TikTok star Joanne Lee Molinaro includes this recipe for vegan tofu cakes in her new “The Korean Vegan Cookbook.” Traditionally, these golden fried cakes of tofu, carrot and mushroom use egg as a binder, but this recipe from Molinaro uses an egg replacer.

When these cakes are paired with the spicy soy sauce for dipping, you won’t want to stop eating them. If you prefer a less spicy sauce, you can omit the fresh chiles from the sauce, but don’t skip gochugaru, which adds gentle heat.

Storage Notes: The leftover soy sauce dressing can be refrigerated for up to 1 month. The leftover cakes can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Where to Buy: Brown rice syrup, gochugaru and mirin can be found at Asian markets or online.

NOTES: Pressing tofu is necessary to remove excess liquid. Place the block of tofu (you can cut it in half horizontally) on a flat surface lined with a clean dish towel. Place another clean dish towel on top, and weigh the tofu down using a heavy pot or pan for 30 to 40 minutes.

If you don’t have egg replacer, substitute 1 tablespoon plant milk in the tofu mixture and then use a mixture of 2 tablespoons plant milk, 1 teaspoon potato starch and ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric for dipping the cakes before frying.

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For the dressing

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 shishito pepper or jalapeño, sliced (optional)
  • 1/2 Fresno pepper, sliced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup or maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mirin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

For the dooboo jeon

  • One (16-ounce) block firm tofu, pressed (see NOTES)
  • 3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 scallions, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 small-to-medium carrot, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon liquid egg replacer, such as JUST Egg brand, divided, plus more as needed (see NOTES)
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt or fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or another neutral oil, plus more as needed

Step 1

Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, gochugaru, garlic, scallions, red onion, shishito or jalapeño pepper (if using), Fresno pepper (if using), brown rice syrup or maple syrup, rice vinegar, mirin, black pepper and turmeric until combined; you should get about 3/4 cup. Transfer to a lidded jar and refrigerate until needed. Shake well before serving.

Step 2

Make the dooboo jeon: In a large bowl, mix together the tofu, mushrooms, scallions, carrot, 1 tablespoon of the egg replacer, the potato starch, salt and pepper until the mixture is pretty mushy and sticky (if your tofu batter is a little dry, add additional egg replacer, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you get the desired consistency). Divide the mixture into eight portions and shape them into round cakes about 2 inches wide and 1 inch tall.

Step 3

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Place the remaining 1/3 cup of egg replacer in a small bowl. Dip the patties in the egg replacer to coat in an even, thin layer, then transfer to the skillet. Cook until evenly browned on each side, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Transfer to a serving platter and serve warm, spooning the dressing on top.

Nutrition Information

Per serving (2 cakes with 1 tablespoon of sauce), based on 4

Calories: 212; Total Fat: 15 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 887 mg; Carbohydrates: 10 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 3 g; Protein: 14g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “The Korean Vegan Cookbook” by Joanne Lee Molinaro (Avery, 2021).

Tested by Olga Massov; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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