Miss Kim's Fried Tofu


At her restaurant Miss Kim in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ji Hye Kim, a 2021 F&W Best New Chef, tosses deep-fried crispy tofu in a flavorful salty-sweet brown sugar glaze amped up with a handful of powerhouse ingredients, including Korean soy sauce (made exclusively from fermented soy beans), gochugaru (Korean red chile flakes) and ginger. For a shorter day-of cook time, make the sauce and the cornstarch-dusted tofu up to a day ahead, and store in the refrigerator; warm up the sauce and fry the tofu just before serving. Garnished with sesame seeds and scallions, the glazed fried tofu is a festive appetizer or can be paired with kimchi and rice for a vegetarian meal.

Miss Kim's Fried Tofu
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell
Total Time:
1 hrs


  • 2 (14-ounce) package soft tofu

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar

  • .6666 cup Korean soy sauce (such as Sempio)

  • ½ cup mirin

  • 1 cup plus 3 Tbsp. water, divided

  • ¼ cup rice vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons gochugaru

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

  • 1 ½ teaspoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

  • 1 ¾ cups plus 2 Tbsp. cornstarch, divided

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1 ½ tablespoons baking powder, divided

  • Vegetable oil, for frying

  • ¾ cup white rice flour (not sweet)

  • ½ cup vodka

  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds


  1. Slice tofu blocks into 1-inch cubes (about 60 cubes). Arrange tofu in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Let drain at least 15 minutes or upto 1 hour. Place paper towels on top of drained tofu, and press lightly to remove additional moisture.

  2. While tofu drains, stir together brown sugar, soy sauce, mirin, 1/2 cup water, vinegar, gochugaru, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium. While mixture comes to a boil, whisk together 3 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a small bowl to make a slurry. When brown sugar mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and stir in slurry. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and reaches a maple syrup–like consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

  3. Stir together 1 cup cornstarch, salt, and 1 tablespoon baking powder in a medium bowl. Using a pastry brush, dust tofu cubes with cornstarch mixture. Place dusted tofu cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; refrigerate until ready to fry.

  4. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet; set aside. Pour vegetable oil to a depth of 4 inches in a heavy saucepan, and heat over medium until oil reaches 350°F. Whisk together rice flour, remaining 3/4 cup cornstarch, and remaining 1/2 tablespoon baking powder in a medium bowl. Whisk vodka and remaining 1/2 cup water into rice flour mixture until batter is completely smooth.

  5. Preheat oven to 200°F. Working in batches of about 15 cubes and working with 1 cube at a time, use your hand to gently dip 1 dusted tofu cube into batter to coat. Gently place in hot oil, keeping cubes separated to prevent sticking. When tofu floats to the surface and is golden and crispy, 5 to 6 minutes, use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer to prepared wire rack. Place in preheated oven to keep warm while frying remaining tofu.

  6. Rewarm sauce over low. Transfer fried tofu to a large heatproof bowl. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of warm sauce to tofu and, using tongs, gently turn tofu to coat, adding more sauce as desired. Using spider, lift glazed tofu from bowl, allowing excess to drip back into bowl, and transfer to a plate. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds, and serve with remaining sauce, if desired. Serve immediately.

Make ahead

Sauce can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.


Find Korean soy sauce and gochugaru at Korean grocery stores or online at asianmart.com.

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