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Soy-braised tofu (Dubu jorim)

The history of tofu goes back more than 4,000 years. Soybeans were first discovered on the Manchurian peninsula in today's Korea. It is one of the earlier known cultivated crops in the world with rice and corn. Anthropologists studying skeletal remains have seen a basic improvement in impoverishment between remains found before soybeans and after they were cultivated. Today we are very aware of the nutritional benefits of soy beans, but their history shows the same pattern centuries ago. The beans travelled to Japan (3rd century) and China (2nd century) and became a mainstay of each region's cuisine.

Soybeans are eaten fresh, dried, as sprouted beans, made into tofu, tofu skins, fermented, and soy sauce, just to name a few. Each region developed formulas, techniques and distinctive flavours and dishes around this ingredient. Soybeans are core to Korean cuisine.

This dish uses soybeans in two forms, tofu and soy sauce. The tofu is slow braised with the flavoured soy sauce till the sauce is thickened and caramelized. The tofu turns chewy and salty from the pungency of the soy. The dish is deeply flavoured and the topping of scallions and sesame seeds adds nuances to the dish.

This wonderful cookbook on authentic Korean cuisine is one that I enjoy cooking from. It provides me with the perfect introduction to this complex and wonderful cuisine, from simple kimchis to stews and soups. I highly recommend this cookbook to those who want to discover and master this cuisine.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


18 oz. firm tofu

1/4 cup soy sauce

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ginger paste

1 tablespoon gochugaru chilli flakes

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon mirin

1 tablespoon oil

1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds, lightly toasted

A few pinched gochugaru chilli flakes

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Cut the tofu into large 1/2-inch slices. Set aside

Pour the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, gochugaru, sugar, mirin and oil into a shallow frying pan and mix well by swirling the pan around. Heat on low heat. Add the tofu slices to the pan and simmer gently for 2 minutes. Flip the tofu pieces and simmer for 5 minutes.

Flip the tofu one last time being very careful as it would be very soft at this point. Cook for an additional 5-6 minutes on very low heat till the soy sauce has thickened and is sticky. Take off the heat.

Serve by loading the tofu onto a shallow plate. Drizzle any remaining soy on top. Garnish with 1-2 drops of roasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, chilli flakes and scallions. Serve immediately.

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