Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce
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When I read Ruth Reichl’s description of this warm tofu with spicy dipping sauce — “a beautiful dish, which takes ten minutes, costs very little, and is so utterly delicious” — in this month’s Gourmet, I couldn’t not make it.
And I’m so happy I did. This is by far the easiest — my friends who hate to cook are you listening? — method of preparing tofu I have encountered:
First, you simmer tofu in water — yes, water — then you make a simple sauce, a mix of soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, chile flakes, and scallions; then you pour this sauce over the tofu.
It is as delicious as Ruth promises. Truly. Please try it. I think you will be pleased.
Here’s the play-by-play: Gather your sauce ingredients: soy sauce, sesame oil, chile flakes, scallions, garlic (if you wish), sugar, and sesame seeds.
Toast the sesame seeds:
Place a block of firm tofu in a skillet and cover with water. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to keep warm.
Often I’ll cut the block in half before simmering it.
After about 20 minutes, place each tofu half into a bowl.
And spoon the sauce over the top.
Serve with vegetables on the side. I love this spicy broiled broccoli but steamed edamame (see below) is a great, simple option.
Way back in the day, I worked at a catering company in Philadelphia. At nearly every party I worked, ‘peking duck rolls’ served straight from a bamboo steamer were passed with a soy dipping sauce … everyone raved.
Of course I went to Chinatown immediately following the first party I worked to purchase one of these three-tiered bamboo steamers. And while it is not a gadget I use often, I find it comes in handy here and there, and it’s kind of fun, too.
I love using it for edamame, which steam in under five minutes. If you have one, place it right into a wok filled with just enough water to reach below the first tier. Bring the water to a boil and then place edamame pods into one of the tiers. Cover and steam until done. Sprinkle with a nice sea salt according to taste.
Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 2
Adapted from Gourmet
The original recipe calls for both toasting and crushing the sesame seeds. For simplicity, I often just toast the seeds. If you want to also crush the sesame seeds, you can mince them with some of the garlic and the scallions, which helps keep the seeds from flying off the cutting board.
The sauce can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before using. Consider doubling it if you want to serve it with rice.
Regarding Korean hot red pepper flakes: you can use crushed red pepper flakes in their place or a chili paste such as Sriracha or Sambal Oelek.
The tofu can be kept warm for as long as 4 hours.
As noted in the post, I love the tofu with this broiled broccoli.
- 1 (14- to 18-oz) package firm tofu
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- ¼ cup chopped scallion, or about 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted, see notes above
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium or Tamari if you are sensitive to salt
- 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse Korean hot red-pepper flakes, see notes above
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Place the tofu in a shallow sauce pan and cover with cold water. Noe: I like to cut the block of tofu in half. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then keep warm, covered, over very low heat for at least 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mince and mash the garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Stir together with the remaining ingredients.
- Just before serving, carefully lift the tofu from the saucepan with a large spatula and drain on a towel (or simply use a slotted spatula and skip the drying step). Transfer the block or blocks of tofu to a shallow bowl or bowls. Spoon the sauce over the tofu and serve warm.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Tofu
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Asian
Keywords: warm, tofu, spicy, dipping, sauce
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
81 Comments on “Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce”
I actually really like tofu, so this is right up my alley! Oh, and I ordered my rebel last weekend, now I’m very impatiently awaiting its arrival 🙂
I would so LOVE to be able to feed my family tofu…maybe this will work. Thanks for stopping by, and please do come again.
MMMMMMM…Alexandra!! I was also like you before I met tofu!!! But I can not convince my husband yet!!! Your dish looks awesome!!! MMMMMM……Ps. Thanks for this new information of Soju!!!!
What a tasty looking tofu dish! Really delightful! I love your pictures and presentation!
hmmm, i’m so glad you commented b/c google reader hadn’t updated you 🙂 i’m intrigued by this boiling tofu… i’ve been inclined just to roast it. but it doesn’t fill me up 🙁 the edamame would solve that problem, but that’s alot of soy! anywho, i’ll have to give this ashot 🙂
I am loving this meal. I have tofu and edamame, I think I will be making this very soon! Thanks! Have a great weekend!
I’m one of those people that is scared of tofu. I can’t say that I don’t like it because I’ve never really had it. I’m going to give it a shot! I have all the ingredients besides the tofu so I might as well give it a go. Maybe this recipe will convert me to a tofu lover. We’ll see. Your pictures are glorious!
I don’t know what you’re talking about. I LOVE tofu when cooked properly (with a sweet-hot sauce of course) and it makes a fantastic dinner 🙂 So yeah, that looks PERfect! I’ll have something else in place of the soju though 😛
Well, Alexandra, you started this post off correctly. I was turning my nose up, because I’ve tried tofu several times and can’t get to like it. The sauce looks good though, and based on your recommendation, I may just try it. My hubby, though, is another story.
What a feast indeed!
Noo….I’m not turning my nose! What gorgeous photos. I grew up on tofu so I never went through the “weird!gross!” phase that a lot of people do 🙂
That looks wonderful! I do like tofu.
This is making me want asian tofu for dinner!
I have no objection to tofu for dinner. I’ve never heard of cooking it in water before, but I am intrigued. It looks delicious in the photos.
The grapefruit and soju drink sounds amazing–right up my alley.
OMG it’s beautiful!
I actually really enjoy tofu, and this looks yummy!
Great dish Ali. I’ve definitely warmed up to tofu since becoming addicted to Thai food.
Also… I have to make it down to Cafe Mimosa. The Kobe beef burger photo just stopped me in my tracks. It’s about a 15 minute drive from my work in Irvine, so at some point I’ll take a little longer lunch and try to get down there to try his lovely food. Mimosa has great reviews too! No surprise to you, I’m sure.
I’ve always liked tofu. I think I would like it even more with this delicious sauce!
Your photography is amazing! That must be said for sure. And this sauce sounds great, especially on tofu. Must really be flavorful if you don’t even have to marinate the tofu!
Glad to see the new site! I don’t mind tofu dishes, but have done very little cooking with it at home. This looks like the perfect first dish to take a stab at!
Gorgeous photos! And this feast looks incredible. I’ve bookmarked it and am hoping to make it soon.
Growing up, i have had this all my life….it is yummy….but never had the Soju grapefruit cocktail. Your blog ia awesome….now that I know you drink Soju….you rock even more. Having grown up in Philly….this makes me relate to the dishes even more.
What are th proportions of the ingredients for the spicy garlic sauce? I cannot seem to find them on this page.
Hey Jim —
They are right there in the recipe under “Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce.” But here you go in case it’s not showing up for whatever reason:
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
¼ cup chopped scallion
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted and crushed with side of a heavy knife (I minced the seeds with some garlic and scallions, which helped keep the seeds from flying off the cutting board.)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon coarse Korean hot red-pepper flakes (crushed red pepper flakes)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Thank you for this simply wonderful meal – I love Tofu and this is right up my alley! Cheers
I adore tofu, always have from first trying it. It is not something I would ever turn my nose on. The recipe looks so very lovely and inviting. It has been a long while since I had tofu. I think I had barbecued tofu when last I had it in Cambridge, MA.
I so missed the days of purchasing for myself and being true to my body. So very weak these days, essential nourishment is not readily available. There is eating and there is feasting. I don’t ever make sense, I am sorry to say.
Looks beautiful – it could be the recipe to get me over the line with tofu. I am tofu neutral – neither love it nor hate it. I’d like to love it! Thanks for the recipe.
Hi Alexandra — I saw this recipe on Gojee’s top three picks in my email this morning and have been anticipating it all day. First off I was planning on making it next weekend given my time constraints, but by about 5:00 pm I couldn’t resist any longer and hit the grocery store for ingredients. My belly is full now (full 14 oz tofu consumed — ditto for my wife)…. That was the best tofu recipe I’ve ever had! We have some sauce left over as I made a double batch and we’ll be simmering some more tofu over the next few days to finish up the remaining sauce….
Thanks so much for such a scrumptious recipe!!!
Johnny — I am so glad to hear this! I know, the sauce is so good, and I, too, find myself finding ways to fit more tofu into my weekly meal rotation just to finish up the sauce. Thanks so much for writing in! I love that this recipe has gotten me to make tofu a staple in my diet.
OMG! I just made this for dinner and loved it! It’s so quick and easy for a weeknight meal. This is definitely going in my regular rotation of meals. Thanks for sharing!
Melissa — So glad to hear this. I love this recipe, too. I know there are other tofu recipes out there, but this is seriously the only way I make it anymore.
By the way I love the rectangular plate. I want one exactly like this. Off course your photography and the recipe rock too but the plate is….gorgeous ! 🙂
Maria — I found it in Chinatown in Philadelphia for about $3. I love it, too. Of course my mom ruined my fun by sending me an article talking about the lead in paint in many Chinatown dishes, but, I use it even so. Hope you try the tofu. It’s one of my favorites.
Hey there! I originally found your recipe on pinterest and finally tried it tonight. My husband is a very picky tofu eater and we both loved it. I served it with bok choy and made mango brûlée for dessert. I will definitely be making this again, thank you!
Simple Mittens — I’m so happy to hear this! It’s one of my favorite tofu recipes, too. (It’s really my only tofu recipe :)). Mango brulee sounds amazing. Care to share the recipe?