Let me introduce you to Dubu-gangjeong (두부강정), sweet, spicy, and crunchy tofu!
It’s part of Korean Buddhist temple cuisine. When I went to Korea to study their cooking techniques and dishes I tasted it many times. I had it in an upscale, expensive temple cuisine restaurant in Seoul and in Buddhist temple in the mountain, eating with the monks. No matter where I went it was always the most popular thing on the table!
Making this dish is so easy. It’s like making my super-popular sweet, sour, & spicy Korean fried chicken yangnyeom-tongdak recipe, except instead of chicken there is tofu, and with no garlic at all because it’s a forbidden ingredient in Korean temple cuisine (along with meat, onions, chives, and scallions).
This will be a great dish for any vegetarian but anyone who likes spicy fried chicken will love it, too! Enjoy the recipe! ~
- 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
- 14 ounces to 1 pound firm or medium firm tofu, cut into bite size pieces
- ¼ cup potato starch
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds (optional)
For seasoning sauce
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup rice syrup
- 3 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
Make seasoning sauce
- Combine all the seasoning sauce ingredients in a skillet. Heat over medium high heat, stirring for about 1 to 2 minutes until bubbling. Remove from the heat and set the skillet aside. We’ll reheat this just before serving.
Coat the tofu
- Cut the tofu into 1 x 1½ inch bite sized pieces. Pat dry with kitchen towel or paper towel.
- Gently put the tofu into a plastic bag and add the potato starch. Seal the bag and gently turn it over until the tofu is well and evenly coated with the starch.
- Remove each piece from the bag individually and transfer to a large plate or a cutting board lined with plastic wrap, leaving some space between the pieces.
Fry the tofu
- Heat the oil in a skillet for 5 minutes, until it reaches 330-340°F. Carefully add the tofu pieces one at a time to the hot oil. Turn the heat down to medium and let the tofu cook for about about 2 to 3 minutes, until the bottom turns light brown and the surface is a little crispy .
- Turn the tofu pieces with tongs or a slotted spoon—they should be firm enough to turn without breaking—and fry for another 2 to 3 minutes, occasionally turning so that all sides turn light brown and crispy. Remove from the skillet and set in a wire mesh strainer set over a bowl.
… and then time to double-fry!
- Reheat the oil for 1 minute over medium-high heat and fry all the tofu again for 3 to 4 minutes, rotating and turning them over with tongs or long wooden chopsticks, until all sides are golden brown and crunchy.
- Transfer the tofu to the strainer set over a bowl to drain the excess oil.
Handle pumpkin seeds
- If you use pumpkin seeds, put them into a slotted spoon and dip them into the hot oil to fry them for just 10 seconds or so. Transfer the seeds to a small bowl and turn off the heat.
Coat and serve
- Reheat the sauce in the skillet until bubbling. Add the fried tofu and gently mix all together until they are well coated.
- Transfer to a plate and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over top. Serve as a side dish for rice.