Tofu With Gochujang

As vegetarians and vegans we have been struggling to find ways to incorporate more tofu into our meals–the problem has been finding recipes that work for us. We are picky, want our food to be delicious, appealing, easy to prepare–not fussy–and finger-licking good. This recipe is for keeps!

The inspiration came from Sam Sifton’s wonderful recipe Tofu and Green Beans with Chili Crack. I did not have chili crack or black vinegar and did not want to bother ordering it in the middle of the Covid 19 pandemic. Would gochujang (Korean condiment/paste) work instead? I did not care for a couple of brands we had bought at a local Asian store that sold these pastes in huge tubs as well as smaller containers. Our local Whole Foods had another brand in little jars, Mother in Law’s, and the ingredients on the jar were acceptable. My older son loves the sauce so much that he just sits there with a spoon working his way through the bottle as he works on his laptop. It is like a spicy ketchup with layers of flavor to me. Perhaps a spicy ketchup will work and be more economical!

The sauce keeps well for at least two weeks in the fridge.

So working off Sam’s recipe, we tried variations of our own and have now settled on this. We do like our food to have a kick. Cold, spicy tofu with a salad on the side makes a perfectly satisfying low carb, gluten free, vegan lunch and takes no time to put together after a long morning at the pottery studio.

New recipes are like pottery–the mystery of not knowing how things will turn out, what the final result will be, and the happy surprise, the satisfaction when the end result is good. But it is always uncertain. And there is acceptance and comfort with uncertainty as well.

And in the summer heat, the oven was not going to be turned on.

We do like cold tofu with a peanut sauce I make as well as an amba and sambal olek sauce. I love all these sauces for dipping vegan gyoza (they are store bought frozen).

I also use this recipe for hot Asian eggplant, or broccoli, or asparagus that we pair with this tofu and rice for a main meal.

To bake it in the oven as the weather turns cold, do what Sam’s recipe says and add some grated garlic to the sauce: marinade the tofu slices for 15-20 minutes and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Lay the tofu slices flat on a large baking tray in one layer spooning the extra marinade evenly over the slices. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating the tray in the middle. Eat it hot! But leftovers chilled and eaten cold the next day are also finger-licking good! Just a note, the string beans did not work for me in Sam’s recipe as they became too dry and chewy. For me, cooking them on the stove top worked better but I am so grateful for Sam’s recipe.


1 block of firm or extra firm tofu 14 ounces drained well

1 minced whole scallion

1 tbsp minced fresh ginger

1/3 cup lightly packed of finely chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons chili paste (or to taste and can even be left out and we like Mother in Law’s brand or Sambal Olek)

3 1/2 teaspoons gochujang (we like the brand Mother in Law’s fermented chili sauce-marinade)

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tsp honey

1 tbsp thinly sliced sushi ginger (optional)

2 tablespoons white or black sesame seeds


  1. Cut tofu into slim 8 slices moving across the two longer sides. Chill while preparing the sauce. Thin slices increase the ratio of sauce-to-tofu and make it much tastier
  2. Mix everything together. Drizzle or spoon over the tofu slices. Serve with extra sushi ginger and extra sauce on the side.

Preparation time 5 minutes Serves 3 for a meal

This recipe was updated to eliminate Amba Sauce as it has been hard to get and Trader Joe’s has discontinued it. And the tofu tastes wonderful even with the update.

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