I’ve been fortunate enough that this current winter has thankfully been the mildest I’ve had in Korea yet. But we’re still talking negative double digit temps here on some nights so it’s no surprise I’ve been craving a lot of hearty and warm dishes for dinner lately.
Soondubu jjigae, or soft tofu stew, is a fine example of Korean comfort food and perfect for winter nights. Of course, even if there isn’t an arctic blast in your air outside currently, soondubu can be enjoyed in all weathers and climates.
This recipe is for a basic beef-based soondubu jjigae but it’s adaptable to your preferences and your addition/subtraction of ingredients. You can substitute the beef for shiitake mushrooms, add in some kimchi, etc.
Whatever taste you like, this is a good, basic soondubu jjigae template you can use to keep yourself warmed up as you wait out the winter!
Beef Soondubu Jjigae (소고기 순두부 찌개)
Makes approximately 2 servings
– 1 package of Soondubu (extra soft tofu)
(it usually comes in the mart in a tube shape like this:
– 1 tbsp of Sesame Oil
– 2 tbsp of Red Pepper Flakes
– 1/4 cup of Onion, chopped into small pieces
– 1/2 tbsp of minced Garlic
– 1 tbsp of Soy Sauce
– 1 tbsp of Salt
– 1 Egg
– Handful of chopped green onions
For beef and marinade:
– 1 cup of cubed Beef (usually Korean marts will sell cubed ‘stew beef’ but you can use cuts like beef skirt cut into cubes. You can also use pork)
– 1/2 tbsp of minced Garlic
– 1 tbsp of Soju
– 1.5 tbsp of Soy Sauce
– Pinch of Salt and Pepper
For the broth:
– 1 Green Onion, roughly cut into 2 inch pieces
– 1/4 Onion, chopped into small pieces
– 1/4 cup of chopped Daikon Radish, cut into squares
– 5 small pieces of Dashima
– 10 Dried Anchovies, heads and guts removed if you wish
– 5 cups of Water
1. Begin by combining all the marinade ingredients with the beef cuts, mixing and setting aside
2. Broth is the secret to any good stew and soondubu is no exception. In a pot, add in the water and all the ingredients for the broth except the dried anchovies. Bring to a boil on high heat then bring down heat to medium for the next ten minutes.
During this step, you can also add in a handful of Manila Clams or baby shrimp for added flavor and taste.
3. After ten minutes, add in your dried anchovies and continue cooking for 15-20 more minutes on medium to medium-low until you get a nice pale golden broth.
Tip: Adding in the anchovies towards the end will help bring out a cleaner tasting broth, resulting in a cleaner tasting soondubu jjigae.
Discard all the broth making ingredients and set aside the broth. You should be left with roughly 2 big cups of broth.
4. Now let’s make the seasoning for the soondubu which will be done in the pot. Begin by making the chili oil. On medium heat, add the sesame oil and red pepper flakes to make the chili oil. Stir and cook for a minute.
Note: Making the soondubu jjigae from this point in an earthenware pot will help keep the jjigae nice and bubbling from stove to table, much like it comes in restaurants. I, unfortunately, don’t have an earthenware pot anymore so if you’re like me, don’t worry about using a regular, sturdy pot.
5. Raise the heat to medium high and add in your marinated beef and onions to the same pot and mix around for another minute or two. Then add in two tbsp of the broth you just made, the minced garlic, the salt and the soy sauce. Stir and cook for another minute. Your seasoning is now ready in the pot.
6. Add in the rest of the broth, stir, and bring it to a boil on high heat. During this time, taste and adjust the broth taste to your liking.
7. Cut your soondubu in half and scoop out big spoonfuls of the soft tofu and add to the broth. Crack in your egg and lower the heat to medium.
Try and adjust the egg to let it be submerged to cook faster but resist the urge to break up the tofu. After about 3-5 minutes the soup should start to boil again. At that point, turn off the heat, add your chopped green onions, and serve immediately.
Tip: Don’t worry about feeling you have to over cook the tofu. The longer you cook the tofu, the more it will draw out the water from inside the tofu resulting in a blander soondubu jjigae. Keeping the cooking time short once you add in the soondubu will allow you to simultaneously enjoy the spicy and savory flavors of the broth as well as the mellow and creamy taste and texture of the soondubu.
Enjoy with hot rice and plenty of side dishes!