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Lately I have been obsessing over South Korean cuisine. My interest began with the Korean series “Protect the Boss” by Boseureul Jikyeora. It is a quirky film about girl who wants to achieve her dream job in a corporate office. Problem is she is lacking the secretarial skills and a degree from a prestigious college.
What captivated my interested the most was a dinner scene at the Chairman’s house. The family members were picking up bits of food, with their chopsticks, from various bowls in the center of the table, and placing it on each others plates. The conversation was somewhat comical as they each loaded one another’s bowl with morsels they “just had to try”. There was so much excitement over the food with the belief that if they ate well they would have a happy healthy disposition. Moreover, it was the wisdom of the Grandmother who had insisted that the two feuding sides of the family join her for dinner once a week until they learned to tolerate one another. She counseled them saying, (English translation) “our friendships are built by this type of dinner.”
In that moment I was reminded that despite all the whining and frustration trying to make dinner and get everyone to the dinner table, there is a purpose. Thus, my interest was peaked to discover more about this far away place and the people who live there. I was curious what the dynamics of the family is like in South Korea.
The kids and I have enjoyed learning the language and the various customs of South Korean culture. They graciously accepted the Korean cuisine, thrilled to try anything placed in front of them, as long as they could use chop sticks.
I have not had fried tofu before; I mostly use tofu in soup. Yet, Korean tofu with spicy sauce is one of my favorite dishes by far. The sauce is very similar to a wasabi sauce in both flavor and heat. I reduce the red pepper to 1/2 teaspoon and it is still pretty spicy. For children you can eliminate the red pepper or greatly reduce the amount. I have even served the tofu with a small bowl of soy sauce for dipping.
1 half package Tofu (about 10 oz)
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/4 to 1 teaspoon Hot Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon honey
1 Green Onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Sesame Oil
Roasted Sesame Seeds (optional)
Slice the tofu into bite size pieces (¼ inch thick rectangles); about 10 pieces. Towel off each piece with a paper towel.
Heat a pan with 1 to 2 tbs of vegetable oil. Add the tofu and lower the heat. Cook over low heat about 5-7 minutes.
When the bottom of the tofu looks golden brown, turn it over and cook another 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked tofu to a serving plate.
Meanwhile make the sauce:
In a small bowl mix: minced garlic, green onion, hot pepper flakes, honey, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
To serve, spoon the sauce evenly over the tofu. Sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds just before serving. Serve with a side of steamed rice.
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