Jump to content

Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the society.


Korean sauce for tofu

  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 crinoidgirl

  • participating member
  • 186 posts
  • Location:Redford (Detroit), MI

Posted 01 November 2010 - 06:10 PM

I have a buddy who would like to reproduce a sauce he's had before. Specifically, it was over tofu, and Korean. He describes it as sweet, and possibly with sesame oil. I'm sorry, I know my description is pretty sketchy, but can you give me (us) any ideas what it might be?

#2 nakji

  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,659 posts
  • Location:Shanghai

Posted 01 November 2010 - 09:05 PM

Was it spicy? Or was it soy based? Korean dishes don't tend to traditionally be sweetened much - where did he eat it? If it was at a Japanese/Korean place, it may involve mirin or sugar simmered with the soy.

Two dishes I'm thinking of: dubu kimchi: kimchi and pork with sauteed with sesame oil and served over fresh slices of firm tofu. But no one would describe it as sweet, I think.

The other one I'm not sure the name of, but might be what your friend is thinking of: finely chopped green onion mixed with an equal proportion of sesame seeds and Korean chili flakes, sprinkled over soft, fresh tofu, and topped with soy sauce and sesame oil. Again not sweet, but the addition of mirin or sugar to the soy would make it so.

#3 GordonCooks

  • participating member
  • 2,550 posts
  • Location:Rochester, NY

Posted 02 November 2010 - 06:09 AM

Sugar is used more often than not in Korean sauces and marinades although deftly. The most common marinade I've seen is soy based - mainly vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, red chili flake, scallion, and sugar.

#4 nakji

  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 3,659 posts
  • Location:Shanghai

Posted 02 November 2010 - 08:08 AM

Yeah, there's hardly ever so much sugar in there that you'd describe it as sweet - it's more there to balance or bring out flavours as part of the seasoning. I'm curious to find out what this dish is!

#5 SheenaGreena

  • participating member
  • 1,171 posts
  • Location:Baltimore/DC

Posted 02 November 2010 - 04:13 PM

Pretty sure it was soy sauce, scallions, red chile flakes, sesame seeds, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar.

#6 Soup

  • participating member
  • 613 posts

Posted 31 December 2010 - 02:40 PM

3 major types: Soy based, kochujang (pepper paste) based and kochu karu (pepper flakes)base. Soy is most likely.
Kochujang based sauce is used a lot for tofu braise. With fresh tofu, I've seen more soy based.

I'm not sure why but much of resturant korean food in the US seemed to be going toward sweet overtones. I see this a lot in BBQ and another dishes. Korean food should for most part not be overly sweet. I wish the trend would reverse.

#7 jfrater

  • participating member
  • 112 posts
  • Location:Wellington, NZ

Posted 13 March 2011 - 06:18 PM

Dubu buchim yangnyumjang by the sounds of it: http://www.maangchi....ofu-side-dishes
Funny, Cool, Scary, Weird Top 10 Lists

#8 jkim

  • participating member
  • 101 posts

Posted 30 August 2011 - 07:41 PM

I'm not sure why but much of resturant korean food in the US seemed to be going toward sweet overtones. I see this a lot in BBQ and another dishes. Korean food should for most part not be overly sweet. I wish the trend would reverse.

Nope... Korean food tends to be very sweet, with liberal use of sugar (or more often, yori dang).

Some common examples are:
- Kimchi (lots of sugar in my favourite type: gut jjo ri)
- Bul go gi
- Kal bi jjim
- Hong eo whe

I think you may be mistaken that Korean food is not sweet based on your experiences at Korean BBQs, where they only serve ssamjang and girumjang?

But in Korea, Korean BBQs are also sweet, because they use *american mustard + light soy mix; and kong ga ru or mi sut ga ru* for the dipping sauce for wine sam gyup ssal at many popular samgyupsal places.

i.e. get a red oak lettuce leaf, then put a piece of perilla leaf in it, then put some ssamjang and fresh garlic in it, then a piece of mu ssam. Dip the pork into the mustard mix, then dust liberally with the kong garu so it becomes dry. Then put into the prepared lettuce, put some pajori (also sweet) in, wrap and enjoy. Already there are 4 sweet ingredients in the 1 wrap: mustard, misutgaru/konggaru, mussam, and pajori.

Edited by jkim, 30 August 2011 - 07:42 PM.

#9 Soup

  • participating member
  • 613 posts

Posted 21 February 2012 - 11:27 AM

Let's just say you and I have a different view on korean food.

Been eating and cooking korean food for many decades both in korea and in US and I can honestly say in my experience the trend towards overly sweet seasoning is a relatively new movement. Last 10 years or so.

Remember sugar use to be a fairly scarce commoditity in korea even in the mid 70's. Much of "sweet" snacks were never that sweet by western standards. If you look at the traditional method for making ShikHae, the fermentation of malt doesn't produce overly sweet product. Yut and Yackgua which are some of the sweetest (non fruit) items are not that sweet.

I eat at many korean places in around the US and I run into places where sugar is too liberally used for korean cooking. It hides poor flavor and bad cooking and in my opinion lessen a great dish.


#10 Joon

  • participating member
  • 94 posts

Posted 07 March 2012 - 03:14 PM

I'll second you on this Soup - Korean food is probably the least sweet of all east Asian cuisine, at least in my experience. Yes, a few dishes, specifically the BBQ meats lean toward the sweet side, but for most other dishes there's usually very little sweetness. I too have noticed that some restaurants are switching to sweeter flavors these days.

#11 Will

  • participating member
  • 460 posts

Posted 07 March 2012 - 06:54 PM

I think people may be taking the adjective a bit too literally. One person's idea of "sweet" may be different, so the OP's friend may have just meant that the flavor had some sweetness, not that the dish was especially sweet. I find gochujang-based sauces even without additional sugar to be fairly mild and sweet tasting, though obviously not sweet like a dessert or something.