Korean Soft Tofu Stew (Soondubu Jjigae)

5 Mar

When I saw this recipe on Serious Eats a couple of weeks back, I knew immediately I wanted to make it.  I think my mouth started watering.  I may have drooled on my keyboard in Legal Profession (though that might have been from the nap I was probably taking only moments before).  I don’t know exactly what about the recipe made me want it so badly, but I knew a trip to the Asian market was going to be in order shortly after I returned from my moot court competition.  It just looked spicy and pungent and warm and comforting and delicious.

I do not have much experience with Korean food, so I could not find gochujang in the Asian market.  We asked the really helpful lady but she didn’t know where it was, either, and I couldn’t remember if it was a spice or a sauce (it’s a sauce).  So after aimlessly wandering around the aisles for awhile we gave up and figured I could either find a substitute (which I did, check for the recipe below) or simply do without.

Zak was a little dubious about this dish because he is not a fan of kimchi, but we were both very pleasantly surprised with the amount of flavor in this recipe.  The kimchi adds a subtle layer of fermented flavor that forms the base for the salty umami of the sea kelp, anchovy, soy sauce, and fish sauce and plays well with the spicy chiles.  The tofu and egg mellow out the spice and kimchi a little bit as well as add some substance to the stew.  Zak, who has been to Korea, says it has very authentic flavors, which I consider a victory.

Korean Soft Tofu Stew (Soondubu Jjigae)

Korean Soft Tofu Stew:

Adapted from Serious Eats – J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

1 2″ square piece dried sea kept (kombu)

2-3 anchovies, finely minced

1 cup kimchi with juice

2 tsp. canola oil

3 scallions, white and green parts separated

2 cloves garlic, very finely minced

1 tbs. gochujang (the original recipe calls for this) or 1 tbs. gochujang substitute (see below)

2 tsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. fish sauce

2-3 tbs. Korean dried chili flakes (crushed red pepper can be substitued)

12 oz. soft silken tofu, roughly broken

2 eggs

Combine sea kelp and anchovies in a small sauce pan and cover with 2-3 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer and remove from heat immediately.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Strain, discarding solids and reserving broth.

Meanwhile, drain kimchi over a small bowl to reserve liquid.  Squeeze to remove as much liquid as  possible.  Roughly chop the kimchi and reserve the kimchi and juice separately.

Heat canola oil in a medium stock pot over medium high heat.  Add scallion whites, garlic, and chopped kimchi.  Cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly, until fragrant.

Add kimchi juice, gochujang or gochujang substitute, soy sauce, and fish sauce.  Cook until all vegetables are coated in an even layer of sauce.  Add strained broth, Korean chili flakes, and tofu.  Stirring gently, cook until boiling.  Taste for seasonings and add more chili or soy sauce, as necessary.

Remove from heat.  Add eggs and sprinkle with scallion greens.  Carefully stir eggs into broth (or spoon broth over the top).  Serve immediately.

Gochujang substitute:

Adapted from HannahOne.com

1 tbs. sriracha

2 tsp. miso paste

1/2 tsp. sugar

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 tsp. soy sauce

1/2 tsp. rice wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. sesame oil

Water, if necessary

Add all ingredients except water to a small boil.  Whisk together to form a paste.    If not coming together, add a small splash of water.  Let sit at least half an hour at room temperature.  Refrigerate if not using immediately.

One Response to “Korean Soft Tofu Stew (Soondubu Jjigae)”


  1. Miso-Sriracha BBQ Pulled Pork and Kimchi Sandwich « Kelseyincleveland's Blog -

    […] have a whole mess of leftover ingredients from making soondubu jjigae a bit back that inspired the “barbecue sauce” for this pulled pork sandwich.  The pork […]

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