I've made plenty of braised dishes over the years, including for other challenges, but instead of trying something new for the Week 10 braised challenge, what I decided to do was make one of my current favorite braising recipes which I've never written about here before. About a year ago, I stumbled upon this recipe for Korean braised tofu from the Las Vegas Food Adventures blog. I tried it as written (mostly, as I didn't have chili garlic sauce and needed to make substitutions) and really loved it. Since then, I've made it my own way, but the sauce was really inspired by this recipe, so credit where credit is due.
The ingredients for my version of Korean braised tofu are (and yes, I'm aware that the sauce measurements are horribly imprecise but I don't measure anymore and just adjust to taste as I go; the original inspiration recipe might be better for measurements if you're not inclined to go by taste):
- 1 package of firm tofu, cubed ($1.32)
- 1 onion, chopped ($0.60)
- 1 package of white mushrooms, chopped ($1.99)
- about a tbsp of oil ($0.15)
- a few tbsp of soy sauce ($0.20)
- a couple tsp of sesame oil ($0.20)
- a few shakes of sesame seeds ($0.10)
- 2 large spoonfuls of gochujang ($0.65)
- 1/2 head of garlic, minced ($0.10)
- small batch of scallions, chopped ($0.75)
The total cost for this recipe is approximately $6 (with best guesses on prices for the sauce ingredients), maybe $7 when you include the rice. That's a great price for dinner for 2, so it should come as no surprise that I currently make this quite a bit.
The steps were:
1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium high heat and saute onions and mushrooms.
2. Add tofu and cook the tofu until it starts to get a little more browned.
3. While everything is cooking, make the sauce (or can do it before starting to cook). Mince garlic, chop scallions, add sauce ingredients, and adjust to taste.
4. Pour the sauce over the tofu and vegetable mixture, and stir so that everything is well-coated in the sauce.
5. Reduce to medium low or low heat, and let the mixture simmer for about 5-10 minutes. (The sauce should thicken up and reduce quite a bit. If not, I usually just add a potato/corn starch and water mixture to thicken it.)
It's a really easy recipe to make and other than the mushrooms and scallions (which are easy to obtain), we usually have everything on hand. We love the flavor that gochujang brings to the dish (although I've had to start using more and more because I think our gochujang is getting old), and adding in mushrooms and onions makes it more of a complete dish that we can just eat on its own with rice.
The original recipe that inspired this is pretty great as written too, but I started modifying it mostly to add in more vegetables so we can just make a single dish for dinner instead of a bunch. (Goodness knows it takes me long enough to make one every night.) It has definitely turned out well, and I'm grateful to have found that original one for ideas on a good sauce. This absolutely has a place in our rotation.