Soondubu Jjigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)
Soondubu jjigae is a spicy silken tofu soup that is perfect to make if you’re looking for some quick, comfort food.
Soondubu jjigae (순두부 찌개) is a stew (jjigae, 찌개) made with silken tofu (soondubu, 순두부), Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru, 고춧가루), dashima broth, and assorted vegetables.
While water and vegetable broth are common substitutions, I highly recommend using dashima broth in this recipe. The dashima broth base adds rich umami and depth of flavor. I like to use thisanchovy seafood dashima soup packet to make my broth.
This soondubu recipe is beef-based. However, it is also common to use seafood, pork, vegetables, kimchi and other combinations. Soondubu jjigae is also usually served with a raw egg for you to poach in the sizzling hot soup.
If you are in the mood for something less spicy, doenjang jjigae is another delicious Korean tofu soup I would recommend.
Type of Tofu for Soondubu
Soondubu (순두부) or silken tofu is very delicate due to its high water content. It almost has a custard-like consistency.
All tofu is made from coagulated soy milk. However, silken tofu is not curdled in the process. And unlike regular and firm tofu, silken tofu is unpressed and thus retains more moisture.
The spice level of soondubu depends on the amount of gochugaru or Korean red pepper flakes used in the recipe. Since the spiciness also depends on the gochugaru brand, you may have to add more or less gochugaru than as directed in the recipe. I recommend using less first and then slowly adding more to get to your desired spice level.
You’ll notice that restaurants like to serve this soup in a black earthenware bowl called ttukbaegi (뚝배기). What I really like about it is its amazing heat retention. Even off the stove, your stew will be piping hot and bubbling at your table for quite some time.
You may have noticed some restaurants serving soondubu jjigae with rice cooked in a hot stone bowl. After the perfectly steamed rice is scooped out, hot water or tea is poured over the remaining scorched rice (nurungji, 누룽지) at the bottom of the stone bowl.
As the water sits, it becomes infused with a nutty and toasted flavor. This is called sungyung (숭늉) or nurungji tea.
I love having sungyung with my soondubu jjigae. The stew itself is flavor-packed. However, this sungyung sort of acts like a palate cleanser. It washes down the spice between each sip of stew. You also get bites of cozy, toasted rice flavor that, to me, completes the meal.
When I’m making soondubu jjigae at home, I buy ready-made nurungji from my local Korean grocery store and cook it in some boiling water. Once the scorched rice is softened, it is ready to eat with some piping hot and spicy soondubu jjigae.
If you like nurungji, I recommend checking out this nurungji porridge recipe as well.
Hope you enjoy!
Other tofu recipes:
MISE EN PLACE
If you make this Soondubu Jjigae, I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment and/or recipe rating at the bottom of this page. And if you have a photo of your food, be sure to tag me on Instagram!
Soondubu Jjigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)
- ½ tsp canola or sunflower seed oil
- ¼ tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp green onions, sliced thinly (about 2 green onions)
- 1 tbsp ground beef
- 1 tsp garlic, crushed
- 1 tbsp gochugaru
- ¼ tsp coconut sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt or TT
- ½ tsp soy sauce
- 45 g zucchini, sliced (about ⅓ a zucchini)
- 28 g shiitake mushrooms, sliced (about 2 mushrooms)
- 1 cup dried anchovy and dashiki broth (see notes)
- 350 g silken tofu
- 1 egg (optional)
- Heat the ttukbaegi (or a small saucepan) over medium heat.
- Add the canola (or sunflower seed) oil and sesame oil.
- Once the oil is hot, add and sauté half of the green onions for about 30 seconds.
- Add the ground beef and saute for a couple minutes or until it's not longer pink, making sure to break apart any big chunks.
- Stir in the garlic and gochugaru.
- Slightly lower the heat, and add stir in the sugar, salt, and soy sauce.
- Add the zucchini and shiitake mushrooms and saute for another 2 minutes.
- Add the dried anchovy and dashima broth and let it come to a boil.
- Add the tofu, let it come to a boil again, and cook for another minute. (Optional: Crack a raw egg into the stew and let it poach in the soup.)
- Garnish the stew with the reserved green onions, and serve immediately.