Korean Style Pan-seared tofu and the magic of gochujang.

September 23rd 2014

Folks feel pretty conflicted about tofu, they either love or hate it....there is no "meh" with soy curd. I digs it, although perhaps eating it raw has been more of an acquired taste, I could eat it once a day and be perfectly happy. Korean food is quite interesting to me as of late, and I think I am finally over my infatuation with Vietnamese food (it lasted three years), at least for a minute, as I have in no way, shape, or form even come close to really making it authentically. Off on a side tangent....anyhoo, so I ate at a cart a while back downtown that was some Asian street food fusion extravaganza of sorts, you know one of those "doin it all" types of schticks, I was leary at first, as I assumed with that many varieties of cuisine going on at the same time, something had to be being neglected. The line was long and by that point I was intrigued so I went for it, I got some "Korean Adventure Bento" it wasn't called that....but it should've been. It had kimchi fried rice, some sorta pork, and this style of tofu, topped with (you guessed it) MORE KIMCHI!!! Well I totally wanted to hate it, but I didn't, it was really good, except for the side of fluorescent and slightly, too warm seaweed salad...but hey nothing is perfect. I decided I would do my own version and found that it was missing something....after doing a bit o' research ala Google University, I found that I was in need a pepper paste by the name of "Gochujang" sounds like ninja warrior right?! I had to cruise to 82nd and go to one of the only Korean Markets in PDX to find it....there were several varieties and most came in a utility size of 2.2 lbs...haha...so I am going to be using this in everything for a while! Its awesome, imagine Sciracha with a bit of cushion for the pushin....sorry did I just make a sex pun with pepper paste...urm yep...I'm leaving it in...see who actually reads all my rantings...anyway I used a tsp of this stuff in the sauce for the tofu, and I think I found the best way to eat tofu EVER!!!
You will need:
serves two as an entree or 4 as an accoutrement:
1 block firm tofu, drained and pressed, cut into 16 pieces, I did this by cutting it in quarters the cutting each quarter in four.
2 Tbsp. canola oil
a few pinches of salt, I used gray sea salt, you can use your salt du jour
That's it for the tofu, sprinkle the salt on the tofu squares and let sit while you make the sauce:
1 tsp. Gochujang (you can use sciracha, more socially acceptable...but your sauce will have a bit less depth and voluptuousness)
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 green onion, sliced thin
3 tbsp. low sodium soy or tamari
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. sesame seeds, I used black ones, but use what you like or have on hand.
In a skillet or wok, heat oil over medium high heat, add tofu in one layer, let brown for 3-5 minutes depending on type of burner and pan used....leave them alone...then flip and brown the other side for 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towel, mix together sauce ingredients, place tofu and serving tray or over rice, or soba noodles, top with sauce, and relish in the tofu-y, peppery goodness!