Tofu is just as exciting as any bowl of vegan ribs to Joanne Lee Molinaro. That’s because the popular food blogger known as The Korean Vegan has never thought of tofu as bland or texturally boring, but instead as the life of the party.
Molinaro says that tofu was just another ingredient in many Korean dishes she grew up eating, including kimchi jjigae. “Tofu, for me, is something that I’ve been eating my whole life, so going plant-based was easier for me,” Molinaro says. “The number of times I’ve been asked, ‘Can somebody just explain what tofu is because I don’t really quite get it?’ I didn’t have to go through that transition, it was already something that was a staple of my diet.”
To Molinaro, the ease of making this dish is a big part of its appeal.
“I love recipes that are absolutely ‘stupid proof.’ You can call it ‘noobie proof’ or ‘I’m exhausted from work proof’ or ‘I barely know how to boil water proof,’ too,” she says, laughing. “We’ve all been there: For whatever reason, your brain is on autopilot, and therefore, the recipe better be damn near automated lest you burn your house to the ground.”
If you’re having friends over, this dish makes for a great evening, Molinaro says. Having the sauce for the dish ready in your fridge means that it’s the perfect no-notice dinner. The level of braising depends on your preference, from a quick braise to a long braise, to simply pouring the sauce over the top.
“This is one of those rare recipes that practically makes itself but looks and tastes like you slaved over it all day long. I keep it in my arsenal for quick meals and dinner parties alike—it never fails to satisfy.”
The Korean Vegan's DOOBOO JORIM (두부조림 • Braised Tofu)
- 1 (16-ounce) block medium-firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons Spicy Soy Sauce Dressing (find Molinaro’s own recipe in her debut cookbook) , plus more for serving
- ½ cup Vegetable Broth
- 1 onion, julienned
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 3 large or 4 small to medium mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Slice the block of tofu crosswise into ¹⁄³-inch-thick pieces (I usually end up with 8 to 9 pieces).
In a very large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, place the tofu in the pan in a single layer (you may have to cook in batches if your pan is not large enough) and cook the tofu until the bottom is browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Flip the tofu and repeat until both sides are evenly cooked.
Add the spicy soy dressing and vegetable broth to the pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to very low. Sprinkle the onion, carrot, and mushrooms over the tofu. Cover the pan and cook until most of the braising liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes, popping the lid open occasionally and spooning a little bit of the braising liquid over the top of the tofu and vegetables as they cook.
Garnish with the scallions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with additional dressing over the top or on the side.
From THE KOREAN VEGAN COOKBOOK: REFLECTIONS AND RECIPES FROM OMMA’S KITCHEN by Joanne Lee Molinaro, to be published on 10/12/2021 by Avery, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2021 Joanne Lee Molinaro