Korean Spicy Tofu

Food for the soul: Crispy fried tofu coated with an amazing Korean-style sweet & spicy sticky sauce. Makes a perfect weeknight dinner along with freshly steamed rice.

Besides Taiwanese cuisine, Korean cuisine is a type of cuisine I could eat everyday and not get tired of. There’s something about that perfect balance of sweet, savory, and sour that just keeps me wanting more.

Freezing and thawing tofu is undoubtedly my favorite tofu technique. What happens when you freeze the tofu is that the liquid inside the tofu crystallizes and forms large clumps. And when you thaw the tofu, the ice crystals will melt but the space they have taken up will remain there, creating many cracks and tears on the tofu. Doing this process two times simply magnifies its effect — what you’ll end up with is a texture very similar to chicken.

Korean Spicy Tofu

4 from 4 votes
Recipe by George L. Course: LunchCuisine: KoreanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



Food for the soul: Crispy fried tofu coated with an amazing Korean-style sweet & spicy sticky sauce. Makes a perfect weeknight dinner along with freshly steamed rice.


  • 1 block medium -firm tofu, twice frozen-and-thawed

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

  • 1 scallion, segmented

  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, for garnish

  • vegetable oil, for frying

  • Spicy Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced

  • 1/3 cup ketchup

  • 1/3 cup mirin

  • 1.5 tablespoons sriracha

  • 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce

  • 1.5 teaspoons rice vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1.5 tablespoons gochujang, or Korean chili paste

  • 1 pinch gochugaru, or Korean chili flakes


  • Prepare the Tofu. For this recipe, we’re working with twice frozen and thawed tofu. As the name suggests, the tofu has been frozen, thawed, frozen again, and completely thawed again. Using a heavy object or a tofu press, press the tofu down for at least 15 minutes, pressing out as much liquid as possible. At the end of the pressing, the height of the tofu should have halved. Using your fingers, pull away chunks of the tofu. You should get chunks that aren’t completely even and look naturally pulled. Carefully place the tofu pieces in a ziplock bag along with cornstarch. Shake the bag to evenly coat all the tofu pieces.
  • Fry the Tofu. In a pan, heat up a generous amount of vegetable oil on medium-high heat (think about shallow-frying). Once the oil is hot, fry the tofu pieces until each side becomes golden-brown and crispy. Remove from the oil and drain on a kitchen towel to remove excess grease. Set aside.
  • Make the Sauce. In the same pan (there should still be a little bit of oil), fry ginger and garlic on medium heat until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add in all the remaining sauce ingredients, combine well, and bring to a boil. Once the sauce reaches your desired consistency (for me, this usually takes no reduction at all), taste for seasoning, and remove off the heat.
  • To Finish. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tofu back into the sauce. Add the scallion segments as well. Stir to coat evenly. Finish with a sprinkle of white sesame seeds. Enjoy warm with rice.


  • Baking Option. The tofu in this dish can be baked as well, for those wish to lower oil intake. Instructions can be found in my Sweet & Sour Lychee “Pork” recipe.

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A Baked Version:

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18 days ago

Do you thaw it in the fridge or on the counter?