Back To Top

[Holly’s Korean Kitchen] Steamed soft tofu with soy chili sauce

Steamed soft tofu with soy chili sauce (Holly Ford)
Steamed soft tofu with soy chili sauce (Holly Ford)
Several years ago, I was on vacation in Korea’s east coast with my family, riding three-wheeled all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Our guide told us to go up a steep mountain in the rain. Unfortunately I had a very bad fall, which led to a fracture on my upper femur bone right below the socket.

Long story short, instead of spending the day riding ATVs we rode ambulances. I had surgery and was hospitalized for a few days. During the hospitalization I lost over 4.5 kilograms due to the stress and a loss of appetite. I wasn’t able to taste or eat any food that was served in the hospital. Everything tasted like sand except this Korean soft tofu dish.

Somehow, I was able to taste this silky smooth soft tofu (silken tofu) drizzled with slightly spicy Korean soy chili sauce. It was the only dish that I could actually swallow down. 

This Korean silken tofu was a life-saver for me during those painful recovery days, and I still enjoy it. And of course, after my recovery I gained all the pounds back plus a little more. Arrrgh!

Out of all the soft tofu recipes out there, this is one of the best because it is a no-brainer. It is a super simple recipe with the basic ingredients you already have and you will get a savory silken tofu in less than 5 minutes -- a perfect recipe for those lazy days when you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen.

Don’t miss out on this healthy vegetarian and vegan tofu dish. It’s also gluten-free, if you use gluten-free soy sauce. This dish is low in fat, super delicious, and hassle-free!

What is silken tofu (soft tofu)?

Silken tofu is undrained and unpressed tofu. Of the many types of tofu, it has the highest water content. It is made by coagulating soy milk without curdling it, which gives it a wobbly, tender texture.

Tofu is a widely used ingredient in Korean cuisine. While crispy pan-fried tofu recipes use firm tofu, Korean soft tofu stew (sundubu jjigae) uses silken tofu as a key ingredient. I shared another great soft tofu soup recipe in my cookbook, ”Korean Cooking Favorites.“

How do you cook soft tofu? (3 different ways)

1. Microwave method: Take the tofu out of the package and gently place it on a microwave-safe plate. Warm it up for about 45 seconds in the microwave.

2. Poaching method: Drop the entire unopened package of tofu in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Carefully open the package and slide the tofu out onto a serving dish. (If you are not comfortable with the plastic package in boiling water, use the microwave or steaming method instead)

3. Steaming method: Bring a pot of water to boil with a steamer in it. Put a block of tofu on a heat-proof plate and place it on the steamer. Cover the pot with a lid and steam for 3-5 minutes.

Soft tofu with soy chili sauce (Microwave method)


● 1 lb (1 pkg) soft tofu (silken tofu) drained
● 2 tbsp soy sauce
● 1/2 tbsp Korean soup soy sauce (gukganjang)
● 1 tbsp water
● 2 -3 tsp Korean chili flakes (gochugaru)
● 2 tsp sesame oil
● 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
● 1 green onion finely chopped


1. To make soy chili sauce, mix all the soy chili sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

2. To steam the tofu, take the tofu out of the package and place on a microwave-safe dish. Heat it up for 1-2 minutes until hot.

3. Drizzle the soy chili sauce over the entire block of tofu, or slice the tofu into 2-4 pieces and place them on an individual dish, then drizzle the sauce over the tofu. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

By Holly Ford (

Hye-gyoung Ford (aka Holly) is a well-known Korean food blogger and the author of “Korean Cooking Favorites.” Born and raised in Korea, she has lived in many countries. She shares her recipes and food memories in her blog, Beyond Kimchee. - Ed.

By Korea Herald (
catch table
Korea Herald daum