Spicy and sweet, this crispy Korean tofu is a savory treat for the tastebuds.
On my walk home one night as I was living Seoul, I stopped by my favorite place for a late night after-drink snack, dakgangjeong, or fried chicken bites tossed in a sauce. Hong Cup is literally a hole in the wall. There is a counter facing the street, or you can go inside and sit in a tiny wooden loft or at one of the two tables with rickety stools. $2 beers and freshly fried and sauced chicken are served in varying sizes of paper cups.
The young woman who owns that stand had become my friend and she always chatted with me as she loaded my cup up with crispy chicken, tater tots and fried rice cakes. This combination is what made this place unique. She also has the most delicious sauces that go on the chicken. There is the original spicy and sweet sauce, made fiery red with gochujang (Korean chili paste) or the milder soy garlic sauce. You can also choose from a sweet barbecue or mustard sauce.
At the time I taught at a language institute for adults, and sometimes I wouldn’t get off work until 10pm if I taught a late class. I’d walk through Hongdae, soaking in the neon lights and the energy of the crowded streets and make a stop by Hong Cup. The cup was always served with a toothpick as your utensil so that you could spear the pieces and eat them as you walked. The chicken never made it home with me. I was always finished with my cup within 10 minutes. This recipe ins inspired by those flavorful bites.
- 1 package of extra firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes and dried with paper towels
- 1 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon of gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- ⅛-1/4 teaspoon of Korean chili powder
- 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the tofu cubes in a bowl with the cornstarch until all pieces are evenly coated.
- Put cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat and cook for 20 minutes, flip the cubes then cook for 20 more minutes until lightly golden brown and crispy.
- When there are a few minutes left with the tofu, mix all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sauce bubbles and thickens.
- Toss the tofu in the sauce and serve topped with sesame seeds.