Savory Delight: Soondubu Jigae (Korean Silken Tofu Stew)

July 13, 2023

Revealing a cherished gem from the wealth of Korean culinary delights, soondubu jigae, an irresistible spicy stew renowned for its exceptionally soft tofu, is not just a showstopper at meal times but surprisingly straightforward to whip up in your own kitchen.

Soondubu Jigae or soft tofu stew is a well-loved, spicy staple of Korean culinary culture, featuring a hearty combination of pork, kimchi, and smooth silken tofu. Topped off with a cracked egg, this is a delicious, one-pot wonder that begins with the crafting of a flavorful base stock.

Choosing the Right Cookware

Whether you have a small stockpot or a traditional Korean earthenware pot known as a ttukbaegi, Soondubu Jigae is manageable to make. Ttukbaegis are fantastic heat conductors and can go straight on the burner, and while you can find them in Korean grocery stores or online, a regular pot will also suffice. This recipe, however, is tailored to yield two hearty servings, enough to fill two small ttukbaegi pots.

Ingredients for Soondubu Jigae (Korean Silken Tofu Stew):

  • 10 large dried anchovies (cleaned and gutted)
  • ⅓ of a small daikon radish (about 5 ounces, peeled and thinly sliced)
  • A piece of dried kelp (approximately 6×4 inches)
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 5 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (divided)
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 small, thinly sliced onion
  • 1 cup of pork belly (or any pork cut, around 2-3 ounces per serving, cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 cup of roughly chopped kimchi
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of Korean chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 1 package of silken tofu (Korean brands are preferred due to their richness and density)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 diced scallion

How to Prepare the Stew

  1. Begin by crafting the anchovy stock. In a medium pot, bring water, anchovies, radish, kelp, and shiitake mushrooms to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 25 minutes.
  2. After the simmering, strain your stock, but retain the mushrooms, slicing them thinly for the Soondubu Jigae.
  3. Assemble the Soondubu Jigae. Over medium-high heat, heat up your pot or ttukbaegi—remember, earthenware pots need to heat gradually to prevent cracking.
  4. Add oil, garlic, and onions to the pot. Stir fry until the onions turn translucent. Then, turn up the heat and add the pork belly. Allow it to brown and caramelize. 5. Then, toss in the kimchi and sliced mushrooms, stirring until combined.
  5. Pour approximately 1 1/3 cups of the anchovy stock into the pot, followed by salt, sugar, Korean chili flakes, and sesame oil. Stir well.
  6. Incorporate the tofu, breaking it into large chunks. Bring the Soondubu Jigae to a boil.
  7. Crack an egg on top of each serving and cook for 1 more minute. Finally, garnish with the scallions. Serve this delectable stew with white rice and some extra kimchi on the side for a hearty meal.

Now, you’re ready to enjoy this culinary gem from the heart of Korea. The joy of making Soondubu Jigae at home lies not only in its robust, spicy flavor profile but also in the opportunity to immerse oneself in the rich tradition of Korean cooking.

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