Gochujang salad with a spicy-creamy dressing, salt and pepper tofu, and crunchy veggies is a quick and easy lunch or weeknight meal
This gochujang salad dressing was a late night idea that could not have turned out better. It was so delicious that I hastily jotted it down and spent weeks perfecting it, so I could share it here with you on this amazing vegan dinner salad.
The creamy dressing has a tahini base with lots of savory gochujang and fresh lime juice and a little bit of fresh garlic. It's super simple dressing that only takes a few minutes to make in the blender!
I'm serving is here over a green salad topped with my air fryer salt and pepper tofu (stovetop directions also included below). Feel free to use the gochujang dressing on your favorite green salad!
Ingredients and substitutions
- extra firm tofu - Press your tofu and slice it into cubes. If you don't want to use air fryer salt and pepper tofu, feel free to use a cooked, vegan chicken substitute, seitan, or even chickpeas instead.
- oil - A mix of olive oil and toasted sesame oil helps the tofu get crispy crunchy. If you're pan frying the tofu, you'll also use the oil to fry.
- soy sauce - Use low-sodium soy sauce for the best results.
- cornstarch - Helps the tofu get so crispy and crunchy!
- spices - Salt, pepper, and garlic powder season the tofu.
- tahini - Tahini is the creamy base for your gochujang salad dressing. Make sure that you stir your tahini before measuring, since it tends to separate. If you don't stir, your dressing can end up watery.
- gochujang paste - Gochujang is a spicy-sweet, fermented Korean chili paste. It has an amazing flavor that pairs so well with tahini and lime juice!
- lime juice - This is the acid in your dressing. The flavor of fresh lime compliments gochujang so well! You can use lemon juice or rice vinegar instead, if you don't have limes.
- garlic - A little bit of fresh garlic or garlic powder just ups the umami quotient. You can omit the garlic, but I love the dimension it gives this dressing!
- water - To thin things out. The tahini-gochujang mixture will be pretty thick. Add water to thin the dressing to your desired consistency.
- agave nectar or sugar (optional) - Some tahini can have a bitter flavor. If your dressing is too bitter, add a teaspoon or so of agave nectar to balance it out.
- veggies - You can really serve this with any veggies you like! I'm using romaine lettuce, cucumber, bell pepper, and green onions.
- fresh mint - A sprinkle of fresh mint really ups the flavor ante!
How to make gochujang salad
First, make the salt and pepper tofu. Mix together the oils and the teaspoon of soy sauce, then toss well with the tofu in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder, then toss the tofu in the cornstarch mixture, coating well.
Air fry or cook it on the stovetop. See the recipe card below for more detailed cooking directions!
Make the dressing and prepare the gochujang salad while the tofu presses and cooks.
Combine all of the gochujang dressing ingredients in your blender, and blend until you have a nice, smooth dressing.
Add more water by the tablespoon, as needed, to reach your desired consistency.
Some tahini can have a more bitter flavor that comes through in the dressing. If your dressing tastes bitter, add a tablespoon or so of agave nectar to balance it out. Blend and taste again.
Now, you're ready to prepare the salad! Divide the veggies between your bowls and top with the tofu and dressing and a sprinkle of fresh mint. You can also sprinkle on some sesame seeds, if you like.
- This dressing will thicken in the refrigerator, so whisk in some more water, if needed, to thin it out. Start with a teaspoon or two, and go from there.
- When adding water to thin out the dressing, go slowly! You can always add, but you can't take away. If you do overdo it with the water, that's ok! Just add more of the other ingredients and blend again to revive the flavor.
- If you have leftovers, I recommend storing the tofu, gochujang dressing, and veggies in separate containers. That way, you can heat up the tofu, and the dressing won't wilt the veggies.
Serving and storage directions
If you don't want to make the salad, you can also serve the gochujang salad dressing as a dip for veggies! The gochujang dressing will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
The tofu will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator. Store it separately, and heat it back up in the air fryer, oven, or toaster oven, so it gets crispy again.
The cut veggies will keep separately from the tofu and dressing for two to three days.
Frequently asked questions
Gochujang is a Korean fermented red chili paste with a sweet-and-spicy flavor profile.
Gochujang is a chili paste, so it's perfect for dissolving into sauces, soups, dressings, etc. Anywhere you want some sweet heat and an umami punch, gochujang is there for you!
This gochujang dressing is a great dip for veggies or poured over a leafy green or grain salad with lots of veggies. You can also add fresh herbs, like mint and cilantro.
More blender sauces
For the salt and pepper tofu
- 1 block extra firm tofu cut into 1" cubes
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch or potato starch
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
For the gochujang salad dressing
For the salad
- 4 to 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- 1 cup sliced cucumber
- 1 cup sliced red pepper
- ¼ cup minced red onion or you can use green onion
- fresh mint
Make the salt and pepper tofu.
- Mix together the oils and the teaspoon of soy sauce, then toss well with the tofu in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder, then toss the tofu in the cornstarch mixture, coating well.
- Air fryer directions: Arrange the tofu in your air fryer basket, spreading it out as much as possible. Air fry at 375° F for 10 minutes, then shake the basket well and air fry for 5 to 10 more minutes, or until the tofu turns a beautiful, crispy, golden brown.
- Stovetop directions: Heat 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat, making sure that the pan is hot before adding the tofu. To check, wet your fingers under the tap, and flick a few drops of water into the oil. If it sizzles off immediately, the pan is ready. Add the tofu to the pan, making sure that the pieces don’t overlap. Cook the tofu for 6 to 7 minutes, until you can see that the bottoms are golden brown. Use a spatula to flip, and cook for another 6 to 7 minutes, so it browns on the other side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels or a clean cloth napkin to drain until you're ready to use.
Make the salad dressing and prep the veggies while the tofu cooks.
- Combine all of the ingredients in your blender, and blend until you have a nice, smooth dressing. Add more water by the teaspoon, as needed, to reach your desired consistency.
- Some tahini can have a more bitter flavor that comes through in the dressing. If your dressing tastes bitter, add a tablespoon or so of maple syrup to balance it out. Blend and taste again.
Assemble the salad
- Divide the veggies between your bowls and top with the tofu and dressing and a sprinkle of fresh mint. You can also sprinkle on some sesame seeds, if you like.