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Korean Soft Tofu Stew - Soondubu Jjigae 순두부찌개

Thursday, November 18, 2010 | Labels: , , , |

Soondubu jjigae (순두부찌개) is one of the classics in Korean stews - soondubu refers to soft tofu while jjigae means stew.  Soondubu jjigae is a spicy stew with seafood and usually beef (but I used chicken) base cooked with extra soft, silky tofu.  I have always loved Korean cuisine and only recently started to cook Korean food at home.  I love how Koreans use a variety of colouful and nutritious vegetables especially in their stews and soups - and after making maeuntang (spicy fish soup) earlier that I adapted from Maangchi with delectable results, I decided to try making today's popular soondubu jjigae also based on a recipe from Maangchi.


Instead of gochujang (spicy chilli paste) that was used in the maeuntang, Maangchi advocates using gochugaru (spicy chilli powder) instead, although a quick look around the web brought up all kinds of variations where some cooks vouch for the gochujang version and some for gochugaru while some used a mix of both.  I am no expert on Korean cuisine but I think the most important thing with food in general is that it suits your own tastebuds and I find it extremely enjoyable to experiment and come up with your own recipes. 


I used Chinese cabbage (Nappa) in my soondubu jjigae today but you can substitute with your favourite vegetables - I think spinach will work extremely well. The cabbage and seafood added natural sweetness to the soup while the meaty shitake mushrooms and silky soft tofu added great contrasting textures.  All in all, I was extremely satisfied with the results.  By the way, the Chinese in me tells me that this stew would make a great base for noodles, especially rice noodles.


Recipe adapted from Maangchi


For the broth:

8 cups of water
5 inches worth of dried kelp (konbu)
2 small red onions (use 1 large one)
5 dried shitake mushrooms (soaked in hot water for 2 hours - remove stems)
1/2 cup of dried anchovies, rinsed
8 cloves of garlic

For the stew:

1 cup worth of sliced chicken thighs (get boneless to make your job easier)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 heaped tbsps of gochujang
1 - 2 tbsps of gochugaru (this depends on how spicy you want your stew to be)
1/2 cup of small shrimp, (I left the shell on)
3 small squids (remove the thin hard membrane inside - clean the body pouch inside to remove any grit)
2 tubes of extra soft tofu, sliced
3 stalks green onions, sliced
1 head of Chinese cabbage, sliced (I used a medium one)
2 tbsps of fish sauce
2 red chilli peppers
2 green chilli peppers
Dash of light soy sauce
Dash of salt
2 eggs
Dash of sesame oil


Firstly, bring the ingredients for the broth to a boil and let boil on high for 10 minutes.  Remove kelp and discard.  Turn heat to medium and boil for another 20 minutes.  Remove the shitake mushrooms and slice (use a fork to hold down the hot mushrooms).

In another pot, preferably a claypot, heat about 2 tbsps of cooking oil till hot.  Turn heat to medium.  Add the smashed garlic and saute till fragrant.  Add the chicken slices and stir-fry till half-cooked.  Add the shitake mushroom slices and continue stir-frying.  Add the gochujang and gochugaru, continue stir-frying for about another minute. 

Ladle the broth into your claypot or second pot.  Add the squid and shrimps.  Add the cabbage.  Bring to a boil again.  Add in the fish sauce.  Add the tofu and smash lightly with a spoon in the pot.  Finally, add in the chilli peppers and green onions.  Do a taste test.  Add the salt and soy sauce as necessary.  Right before serving, crack the eggs into the stew and add a dash of sesame oil.  Serve hot.

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TasteHongKong said...

You remind me of making this delicious stew again. I'm with you to have it go with noodles, or rice : ).

Lyndsey said...

What a beautiful dish. I love the looks of it! It sounds like it has such wonderful flavors going on. Our Asian sotre owners are Korean and they make lunches on Saturdays. We love going there and trying something new! Yum!

Food For Tots said...

Your Korean dishes always look delicious and interesting to me. No exception for this one. I'm so inspired to learn more about Korean food now. ;)

beyondkimchee said...

Hi there,
Your Soondubu looks delicious.
I often like when people adapt the regional recipes into their own version. Very creative.
When you fry meat and vegetable in this dish, try with some chili oil next time. It will bring nice base on the soup. Good job!

Carolyn Jung said...

I love going out for this in the winter. Nothing beats a bubbling little cauldron of tofu stew set before you at the table. Thanks for inspiring me to try making it at home.

noobcook said...

It looks deliciously spicy... great with a bowl of rice :)

tigerfish said...

I cooked a tofu stew (no particular cuisine) and cooked a napa cabbage dish as well, but all of them together does not make Soondubu! I enjoy Soondubu a lot and there is a Korean restaurant nearby which serves very good Soondubu. I usually just head down there to get my fix :)

Jen (Tastes of Home) said...

THK - hope you'll give this a try someday

Lyndsey - totally agree that Korean food is almost always so pretty

LK - hope you'll try cooking Korean food at home someday :)

Beyondkimchee - thanks for your encouraging words, I will try your suggestion next time, sounds yummy!!

Carolyn - Hope you'll give this a try, I find it extremely fun to make Korean food at home, probably also because they are almost always so colourful and pretty :) (and of course yummy)

Wiffy - thanks! It definitely goes great with rice!

TF - yeah, extra soft tofu is necessary! I love Maangchi's recipes for Korean dishes, I really enjoy cooking Korean food at home now :)

My Taste Heaven said...

love this dish! and i love tofu lots too xx

Cooking Gallery said...

I like Maangchi's recipes too :). I have never tried this dish, but it looks very delicious...!

My Asian Kitchen said...

I bought few bottles of Korean spices but I dunno what to do wt them. been sitting in my pantry for a while..actually watching kdrama make me buy all the korean spices! haha! the first korean dish I make is the I can make your soft tofu stew!! thanks!

Jen (Tastes of Home) said...

Mytasteheaven - yes if you love tofu, you would definitely love this dish!

CG - hehe, Maangchi is also very encouraging!!

MAK - thanks! hope you'll give this a try, this is such an appetizing and comforting stew :)

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