One of my first food memories is of my mom coming into the kitchen in the morning and getting her breakfast. She would open the fridge and take out a plastic container (most likely an old margarine tub) full of sliced tofu in a sweet and spicy soy sauce. While I ate a spoonful of cold cereal, she would use her chopsticks to make perfect bites of rice, kimchi, and dubu jorim.
Dubu jorim is sliced and seared tofu that has been simmered in a sweet and slightly spicy soy-based sauce. Lightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, it’s an easy-to-prepare side dish for breakfast, dinner, or a traditional Korean dosirak (packed lunch).
Ingredients for Dubu Jorim
Tofu is a non-meat protein made from soybeans. Its consistency can range from pudding-like silky tofu to the almost feta cheese-like texture of extra firm tofu. It has a very mild flavor and easily takes on the flavors of whatever it is cooked in.
This recipe uses firm tofu, which has a texture similar to meat but is not too dense to soak in the braising liquid. It’s also the most common variety you’ll find in traditional grocery stores.
Rice flour gives the tofu its crispy crust. You can also use cornstarch or regular all-purpose flour, or you can skip the dredging altogether if you prefer.
Gochugaru is a type of Korean chili flake with a fruity, sweet, smoky spice. The heat level varies by brand but is rarely considered overly hot. You can locate it in most Asian markets or online.
How to Make Braised Tofu Gluten-Free
If you are gluten intolerant, plain tofu is naturally gluten-free (flavored varieties may contain gluten). The rice flour used in dredging the tofu slices is gluten-free as well.
Most soy sauce brands contain at least a small amount of wheat, but you can make this dish completely gluten-free by using tamari in place of the soy sauce with excellent results.
Tips and Tricks for Dubu Jorim Success
Tofu commonly comes packaged in liquid. This keeps it fresh but can make frying difficult. To ensure a good sear on your tofu, remove it from the packaging and place individual slices between layers of paper towel. Gently press to remove excess moisture.
My mother always lightly coated her tofu slices in flour—a process known as “dredging”—before pan searing. It helped achieve a lightly crisp surface that held up even after the short braise. I adapted her method by using rice flour, which makes for an even crispier result, especially on the corners and edges of the tofu—my favorite parts!
The rice flour dredge helps thicken the final cooked sauce—just the way my mother liked it. If you like your tofu extra “saucy,” feel free to double the sauce ingredients.
Dubu Jorim is often included as one of the banchan (side dishes) that are served alongside a traditional Korean meal. It is delicious with hot rice, kimchi, and any number of vegetable side dishes.
Storage and Reheating
In the unlikely event you have any leftovers, they can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 to 4 days. There is no need to reheat, as dubu jorim is just as delicious served hot from the pan as it is at room temperature.
If you prefer to eat it warm, just add the seasoned tofu slices and sauce to a small pan with a couple of tablespoons of water and heat on low until no longer cold.
More Recipes Starring Tofu
Dubu Jorim (Korean Braised Tofu)
For the seared tofu
1 (15 to 18-ounce) package firm tofu
3 tablespoons rice flour
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, or as needed
For the sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 tablespoon gochugaru
1 tablespoon sugar
2 scallions, thinly sliced, divided
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
Prepare the tofu:
Remove tofu from the container and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices.
Place the slices in a single layer on a plate or pan lined with paper towels. Place another layer of paper towels on top and press lightly to remove excess liquid. Replace the damp paper towels with dry ones and set aside while you prepare the sauce.
Make the sauce:
In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, water, sesame oil, garlic, gochugaru, sugar, and half of the sliced scallions. Set aside.
Dredge and fry the tofu:
Place the rice flour in a shallow plate or bowl. Preheat a medium to large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is heated, add enough canola oil to coat the bottom.
Lightly dredge each piece of tofu on all sides in the rice flour. Shake off the excess.
Place the sliced tofu in the pan and sear until lightly golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Gently flip each piece over and sear on the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to sear your tofu in 2 batches. If so, add an extra tablespoon of oil to the pan before the second batch.
Add the sauce:
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Pour the sauce over the seared tofu. Carefully lift the sides of each piece of tofu to allow the sauce to go underneath. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
Gently flip each piece over and simmer until the sauce starts to bubble and thicken and the tofu is coated in the sauce, another 2 to 3 minutes. If at any time you feel you need more liquid, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water to the pan.
Plate and serve:
Remove from the heat. Arrange the braised tofu on a plate and pour any remaining sauce in the pot over the tofu. Top with the remaining sliced scallions and more sesame seeds.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 20g||26%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||13%|
|Total Carbohydrate 13g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||7%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 3mg||15%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|