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Korean Sweet and Crunchy Tofu – Dubu Gangjeong (Extra CRISPY & Addictive!)

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Some crunchy pan-fried tofu is coated with an incredibly sweet and tangy sticky glaze. Soft inside and crispy on the outside, this incredibly easy recipe makes the perfect appetizer for all sweet and spicy lovers!

crunchy pan fried tofu is coated with an incredible sweet and tangy sticky glaze. Soft inside and cripsy on the outside

If you’re into Korean food, you probably know of the popular sweet and spicy Korean fried chicken – dak gangjeong (닭강정)? Well, this recipe is very similar with the exception that chicken is substituted by tofu – PERFECT alternative for VEGETARIANS. The second difference is that there is no batter. The tofu is simply coated with cornstarch so that it can easily be pan-fried and get SUPER CRISPY!

“dubu” (두부) means tofu while gangjeong (강정) refers to some traditional Korean sweet rice puffs which are made by deep frying glutinous rice flour then coated with honey and covered with nuts, seeds, rice puff or nutty beans. Spicy Korean fried chicken or tofu are named this way given that it also uses this method consisting of deep frying and covering with a sweet glaze.

You can either enjoy this dish as an appetizer – my recipe will cater to 4-6 persons. But personally, I sometimes make it a dish per se and have it alongside some rice and other banchan (Korean side dishes).

Can I substitute cornstarch to make Dubu Gangjeong?

Since we are not deep frying tofu such as the chicken version, cornstarch allows forming an extra crunchy layer around the tofu. If you don’t really mind a non-crunchy version, you could also dip the tofu in regular flour instead. But bear in mind that the result won’t be extra crispy.

When pan frying the tofu, make sure to pan fry each side of it so all sides reach a light golden brown color.

How to make the dubu gangjeong sauce?

There are different versions of this dish, some will only use ketchup and gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) for a simpler version. But personally, I enjoy a sticky glaze which calls for Korean corn syrup or alternatively Korean rice syrup. The ketchup and gochujang will be diluted in it so you won’t get the impression that you are having a sauce almost entirely made of ketchup.

  • sugar – add some sugar to sweeten the sauce.
  • soy sauce – soy sauce brings a savory touch.
  • ketchup – ketchup is one of the main elements of the sauce, mixed together with gochujang, you will obtain some sort of spicy ketchup.
  • mulyeot | Korean corn syrup – I like using Korean corn syrup or rice syrup when making my sweet and spicy glaze. It provides you with this shiny and sticky glaze and adds a slight extra sweetness to the sauce.
  • gochujang | Korean red pepper paste – I like my tofu slightly spicy so I usually use 1.5 tbsp gochujang (for 2 tofu blocks) however you can easily spice it up or down.
  • water – water helps dilute all ingredients together and slightly liquefy the sauce.

How to prepare dubu gangjeong?

  1. Prepare the sauce by mixing all ingredients together.
  1. Use a paper towel to pat dry the tofu. Cut tofu in cubes of approx. 2.5cm / 1 inch.
  1. In a big container, place the cornstarch and tofu. Close the lid and shake the container upside down to coat all tofu cubes with cornstarch. Alternatively, coat tofu with cornstarch one by one.
  1. In a large pan, add a generous amount of cooking oil to coat the entire surface. On medium-high heat cook the tofu cubes on each side. Cooking time depends on your stove, tofu is ready once all sides are slightly golden brown.
  1. Remove tofu from the pan. If any excess oil is left in the pan, remove it with a paper towel.
  2. Pour the sauce into the pan. On medium-high heat, heat the sauce for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
  3. Once the sauce is thicker, turn off the heat. Add the fried tofu and stir until all tofu cubes are coated with sauce.
  1. Sprinkle sesame seeds, dried parsley and green onion to garnish (optional).

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crunchy pan fried tofu is coated with an incredible sweet and tangy sticky glaze. Soft inside and cripsy on the outside

Korean Sweet and Crunchy Tofu (Dubu Gangjeong)

Some crunchy pan-fried tofu is coated with an incredible sweet and tangy sticky glaze. Soft inside and crispy on the outside, this incredibly easy recipe makes the perfect appetizer for all sweet and spicy lovers!
5 from 9 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Korean
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories per serving: 403kcal
Author: Emma Choi

Ingredients

  • 2 blocks of firm tofu (Note 1) | 600g / 1.3 lb
  • 130 g cornstarch
  • cooking oil
  • sesame seeds (optional) | for garnish
  • dried parsley (optional) | for garnish
  • 1 green onion, chopped (optional) | for garnish

sauce:

  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 110 g ketchup
  • 85 g mulyeot | Korean corn syrup
  • 1.5 tbsp gochujang | Korean red pepper paste
  • 80 ml water

Instructions

  • Prepare the sauce by mixing all ingredients together.
  • Use a paper towel to pat dry the tofu. Cut tofu into cubes of approx. 2.5cm / 1 inch.
  • In a big container, place the cornstarch and tofu. Close the lid and shake the container upside down to coat all tofu cubes with cornstarch. Alternatively, coat tofu with cornstarch one by one.
  • In a large pan, add a generous amount of cooking oil to coat the entire surface. On medium-high heat cook the tofu cubes on each side. Cooking time depends on your stove, tofu is ready once all sides are slightly golden brown.
  • Remove tofu from the pan. If any excess oil is left in the pan, remove it with a paper towel.
  • Pour the sauce into the pan. On medium-high heat, heat the sauce for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened.
  • Once the sauce is thicker, turn off the heat. Add the fried tofu and stir until all tofu cubes are coated with sauce.
  • Sprinkle sesame seeds, dried parsley and green onion to garnish (optional).

Notes

  1. Tofu: use firm tofu only. Soft tofu is not convenient for this recipe.
  2. Korean red pepper paste: adjust its amount to decrease or increase the spiciness.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1 servingCalories: 403kcalCarbohydrates: 64gProtein: 19gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 786mgPotassium: 129mgFiber: 2gSugar: 27gVitamin A: 183IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 261mgIron: 3mg
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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for this recipe – I’ve made this once and can’t wait to make it again! The only thing I changed was the spice level (spicy food gives me heartburn, booooo). For those sensitive to spice, I suggest 1tsp of gochujang for the sauce. It sounds like too little, but in my experience a little goes a long way.

    1. Hi Rivka,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed my recipe. Indeed the good thing with spicy Korean meals is that you can easily adjust the spice level of making it at home 🙂