never cooked with Gochujang before, but it’s a Korean fermented red chili paste and it’s so good! It’s spicy and earthy and just a bit sweet. Perfection. It’s quite the word right? Go-chu-jang. Yea, I can’t pronounce it right. I asked 3 people about it at TNT the other day to make sure I was purchasing the right paste, and the first 2 had no idea what I was talking about so I feel like I’m the problem, so thank goodness this isn’t a video blog! I haven’t seen it at regular grocery stores, but it’s readily available at Asian supermarkets.

While the Joey’s menu doesn’t outright say it’s a Gochujang glaze, I knew it was a super common ingredient in Korean cooking, so I took a shot in the dark and assumed it was the main ingredient and my hunch was correct! I’m excited to start cooking with it more. If you haven’t, then you should. I’m going to start putting it in everything.

This glaze is great. It’s spicy, it’s sweet, it’s thick and rich. Great balance! Perfect for tofu, chicken, shrimp, pork – basically it’s like a Korean bbq sauce so I think you can just put it on anything you like. It would even make a great dipping sauce! And it’s so good that you might just be dipping your finger in it anyways! Also your kitchen is going to smell AMAZING from the garlic and ginger and the paste so prepare your senses to be happy! If you like it spicier, feel free to add more Gochujang or some sriracha. Leftover glaze will keep in the fridge for a few days and can be reheated at whim. Perfect for make ahead! No need for sugary storebought sauces here!

As you may remember from previous tofu posts, cornstarch is my secret weapon to super crispy tofu (thanks uncle Gord!). You don’t even need a binder or a batter, just toss the tofu in cornstarch and spices, shake the excess off (I use a fine mesh sieve) and bam it’ll make a super crispy crust without having to deep fry! Which is great if you want to feel like a god/goddess of health. The crispy crust once it’s tossed in the glaze will stay pretty crispy (yipee!) but only coat and cook how much tofu you’ll need. It doesn’t reheat well. You’ll lose all the crispiness, and crispy is the only way to eat tofu. The recipe above is for a full block of tofu (4 servings). If you’re like me though, I cut off a bit of the tofu, coated it, cooked it and tossed it with how much sauce I wanted. You can put the leftover sauce in the fridge, and coat and cook the rest of the tofu fresh the next night for a quick meal! That’s what I’m doing! It’s like partial meal prep and it’s a great way to cook on busy nights. Get home -> pour some wine -> turn the rice on -> cook some tofu -> pour already made sauce on it to heat up. DONE.

The sauce is the slightest and deliciously bit sweet, so I think the pickled veg really compliment it well! They are tart and crisp and they make great leftovers to use on sandwiches or salads! You can also use whatever veggies you like or have on hand. Pickled cucumber and radish just happen to be my favourite.

The balance of the crispy tofu, sweet and spicy thick glaze and the pickled veggies makes a delicious and healthy vegan dinner. You can use whatever you like for the base, but I think that brown rice is the way to go! Again, goddess of healthing over here! Kidding kidding.

While I may never be able to create an exact copy cat of the bowl that I have often craved – I can at least now satisfy that craving with an equally delicious inspired dish! This bowl is:

  • Sweet and spicy;
  • Crispy and sticky;
  • Easy to make;
  • Vegan;
  • Healthy;
  • Components of it can be made ahead;
  • The perfect balance of crispy, sticky and crunchy;
  • Great way to play around with new flavours;
  • Versatile – switch the veggies up, switch the base up and make it as hot as you like!
  • The glaze is not only perfect for crispy tofu but can be used as a dipping sauce or glaze for meat and veggies;
  • Absolutely delicious!

One thought on “Crispy Korean Tofu Bowl (vegan)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s