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.
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.
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