A Year to Learn Korean Cooking: Braised Tofu

Today, let’s learn about cooking Korean spicy braised tofu/dubu jorim 두부조림. This delicious braised tofu dish is a little bit sweet and savory. Although typically served as a banchan (side dish), or small side dish, it can be enjoyed as a main dish when paired with rice or noodles. In addition, it is a great addition for dosirak 도시락 (packed lunches). Let’s dig into this awesome dish.

About the South of Seoul ‘A Year to Learn Korean Cooking’ Series

If you are familiar with the series, skip ahead to learn more about braised tofu/dubu jorim. Many of us live in South Korea for only a year. Time flies past faster than we can imagine. At South of Seoul, we decided to create a simple series that will offer 2-4 dishes to learn each month so that when you leave South Korea you have a slew of new dishes you feel comfortable making anywhere.

This series is a collaboration with Kimchi Rednecks. In 2020, they created the first blog in this series Online Resources for Learning to Cook Korean Food. These two love to have adventures in the kitchen and share the results with their community. Be sure to follow KimchiRednecks on YouTube for other great videos about living life in South Korea.

About Braised Tofu (Dubu Jorim 두부조림)

Dubu jorim is a popular Korean side dish (banchan 반찬) that features braised tofu in a savory and slightly sweet soy sauce-based broth. This simple and flavorful dish highlights the natural taste and texture of tofu. The soy sauce broth (sauce) gives the tofu a rich umami flavor. With its easy preparation and delicious taste, dubu jorim has become a staple in Korean cuisine.

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For this braised tofu dish, you pan fry the tofu until it is a light golden brown color. This dish cooks very quickly and is able to be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days. Also, when you eat your leftovers, you can choose whether to serve them cold, hot, or at room temperature. Any way you choose, this dish is flavorful!

braised tofu

Choosing Tofu For Your Dubu Jorim

Since there are various tofus available on the market, the most important step for this dish is to choose the correct texture. Korean tofu typically comes in three different textures when sold by the block: firm (부침용), soft (찌개용), and silken (생식용). The difference in this tofus is how much water has been pressed from the blocks. For frying or braising tofu, you will want to get firm tofu (부침용). However, if you end up getting the soft tofu (찌개용), you will simply want to handle the tofu more carefully to keep it from breaking while you handle and cook the braised tofu dish.

Our First Experience with Braised Tofu (Dubu Jorim)

The first time I saw dubu jorim served, I took one look at it and decided it must be too spicy/hot for me to try it. Luckily, a friend who was with me recommended that I try it. I was surprised at how well the braised tofu had soaked in the flavors and how delicious it was. I knew that we would add this to our list of dishes to make at home and I am so glad we did.

braised tofu

Biggest Hurdle Making Dubu Jorim

One of the biggest hurdles in making this spicy braised tofu dish is working with the tofu. It is essential to make sure that the tofu remains firm and doesn’t break apart while cooking. Since tofu is so delicate and easily turns mushy when mishandled, this can be challenging.

It is recommended to work with firm or extra-firm tofu in order to prevent the tofu from breaking apart. You should make sure to handle it gently when cutting and cooking. Additionally, simmer the tofu in the broth just long enough to absorb the flavors without it becoming too soft.

Another challenge when making dubu jorim is balancing the flavors in the broth. The broth for this braised tofu dish is typically made with soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and other seasonings. Therefore, it is key to adjust the amounts of each ingredient to achieve the desired taste. If you add too much sugar, the dish will be overly sweet. Whereas, if you add too much soy sauce, the result will be too salty.

Overall, making dubu jorim requires a delicate touch and carefully balanced flavors. However, with a little practice, it can be a delicious and satisfying dish to make at home.

Three Braised Tofu Videos to Watch

Are you ready to tackle the challenge of making braised tofu/dubu jorim at home? Here are three videos to inspire you to make your own! We like to include three perspectives on any dish that we present 1) a Korean chef making the dish in Korea, 2) a Korean chef making the dish in a foreign country (provides options for substitutions), and 3) foreign residents making the dish while living in South Korea. These three perspectives provide a broader look at cooking the dish so that you can understand how to adopt it into your lifestyle.

Korean Making Braised Tofu/Dubu Jorim

Korean American Making Braised Tofu/Dubu Jorim

Americans in Korea Making Braised Tofu/Dubu Jorim

Let Us Know How It Turned Out

When you make dubu jorim at home, be sure to leave a comment on this blog or our video. We would love to hear how your dish turned out. Also, we love to hear about your adventures and experiences cooking these dishes at home.

Follow KimchiRednecks

If you are looking for other dishes (Korean or otherwise) or reviews of local restaurants, be sure to check out the KimchiRednecks channel. We also share a little behind the scenes in or our social media accounts on Facebook or Instagram.

Join Pyeongtaek Food & Fun

If you live in the Pyeongtaek area, share your cooking experience with us in the Pyeongtaek Food & Fun Facebook group. 

Pyeongtaek Food and Fun Facebook Group

Try More Recipies in Our Year to Learn Korean Cooking Series

We have many more Korean recipes that will make your life in Korea more delicious.