This fiery, bubbling broth known as soondubu is a powerhouse mixture of alliums, kimchi, gochugaru, and briny, fresh seafood. Gochugaru has a sweet, bright pepper flavor and is much less spicy than your run-of-the-mill crushed red pepper flakes, so you can use a lot.
Heat 1 Tbsp. ghee in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high. Add cauliflower in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown underneath, 4–5 minutes. Toss and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until still crunchy but browned in spots, about 4 minutes longer. Add onion, garlic, and remaining 1 Tbsp. ghee. Cook, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are halfway to tenderness, 8–10 minutes longer. Season generously with salt and pepper, then add ginger and turmeric. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tofu, raisins, and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook, partially covered, until cauliflower is tender and liquid is reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Cook tofu, undisturbed, until very crisp and dark brown underneath, 4–5 minutes. Carefully turn and repeat on opposite side. Holding tofu back with a spatula or slotted spoon, pour out oil into a small bowl; discard oil. Return skillet to medium-high heat and add soy sauce mixture (reserve medium bowl; you’ll use it again). Cook, turning tofu occasionally and reducing heat to medium if needed, until glaze is almost thick enough to coat a spoon, about 4 minutes.
Welcome to Never Fail, a weekly column where we wax poetic about the recipes that never, ever let us down.
In theory, working at a food magazine should mean that my fridge is always fully stocked with peak-season produce and every night is a parade of beautiful, thoughtful meals. In reality, making dinner most nights feels like an off-brand version of Chopped in which I spend a lot of time gazing into my fridge, then just end up throwing a bunch of things in a bowl. But even on the darkest fridge days (a.k.a. rent week), I can rely on this crispy tofu to come through.
Stop! If you’re an avowed tofu hater, don’t you dare close this tab. This recipe will turn you—I’ve seen it before. I’ll admit that, in the wrong hands, tofu can be bland and stodgy. But this tofu is crispy and chewy, with a custard-y interior and hugely flavorful maple-soy glaze. What’s not to love?
I would be embarrassed about how often I’ve made this recipe since it debuted on Healthyish last February, but senior food editor Chris Morocco is a genius so I have no shame. It’s been in heavy rotation for months because all of the key ingredients—maple syrup, soy sauce, rice vinegar, tofu—are pantry staples for me. If tofu hasn’t earned a permanent place on your grocery list, this recipe offers a compelling reason. It’s affordable, keeps unopened in the fridge for weeks, and becomes crispy and delicious under that maple-soy glaze. And, like Rihanna, it will bless anything it touches.
About that glaze: It’s not as scary as you think. It’s a simple mix of ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, and mild chile flakes, which bastes crispy browned tofu until reduced in a sticky, delicious sauce. It delivers takeout-joint level satisfaction, but can be totally accomplished in your PJs at home.
Really, the best thing about this tofu treatment is how versatile it is. I tend to follow a simple formula: tofu + grains + vegetables. Think white rice or even soba noodles, shaved daikon or crunchy Persian cucumbers. I’ve used this crispy tofu to round out a rice bowl with sautéed mushrooms and gomae, but you can’t really go wrong here. Just don’t forget the sliced scallions, which are a must—they’ll tie together any fridge scraps into a next-level tofu bowl you’ll be stoked to eat any day.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Cook scallions, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add ginger, chile, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened and mixture is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Working in batches, add handfuls of spinach, letting it wilt slightly before adding more and stirring occasionally, until all the spinach is in the pan. Cover and cook until spinach is wilted and bright green, about 3 minutes. Uncover and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in tofu mixture and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt.
These crumbles are just simply… better than all that. With just the right balance of crispiness and spongy-squishiness (and I mean this in the best possible sense), plus a fiery, salty sauce, it’s the most versatile, protein-heavy side/condiment/snack in my repertoire. I’ve made it almost every month for the past two years. And I would eat them a lot more—say, alongside every single meal if I had the opportunity.
Of course it helps that the method is so easy to execute. See, in a pre-Spicy Tofu Crumbles world, I would pan-fry tofu by cutting it up first, then tend to each delicate cube in the pan with an eagle eye. I used baby tongs, a fork, or even a wee offset spatula (permission to roll your eyes granted) to flip every cube from side to side… to side, to side, making sure no piece was left pale. It was a precious and ridiculous process that consumed too much of my precious and ridiculous time. This recipe offers sweet relief! By cooking the tofu in large, thick slabs, you only have a handful of pieces to turn just once.
Once the slabs are on the browner side of golden brown, you’ll let them cool and then tear them up with your fingers. You can also use the dullest knife in your kitchen to achieve the same goal: craggy, uneven tofu crumbles with plenty of crevasses to catch and absorb all of the spicy sauce.
That sauce is made, very conveniently, from ingredients you probably already have: soy sauce, mirin, Sriracha or gochujang, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil. There are also a couple of fresh ingredients—thinly sliced Fresno chile and grated fresh ginger—both of which I’ve left out in times of need (I’ve also swapped out the Fresno for a jalapeño and a Serrano and have not been worse for the wear).