How can you resist a piping hot and bubbling spicy kimchi tofu stew made with a seafood broth chocked full of pork and shrimp in this wet and cold weather? Comfort food, right there.
Winter is starting to die down here in Canada. At least it looks like it with the snow melting away and a few green buds popping out of shrubbery but then again the weather is usually finicky this time of year and I wouldn’t be surprised if an angry snowstorm decides to charge through here again. Oh mother nature…
When it’s wet, soggy and cold out things start to really feel gray around here, even Oscar seems a bit off and down in the dumps – refusing to eat or play. Quiet evenings indoors with hot bowls of comfort foods are relished and mandatory here, so when an old friend Anthony suggested making Soondubu Jjigae for this weather I was delighted at the idea!
WHAT IS IT?
Soondubu means soft/silken tofu and jjigae means stew. Essentially it’s a piping hot and slightly spicy stew made with soft tofu and served in a earthenware stone bowl.
The unique characteristics of these stone bowls are the thick walls (approximately 1/2 inch thick) that can retain heat, so when the stew is served at the table it stays piping hot longer.
If you can’t find these bowls you can use a regular pot for this recipe as well. The only difference is, the recipe will cook a lot faster since the pot walls are thinner and when you serve it you will pour it out of the pot into a serving bowl and it won’t be able to retain the heat as long but it will not compromise the flavour. 🙂
Most of these ingredients can be found at an Asian grocery store.
Traditionally, the tubed soft tofu is used in Soondubu. It is softer in texture than the cubed ones but if the cubed ones are all you can find then you can use that instead – just make sure it’s soft and not medium or hard.
Tip #1: If you are using the tofu that come in tube form, don’t use the spout to get it out of the packaging. That will result in strings of goop (the tofu is very soft). The easiest way to get it out is to just cut the tube right in half and the squeeze directly into the stew.
For the shiitake mushrooms, I used dried ones which require a good rinse and 10-15 minutes of soak time in cold or warm water. Fresh shiitake can be used as well and will produce an even more flavourful broth.
Korean pepper flakes are usually found in the dried spices aisle. I find it quite mild in spiciness but it provides a nice peppery flavour. If you are looking for more heat in your stew, I’d suggest adding a few tablespoons of Sambal Oelek into the stew.
Most of these ingredients can be found in an Asian grocery store.
For the radish, I stayed traditional and used a Korean radish and did not use a daikon radish. Korean radishes are sweeter and have milder radish flavour. They are thicker in size and have a more prominent greeness at the top half. However if you can only find daikon that works as well, it will just produce a stronger tasting broth.
The anchovies for the broth are dried and can usually be found in the refrigerator section, not to be confused with the anchovies in oil.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
I know what you’re thinking.
“Are you serious, Joyce? This recipe looks SO complicated with all those ingredients! Cripes! No thanks!”
When I was putting this post together I was honestly feeling the same way but it’s actually not that bad and there is a way to simplify it. Trust me on this! 🙂
Let’s break this down to 4 steps:
- Making the Broth– Making the broth is simple, you throw the broth ingredients in a pot and away we go. If you have the time, it takes about 30 mins and produces a wonderfully scented and flavoured seafood broth. If you are pressed for time, you can use pre-made broth – any kind. (Note: Don’t discard the shiitake mushrooms after the broth has been made, chop them up and keep them aside to add to the stew)
- Preparation – The only preparation you will have to do is chopping of the meat, kimchi and veggies and combining the sauce ingredients into a bowl and setting it aside. You can skip the sauce making step and just throw the ingredients directly into the bowl as you’re cooking but I find that I tend to forget ingredients that way so it’s just easier for me to have it prepped and waiting to be used.
- Cooking – This is all done in the stone bowl (or pot) in this order:
- Add the sesame oil, kimchi, sauce and onions into the stone bowl over medium heat and cook it for about 5 minutes
- Add in the meat and shiitake mushrooms and cook it until it is almost done. Depending on how thick you cut the pork, this will take approximately 5 minutes.
- Add in the broth and bring it to up to a low boil. Then, add in the shrimp and tofu and cook it for 2-3 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, add in the raw egg and let it sit for 1 minute.
- Toppings and Serve – At this point, the stew is done! Just add in the toppings and serve right away with side dishes or rice!
Tip #2 : If you don’t have the time or energy and you just want this on the table in 20 minutes then the best way to simplify it is to use pre-made broth.
Tip #3 : Soft tofu is very delicate, especially the ones that come in the tube. When you put it in the stew break it up into larger chunks. The cooking and stirring process will break it down further and some of it will melt into the stew. So you don’t need to pre-cut it, it can go directly into the stew and broken up with utensil directly in the stew.
That’s all there is to it!
Here comes to fun part, garnishing it!
Here are a few ideas you can use to top this stew but the sky’s the limit!
- Sesame seeds
- Hot peppers (Jalapeno, ghost peppers, habanero peppers etc)
- Green onions
- Toasted seaweed
- Bonito flakes
- Enoki mushrooms
Traditionally, a raw egg is cracked into the bowl at the very end to give the stew a bit more substance. It is usually cooked for a few seconds within the stew and broken into the stew for a creamier texture. However, if raw eggs make you cringe a fried egg is just as good – if not more delicious! 🙂
If you’re wondering why I didn’t cook the zucchini and why I used it as a topping? I prefer raw zucchini as it has a bit of a crunch – more texture is good! You can cut them into slices and cook them in the stew if that is your preference.
Enoki mushrooms give a nice crunch and literally take 10-20 seconds to cook, so instead of putting it directly in the stew and having it go mushy and wilty, I opted to keep it as a topping to put in at the end! Don’t worry, the stew will still be hot, so it will get cooked.
Disclaimer: As with most of my posts, I provide affiliate links to make items easier to find if you cannot purchase this locally. I would never recommend anything I don’t own myself or highly recommend, but I would prefer you buy your items locally to support your stores (and chances are they are cheaper locally!) 🙂
A hot and bubbling spicy kimchi tofu stew made with a seafood broth chocked full of pork and shrimp. Perfect for the cold weather.
- 6 cups water
- 3 inch korean radish (thick slice)
- 2 slices ginger
- 1/2 onion
- 8-10 dried anchovies (optional: heads removed)
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 4-5 shiitake mushrooms (washed and soaked for 10-15 mins)
- 4 inch kelp
- 4 tbsp fish sauce (or soy sauce)
- 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 4 tbsp korean red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp sake (or asian cooking wine)
- 1-2 tbsp sambal oelek (optional : to increase the spiciness)
- 1/2 onion (chopped)
- 1/2 lb pork shoulder (sliced or cut into small chunks)
- 10 shrimp
- 1-2 cups kimchi
- 2 tubes soft tofu (or 2 small bricks)
- 4-5 shiitake mushrooms (chopped, from the broth)
- 1 package enoki mushrooms (remove the root bottoms)
- 3 stalks green onions
- 1 zucchini (cut into slivers)
- sesame seeds
- 2 egg
In a pot, combine the ingredients under the broth ingredient list into a pot and boil for approximately 30 mins on medium heat.
When the broth is done, strain out the ingredients but reserve the shiitake mushrooms for the stew. Set the broth aside for the stew.
[Optional Shortcut] Instead of making the broth, you can also use pre-made broth.
Combine the sauce ingredients from the ingredient list and set aside.
Chop the kimchi, onions and shiitake mushroom and set aside.
Slice the pork into small bite sized pieces (or bite sized chunks) and set aside.
Set the stone bowl (or pot) on the stove on medium heat.
Add in the sesame oil, the sauce, onions and kimchi and cook for 5 minutes or until the onions are soft.
Add in the pork and shiitake and cook it until the meat is cooked (approximately 5 minutes depending on how thick you cut the pork)
Add in the broth and bring it to a low boil (approximately 3-5 minutes)
Once the broth is at a low rolling boil, add in the tofu and shrimp. Gently break the tofu into large chunks and cook for 2 minutes
Turn off the heat and add the raw egg and let it sit for 1 minute.
Remove the bowl (be very careful its very hot! Wear oven mitts!) from the stove and add the enoki mushrooms, zucchini and additional garnishes!
Serve immediately and enjoy with some rice! 🙂
- If you are not a fan of the raw egg, you can fry the egg on the side and add that on top when it's done! Just as tasty!
- For a quicker and simpler recipe, skip making the broth and use pre-made broth. This will cut the recipe time by 20-30 minutes, but if you have the time to invest in the broth I'd highly recommend it! 🙂
- If you can't find Korean radish for the broth, you can substitute it with daikon radish but the flavours will be stronger.
- If you are using the tube soft tofu, don't use the spout to remove the tofu out of the packaging. Cut the tube in half down the middle and gently squeeze the tofu out that way.