Gochujang Ramen with Tofu

I love good quality food, but I also have a small place in my heart reserved for convenience foods like instant ramen or frozen pizzas. I don’t indulge in them often, and when I do I often spruce them up with something special to make them a little more interesting. I’ve posted before about the […]

The post Gochujang Ramen with Tofu appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I love good quality food, but I also have a small place in my heart reserved for convenience foods like instant ramen or frozen pizzas. I don’t indulge in them often, and when I do I often spruce them up with something special to make them a little more interesting. I’ve posted before about the things I like to add to my instant ramen to give it an upgrade, and now I have a new favorite ingredient—gochujang! This sweet-salty-spicy paste creates a rich broth with plenty of umami that I balanced with some fresh spinach and chunks of mild tofu. This Gochujang Ramen with Tofu is a quick and easy way to indulge that noodle craving!

Two bowls of gochujang ramen with tofu, a bowl of gochujang on the side

What is Gochujang?

If you’ve never heard of gochujang, it’s a Korean chile paste made with chile peppers, rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. It kind of reminds me of a spicy version of miso. Gochujang is really starting to trend in the U.S. because of its uniquely sweet-salty-spicy and UMAMI flavor. And because we’re all kind of over our infatuation with sriracha and looking for the next best thing. It’s those fermented soy beans that really set gochujang apart and give whatever you’re adding it to that extra “WOW” factor. So if you haven’t tried it yet, put it on your list!

Where to Buy Gochujang

Because gochujang is really becoming quite popular, you’ll probably be able to find some at most major grocery stores. My local kroger actually carries about 4-5 different kinds! I’m using this Sempio Gochujang. If you have an Asian grocery store near you, you’re sure to find a really good selection there, and probably much better prices. Want to try to make your own? Try this traditional gochujang recipe, or this quickie 5-minute gochujang.

To Use the Ramen Packet or Not to Use the Ramen Packet

Personally, I like to use my own broth when making ramen instead of using the little seasoning packet that comes with the noodles. I like the freedom of tweaking the flavors and salt content, but you can use the seasoning packet if you prefer. Gochujang has quite a bit of salt, so if you do want to use the flavor packet that comes with the instant ramen I suggest adding the gochujang to the water first (3 cups water), then adding a little of the flavor packet at a time until the broth reaches a reasonable salt level for you.

How Spicy is It?

Decently spicy, IMHO. You can reduce the amount of gochujang to make it slightly less spicy, if you prefer. Or, if you’re looking for non-spicy ways to spruce up your ramen, check out my post about 6 Ways to Upgrade Ramen, or my Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen.

What Should I Do With my Leftover Tofu?

This recipe uses half of a traditional 14oz. block of tofu. My first choice for using up the other half of the block would be to make a half batch of my Curried Tofu Salad. That stuff is to die for. You could also toss it into a stir fry, or chop it up, add some BBQ sauce and make yourself a BBQ Tofu Slider.

Gochujang ramen with tofu in the sauce pot on a yellow background with a black and white zig-zag napkin.

 
One bowl of gochujang ramen with tofu, chopsticks on the side

Gochujang Ramen with Tofu

Spicy gochujang gives this instant ramen extra oomph! Gochujang Ramen with Tofu is a quick and easy way to satisfy that noodle craving.
Total Cost $2.26 recipe / $1.13 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 322.15kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 7 oz. extra firm tofu $0.90
  • 1 cup water $0.00
  • 2 cups vegetable broth* $0.26
  • 2 Tbsp gochujang $0.46
  • 1 package instant ramen* $0.19
  • 2 cups fresh spinach $0.25
  • 2 green onions $0.20

Instructions

  • Drain the tofu and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes.
  • Add the water, vegetable broth, and gochujang to a small sauce pot. Whisk until the gochujang is dissolved.
  • Add the cubed tofu to the pot, place a lid on top, and bring it up to a boil over high heat.
  • Once boiling, add the instant ramen noodles (without seasoning). Boil for one to two minutes, or just until the noodles begin to soften and pull loose from each other.
  • Add two handfuls (about 2 cups) fresh spinach and stir it into the hot broth until wilted. The noodles will finish cooking as the spinach wilts.
  • Slice the green onions and sprinkle over top of the ramen just before serving.

Notes

*If using vegetable broth, discard the seasoning packet that comes with the ramen noodles. If using the seasoning packet, use 3 cups of water instead of 1 cup water and 2 cups vegetable broth. Add the gochujang to the water first, then add a small amount of the seasoning packet at a time until you reach the desired level of saltiness for the broth.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 322.15kcal | Carbohydrates: 37.55g | Protein: 15.9g | Fat: 12.6g | Sodium: 1347.35mg | Fiber: 3.1g

side view of a bowl of gochujang ramen with chopsticks picking up a piece of tofu

How to Make Gochujang Ramen with Tofu – Step by Step Photos

cubed tofu on a cutting board

Drain a 14oz. block of tofu and cut half of it into ½-inch cubes. See the notes above the recipe for ideas for using the remaining tofu.

Gochujang broth in a small sauce pot with a whisk, tub of gochujang on the side

Add 1 cup water, 2 cups vegetable broth, and 2 Tbsp gochujang to a small sauce pot. Whisk until the gochujang has dissolved.

Cubed tofu being dropped into the pot

Add the cubed tofu to the pot. Adding the tofu before we start boiling the broth gives it a few minutes to start absorbing some of the flavor from the broth, as opposed to adding it at the end. Place a lid on the pot and bring the broth up to a boil over high heat.

Ramen noodles added to the pot, empty package on the side

Once boiling, add the block of instant ramen noodles (without seasoning packet). Let the noodles boil for about a minute, or just until they being to soften up and loosen up from the block.

Spinach added to the pot

Add a couple handfuls of spinach to the pot and stir it in until wilted. This should give the noodles just enough time to finish cooking as well.

Finished gochujang ramen in the pot

Slice two green onions and sprinkle them over the ramen just before serving.

One bowl of gochujang ramen with tofu, chopsticks on the side

Enjoy that spicy goodness!!

The post Gochujang Ramen with Tofu appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Crunchy Cabbage Salad

I ate my teriyaki meatball bowls all week as meal prep and absolutely loved them, but I desperately need another vegetable side to balance things out. So, I whipped up a quick crunchy cabbage salad and coated it in my yummy sesame ginger dressing. It was just perfect. The crunchiness of the the cabbage, carrots, […]

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I ate my teriyaki meatball bowls all week as meal prep and absolutely loved them, but I desperately need another vegetable side to balance things out. So, I whipped up a quick crunchy cabbage salad and coated it in my yummy sesame ginger dressing. It was just perfect. The crunchiness of the the cabbage, carrots, and peanuts was such a perfect contrast to the meatballs and rice.

Originally posted 2-6-2012, updated 7-23-2020.

Crunchy Cabbage Salad in a white serving dish with two forks, drizzled with sesame ginger dressing

Meal Prep It!

This salad holds up beautifully in the refrigerator, so it’s a great salad to use for meal prep! Just store the sesame ginger dressing separately from the vegetable salad mix, and add it just before serving. The salad mix (minus dressing) should stay good in the fridge for about 4-5 days.

How to Serve Crunchy Cabbage Salad

This salad makes a great side dish, but you can also turn it into a main dish by topping it with some Sticky Ginger Soy Glazed Chicken, or Sesame Tempeh. You can also add some cold noodles to this salad for extra oomph (this is the same base as my Cold Peanut Noodle Salad).

What if I Don’t Like Cilantro?

You either love or you hate cilantro. It’s all good. If you’re not a cilantro lover, just leave it out of this salad. No need to replace it with anything. :)

See the full post for the Sesame Ginger Dressing for more information on the ingredients and step by step instructions.

Crunchy cabbage salad coated in dressing, dished out to two bowls.

Sesame ginger dressing being poured over the crunchy cabbage salad

Crunchy Cabbage Salad

This crunchy cabbage salad holds up great in the refrigerator, so you can have a fresh crunchy vegetable side all week long!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 1 cup each
Calories 213.72kcal

Ingredients

Salad

  • 4 cups shredded purple cabbage $0.97
  • 2 carrots $0.15
  • 4 green onions $0.22
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro $0.40
  • ½ cup peanuts $0.25

Sesame Ginger Dressing

  • ¼ cup neutral salad oil* $0.16
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar $0.27
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce $0.06
  • 1.5 Tbsp honey $0.18
  • 1/2 Tbsp tahini $0.10
  • 1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil $0.02
  • 1 clove garlic, minced $0.08
  • 1/2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger $0.15

Instructions

  • Shred the cabbage as finely as possible. Grate the carrots and slice the green onion. Pull the cilantro leaves from the stems
  • Add the shredded cabbage, carrots, green onion, cilantro, and peanuts to a large bowl. Toss to combine.
  • To make the dressing, add the salad oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, tahini, toasted sesame oil, garlic, and ginger to a blender. Blend until the dressing is smooth and creamy.
  • When you're ready to eat, drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss until coated. Serve immediately

Notes

*Any neutral-flavored salad oil, like peanut, canola, safflower, grapeseed, or sesame (untoasted) will work fine for this dressing.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 213.72kcal | Carbohydrates: 13.88g | Protein: 5.08g | Fat: 16.78g | Sodium: 179.27mg | Fiber: 4.58g

How to Make Crunchy Cabbage Salad – Step by Step Photos

Purple cabbage cut into quarters and shredded

First, shred your purple cabbage. You’ll want about 4 cups once shredded, which for me was half of this small head of cabbage. To shred the cabbage, first cut it into quarters, then cut the core off the quarter. Finally, cut across the quarter to shred the cabbage as finely as possible.

shredded carrot and sliced green onion

Also shred two carrots (I use a cheese grater) and slice 4 green onions.

Salad ingredients in the bowl

Pull the leaves from about ½ bunch of cilantro (about 1 cup cilantro leaves). Add the shredded cabbage, carrot, sliced green onion, cilantro leaves, and ½ cup peanuts to a large bowl.

Sesame ginger dressing ingredients in a blender

Next, make the Sesame Ginger Dressing. Add ¼ cup neutral salad oil (anything light-flavored oil like canola, peanut, grapeseed, etc.), 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1.5 Tbsp honey, ½ Tbsp tahini, ¼ tsp toasted sesame oil, 1 clove garlic (minced), and ½ Tbsp grated fresh ginger to a blender. Blend until the dressing is smooth and creamy.

Sesame ginger dressing being poured over the crunchy cabbage salad

Pour the sesame ginger dressing over the salad and enjoy!

The post Crunchy Cabbage Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Sesame Ginger Dressing

This Sesame Ginger Dressing is probably one of the most addictive homemade dressings I’ve ever made. It’s sweet, salty, tangy, and has a super “zingy” fresh ginger bite. It’s one of those dressings that you’ll just want to keep dipping your spoon into. The type of dressing that will make you want to eat a […]

The post Sesame Ginger Dressing appeared first on Budget Bytes.

This Sesame Ginger Dressing is probably one of the most addictive homemade dressings I’ve ever made. It’s sweet, salty, tangy, and has a super “zingy” fresh ginger bite. It’s one of those dressings that you’ll just want to keep dipping your spoon into. The type of dressing that will make you want to eat a salad just to serve as a vehicle for the delicious dressing (that’s not exactly a bad thing). But, if you’re like me, you’ll probably just end up drizzling it over everything!

Originally posted 2-5-2012, updated 7-23-2020.

Sesame ginger dressing in a wooden bowl, garnished with sesame seeds, a spoon in the middle of the bowl.

What is Tahini?

Tahini is a paste made out of ground sesame seeds. Think of it like peanut butter, but made with sesame seeds instead of peanuts! It’s one of the base ingredients for this dressing and can not be substituted in this recipe. The tahini not only adds sesame flavor to the recipe, but it also helps thicken the dressing. You can usually find tahini in the grocery store either near the peanut butter, or near the middle-eastern ingredients in the international aisle. 

Can I Substitute the Rice Vinegar?

I don’t suggest substituting the rice vinegar in this recipe. Rice vinegar has a uniquely mild flavor and acidity compared to other vinegars, which keeps it from overpowering the other flavors. While you might be able to use another type of vinegar, you’d probably also need to adjust the amount or the ratio of other ingredients to compensate for the increased acidity. 

How Long Does This Sesame Ginger Dressing Last?

Because this dressing uses fresh ginger and garlic, I suggest keeping it stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. But it tastes so good that hopefully you’ll finish it off before then!

How to Use Sesame Ginger Dressing

This dressing goes great over crunchy salads, like my Crunchy Cabbage Salad, but it can also be poured over cold noodle salads, used to dip egg rolls or dumplings, or poured over rice bowls. The sky’s the limit and I’m sure once you’ll taste it you’ll want it on everything!

Sesame ginger dressing being poured over crunchy cabbage salad from a mason jar

 
A wooden bowl filled with sesame ginger dressing next to a knob of fresh ginger

Sesame Ginger Dressing

This homemade sesame ginger dressing will drench your favorite salad with a sweet, salty, and nutty flavor, and a fresh gingery bite!
Total Cost $2.03 recipe / $0.20 sesrving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 10 2 Tbsp each
Calories 132.33kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger $0.30
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil* $0.32
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar $0.53
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce $0.12
  • 3 Tbsp honey $0.36
  • 1 Tbsp tahini $0.19
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil $0.05

Instructions

  • Mince the garlic and grate the ginger (I use a small-holed cheese grater)
  • Add the minced garlic, grated ginger, oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, tahini, and toasted sesame oil to a blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Serve over salad or as a dipping sauce.

Notes

*Any neutral-flavored salad oil, like peanut, canola, safflower, grapeseed, or sesame (untoasted) will work fine for this dressing.
If your dressing is too thick for pouring, simply stir in a tablespoon or two of water to loosen it up.

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tbsp | Calories: 132.33kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.98g | Protein: 0.59g | Fat: 12.27g | Sodium: 177.95mg | Fiber: 0.2g

How to Make Sesame Ginger Dressing – Step by Step Photos

garlic press with two cloves of garlic, and fresh ginger with a microplane

Begin by mincing two cloves of garlic and grating about 1 Tbsp of fresh ginger. I like to use my garlic press to easily mince the garlic and a small-holed cheese grater to easily grate the ginger. Ginger grates easier if it’s frozen (the little hairs don’t clog the grater). I don’t even bother peeling it, I just make sure the peel is very clean.

minced garlic and grated ginger

And that’s what it looks like once the garlic is minced and ginger grated (for everyone who is visual, like me).

Rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and tahini

Here are three of the most important ingredients in this dressing: rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and tahini. Toasted sesame oil has a much stronger nutty flavor than regular (or un-toasted) sesame oil. You can usually find it near other Asian ingredients in the international aisle. 

Dressing ingredients in the blender

Add the 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 Tbsp grated ginger, ½ cup neutral salad oil, ¼ cup rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 3 Tbsp honey, 1 Tbsp tahini, and ½ tsp toasted sesame oil to a blender. Any neutral-flavored salad oil, like peanut, canola, grapeseed, sesame (un-toasted), or safflower will work fine.

Blended dressing on a spoon in the blender

Blend until the dressing is smooth and creamy. If your dressing ends up being really thick and you’d like it a little more pourable, simply stir in a tablespoon or two of water.

A wooden bowl filled with sesame ginger dressing next to a knob of fresh ginger

Enjoy the sesame ginger dressing poured over your favorite salad, or as a dipping sauce!

The post Sesame Ginger Dressing appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Sesame Cucumber Salad

This salad is one of the very first recipes I ever posted on Budget Bytes. Like, way back when I was still taking photos with my pre-smart-phone era phone. Yikes! Because this Sesame Cucumber Salad is still one of my favorite dishes and my favorite way to use up all those delicious and inexpensive summer […]

The post Sesame Cucumber Salad appeared first on Budget Bytes.

This salad is one of the very first recipes I ever posted on Budget Bytes. Like, way back when I was still taking photos with my pre-smart-phone era phone. Yikes! Because this Sesame Cucumber Salad is still one of my favorite dishes and my favorite way to use up all those delicious and inexpensive summer cucumbers, I had to repost it and give it the proper attention it needs. So, if this Sesame Cucumber recipe is new to you, I hope it becomes one of your go-to fav’s as it has for me. It will serve you well!

Originally posted July 2019, updated 7-9-2020.

A bowl of Sesame Cucumber Salad from above, chopsticks on the side

Do I Have to Use Rice Vinegar?

I strongly urge you not to substitute the rice vinegar in this recipe. Rice vinegar has a uniquely mild flavor and acidity that is just perfect for this recipe. While people have substituted the rice vinegar with white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, I find them both a bit too strong for this recipe. Also, be mindful not to use “seasoned” rice vinegar, which has other ingredients added and tastes quite different.

Where Do You Find Rice Vinegar?

Rice vinegar is fairly inexpensive, can be found in the Asian section of most major grocery stores, and will stay good in your pantry for just about forever. If you make Budget Bytes recipes on the regular, I promise it will get used again! In fact, here is a direct link to all the recipes on my website that use Rice Vinegar.

What is Toasted Sesame Oil?

The other key ingredient in this cucumber salad is toasted sesame oil. Unlike regular sesame oil, toasted sesame oil has a very strong nutty flavor and a little bit can really add a LOT of flavor to any dish. You can find toasted sesame oil in the international aisle of most major grocery stores, or Asian grocery stores. It may not say “toasted” on the label, but you’ll know it is toasted by the deep walnut color. Untoasted sesame oil is a light straw color, like canola oil.

How Long Does This Salad Last?

This salad does get kind of limp in the refrigerator fairly quickly, but it’s still insanely good once the cucumbers soften. They’re almost like pickled cucumber slices at that point. They’ve been marinating in the spicy-sweet vinegar solution and are just totally delicious! I enjoy this salad for about 2-3 days after making it (if I don’t eat it all sooner). If you like your cucumbers to stay crunchy, try cutting them into chunks instead of thin slices.

Side view of a bowl of sesame cucumber salad, chopsticks picking up one slice of cucumber

 
Side view of a bowl of sesame cucumber salad, chopsticks picking up one slice of cucumber

Sesame Cucumber Salad

Sesame Cucumber Salad is light, refreshing, and vibrant in flavor. It's the perfect summer side dish or companion to any Southeast Asian inspired meal.
Total Cost $2.44 recipe / $0.41 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 62.82kcal
Author Beth - Budget Bytes

Ingredients

DRESSING

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar $0.70
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil $0.05
  • 1/4 crushed red pepper $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 2 large cucumbers $1.38
  • 3 green onions $0.13
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts $0.12

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, crushed red pepper, and salt. Set the dressing aside.
  • Peel and slice the cucumber using your favorite method (see photos below for my technique). Place the sliced cucumbers in a large bowl.
  • Chop the peanuts into smaller pieces. Slice the green onions.
  • Add the peanuts, green onions, and dressing to the sliced cucumbers. Stir to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat. Give the salad a brief stir before serving to redistribute the dressing and flavors.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 62.82kcal | Carbohydrates: 7.63g | Protein: 1.87g | Fat: 3.1g | Sodium: 199.82mg | Fiber: 1.4g

Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Overhead view of a bowl full of sesame cucumber salad

How to Make Sesame Cucumber Salad – Step by Step Photos

Spicy vinegar dressing in a bowl

Start by making the dressing. In a small bowl, stir together 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp salt. Set the dressing aside.

Bottle of toasted sesame oil and a bottle of rice vinegar

Here is the toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar that I used. The sesame oil is from Aldi and the rice vinegar is from Kroger.

Two cucumbers, one half peeled

Peel and slice two large cucumbers however you like. I like to remove strips of the peel to create a cool striped effect once they’re sliced. If you don’t like cucumber seeds, you can slice the cucumber lengthwise before slicing into rounds and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds in the center.

Two cucumbers, one mostly sliced

I prefer thin slices so that there is more surface area to come into contact with the dressing. The thinner slices will become soft and wobbly after storing them in the dressing, but I kind of like that, too. If you prefer them to stay crunchy longer, you’ll want to do thicker slices. 

Sliced green onion and chopped peanuts

Roughly chop 1/4 cup peanuts and slice 3 green onions.

Dressing being poured over cucumbers, green onion, and peanuts

Place the sliced cucumbers in a large bowl, add the sliced green onion and chopped peanuts, then pour the dressing over top.

Finished sesame cucumber salad in the bowl

Finally, stir it all up and you’re ready to eat! Serve it immediately or refrigerate for later.

Side view of a bowl full of sesame cucumber salad, chopsticks on the side

The flavors do get really good as it sits in the fridge, although the cucumbers get softer (some people don’t like that–I kind of do!). Either way, this Thai Cucumber Salad is super refreshing and delicious. It always has been and always will be my favorite!

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