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What Are the Different Types of Korean Tofu Dishes?

Janis Adams
Janis Adams

Tofu is a popular addition to many Korean meals. Korean tofu is often served as a main dish; however, it can also be part of a side dish. Tofu is an ingredient that works well with nearly any Korean dish, as it has little flavoring of its own and so lends itself to any combination of spices or sauces.

Often served with one of many different types of dipping sauces, steamed tofu is simple and quick to make. This Korean tofu dish has added flavor because the sauces are steamed into it. Steamed for approximately ten minutes, the tofu is then served piping hot with noodles, rice, or over a bed of vegetables. Steamed tofu is also often presented along with fish.

A plate of tofu.
A plate of tofu.

Fried Korean tofu is very common and popular too. The tofu is pan fried over medium to high heat until it is browned and much of the water has been removed from it. A sauce is then added. Often, vegetables will be cooked with the fried tofu or served along with it. Fried Korean tofu is frequently served with chopped green onion sprinkled over it. This not only adds a splash of color but contributes to the flavor of the dish.

As well as being served as a main dish, pan fried tofu is also served as a side dish. There is a side dish made with soy sauce, sesame oil, roasted sesame seeds, with pepper flakes added to it for some kick, called dubu buchim yangnyum jang. Served with a sauce made of corn syrup, soy sauce, and black sesame seeds, dubu ganjang jorim is a traditional side dish served hot.

A common cold side dish is Korean tofu salad. The tofu is diced in small, bite sized chunks then tossed in a dressing which is very often spicy. Many times, the tofu will be left overnight to marinate in the dressing, allowing it to absorb the dressing and deepen its flavor.

Tofu is often used in soups and stews. A popular Korean tofu stew is soon tubu jjigae. This is a very spicy and well recognized dish in Korean cuisine. The tofu is simmered in a simple broth and then kimchi and clams are added. Served steaming hot, this stew is poured over rice. A popular addition to this dish is a cracked egg, which is allowed to poach in the hot stew.

For the vegetarian, any traditional Korean meat dish can have tofu substituted in its recipe in place of the meat. The conversion is a simple one. Whatever quantity of meat the dish requires, tofu is used in its place.

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Discussion Comments


@SarahGen-- I love tofu too, I just need to experiment more with it! And Korean cuisine definitely has lots of options when it comes to tofu.

My recipe calls for a spicy chili sauce. The recipe also calls for radish, onion and shrimp. But you could easily change up these ingredients as you see fit. The shrimp could be left out and other vegetables could be added.

The sauce seems to be the star ingredient though and it's made with a combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce, minced garlic, chili and sesame oil. This is what gives the tofu and radish most of the flavor. Although if you choose to use shrimp, that will add a lot of flavor too.


@donasmrs-- I love Korean tofu soup but braised tofu sounds delicious too. I actually love tofu in all shapes and forms -- boiled, braised, grille or fried. It's a great food and not at all brand with the right ingredients and sauces.

What type of sauce does your recipe call for, for the braised tofu? Is it sweet or spicy or both?


Braized tofu seems to be the most popular Korean tofu dish. I have come across the recipe in several cookbooks and I always think about how delicious it looks and then forget to make it later. But I think I'm definitely going to try it this week. I'm getting bored of eating bland tofu in soup.

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    • A plate of tofu.
      By: Norman Chan
      A plate of tofu.