This Soondubu Jjigae recipe will give you a delicious and easy Korean spicy soft tofu stew made with an anchovy broth. It’s loaded with pork and shrimp for the best kind of comfort food out there! If you’ve always wanted to make a delicious Korean dish, then this is the one you need to try!
Table of Contents
- What is Soondubu Jjigae?
- Korean Earthenware Bowls
- Why You’ll Love This Soondubu Recipe
- Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Soondubu Jjigae
- How to Make Soondubu Jjigae (Step by Step)
- Joyce’s Tips For Making the Best Soondubu
- Anchovy Stock Variations
- Serving Suggestions
- Recipe Variation Ideas for Soondubu Jjigae
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How to Store Leftover Soondubu
- Recipes To Use Up Leftover Kimchi
- More Korean Recipes You May Like
- Did You Make This Recipe?
- Recipe Card
- More Cozy & Comforting Recipes to Try
Soondubu (sundubu) is a traditional spicy Korean silken tofu stew that’s made with savory ingredients such as anchovy broth, kimchi, pork belly, and soft tofu. The great thing about Soondubu is its versatility. You can easily customize it to your liking, making it a great dish to whip up in your kitchen at home.
If you're looking for something similar to this tofu stew and just as cozy, I recommend trying my Tteokbokki (Spicy Korean Rice Cakes) recipe that can be ready in 30 minutes or less and has that satisfying chew that all rice cakes have.
Read on to learn exactly how to make this delicious soondubu recipe today!
What is Soondubu Jjigae?
Soondubu, also known as Sundubu Jjigae or soft tofu stew, is a staple Korean dish that is both hearty and comforting. This popular recipe is essentially a spicy stew made from silken tofu and various vegetables and often includes meat and seafood. It’s typically served with rice on the side to balance out the heat and absorb the flavorful broth.
Traditionally, it’s made and served in an earthenware stone bowl, which insulates the stew and keeps it very hot longer, so you can enjoy the stew slowly with a bowl of rice.
Soondubu Jjigae is a perfect dish to make at home because it is a one-pot recipe, making it convenient and easy to clean up. When it comes to taste, this dish truly delivers. The soft tofu, combined with the rich, spicy broth, creates a delightful contrast of textures and flavors.
Nothing truly beats a hot, hearty stew on a chilly day and when it's served in a sizzling hot pot with freshly cooked rice. This is the ultimate comfort food, with hearty flavors to lift your spirits. Trust me, you’re going to love this Korean stew!
Korean Earthenware Bowls
Traditionally, soondubu is cooked and served in Korean earthenware stone bowls called ttukbaegi. These Korean stone bowls are thick (approximately ½ inch thick) and can retain heat to keep your soups and stews hotter, and longer.
If you can't find these bowls you can use a regular pot. The only difference is you may need to adjust the cooking time because the recipe will cook a lot faster since regular pots are thinner.
Why You’ll Love This Soondubu Recipe
Classic Delicious Flavors: Loaded with flavorful ingredients like pork, shrimp, and kimchi and served over warm rice, this soft tofu stew is a dish that the whole family will love. Plus, it is a great way to introduce them to Korean cuisine.
Versatile: This recipe is adaptable to suit your personal preferences. Not a fan of pork or shrimp? Swap them out for your preferred protein. You can even adjust the spice level to your liking. The possibilities are endless!
Crowd Pleaser: Whether you're hosting a dinner party or bringing a dish to a potluck, this soft tofu stew is sure to impress. It is a unique dish that stands out from the usual fare, but it’s also familiar and comforting, making it a hit with just about everyone!
Warm and Cozy Meal: This is the perfect cozy meal, and is especially great on colder seasons like Autumn and Winter. If you are looking for the ultimate comfort food, this would be it.
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Soondubu Jjigae
All you need are some incredibly simple, pantry-staple ingredients to make this delicious soondubu recipe at home.
Here's an overview of the specific ingredients for this recipe. For the exact ingredients and measurements, please scroll to the recipe card below.
For the Broth:
- Korean Radish: This optional ingredient adds a unique sweetness to the broth. If you can't find it, you can replace it with a daikon radish. Keep in mind that Korean radishes are sweeter and have a milder radish flavor. They are thicker in size and have a more prominent greenness at the top half.
- Ginger: Gives a subtle spicy flavor to the broth, enhancing its overall taste.
- Dried Anchovies: They are the backbone of the broth, providing a deep umami flavor. You can replace them with a dashi stock or pre-made broth for a quicker stew. These are dried and can usually be found in the refrigerator section in Korean supermarkets, not to be confused with the anchovies in oil. Remove the heads before you use them.
- Garlic: Adds a strong, spicy, garlic flavor to the broth.
- Shiitake Mushrooms: These mushrooms are used in both the broth and the stew. They add a meaty and earthy flavor, enhancing the overall dish. In this recipe, 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 flavorful broth.
- Kelp: This is used in the broth to add an extra umami flavor to the broth. No need to soak it ahead of time. You can rinse it over the sink and put it directly in the broth.
For the Soondubu Sauce:
- Fish Sauce: This is used in the Soondubu sauce to provide a deep umami flavor. Soy sauce can also be used as a substitute.
- Garlic: It adds a delicious, savory, and spicy flavor to the sauce that takes it to the next level.
- Korean Red Pepper Flakes: They add a spicy kick to the Soondubu sauce. Korean chili flakes are usually found in the dried spices aisle. You can buy this mild or spicy. If you don't know if it's spicy, ask the store clerk for some help. Make sure you are not getting goun gochurgaru, which is a finer powder that is used to make gochujang.
- Sesame Oil: Adds a nutty flavor to the Soondubu sauce.
- Sugar: Balances out the spicy and salty flavors in the sauce.
- Sesame Seeds: These are used in the sauce and also as a garnish. They add a slight crunch and a nutty flavor.
- Cooking Sake: This rice wine adds a bit of sweetness and complexity to the sauce.
For the Stew:
- Onion: Used in the broth and stew, onion adds a sweet flavor that compliments the spicy and savory elements of the dish.
- Pork: This meat adds a hearty and savory flavor to the stew. I like to use pork belly for this soondubu stew, but you can also use pork shoulder or pork butt slices as well.
- Shrimp: An optional ingredient that lends a sweet and slightly briny taste to the stew and a delicious bite. You can replace the pork belly in this recipe and use any type of seafood as well, such as scallops, squid, oysters, mussels, or clams.
- Kimchi: This fermented cabbage adds a tangy, spicy, and umami flavor to the stew.
- Soondubu (Silken Soft Tofu:) The star of the dish, this tofu is silky and soft, absorbing all the flavors of the stew. Traditionally, soondubu is made with silken tofu which comes in a tube. It is softer in texture than the traditional and more common square soft tofu you can find at regular grocery stores. That being said you can definitely still use the traditional square soft tofu for soondubu - just make sure it's soft and not medium or hard tofu.
- Zucchini: Adds a refreshing crunch and lightness to the heavy stew.
- Enoki Mushrooms: These mushrooms add a unique texture and a mild flavor to the stew.
For the Garnishes:
- Eggs: A raw egg is cracked into the stew just before serving. If you're not a fan of raw egg, you can fry a sunny-side-up egg and add that on top instead!
- Green Onions: Used as a garnish, they add a bright, fresh flavor and color to the stew.
- Toasted Sesame Seeds: They are used as a garnish, adding a slight crunch and a nutty flavor to the finished dish.
How to Make Soondubu Jjigae (Step by Step)
Making this incredible soondubu recipe at home is super easy and will give you great results every single time. Here's how to make it step by step:
Making the Broth
Prepare your Ingredients: Start by removing the heads from your dried anchovies and discard the heads.
Slice a one-inch piece of Korean radish into half-inch pieces, and set aside.
Soak five shiitake mushrooms in warm water for about ten to fifteen minutes.
Slice a piece of ginger and set it aside. Peel three cloves of garlic, keep them whole and set them aside.
Peel and cut half an onion and set it aside.
Lastly, cut a four-inch piece of kelp and set it aside.
Boil your Broth Ingredients: In a pot, combine three cups of water, your prepped Korean radish, ginger, onion, dried anchovies, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, and kelp. Bring this to a boil on medium heat with the lid on for approximately twenty to thirty minutes.
Strain your Broth: Once your broth is done, strain out the ingredients but keep the shiitake mushrooms. Cut them into smaller pieces for the stew. Set the broth and shiitake aside. Alternatively, you can use a pre-made broth as a shortcut.
Preparing the Main Ingredients
Slice your Pork and Vegetables: Slice half a pound of pork belly into small bite-sized pieces and set aside. Also, slice half an onion and half a zucchini and set them aside. Optionally, you can chop a cup of kimchi into smaller pieces and set it aside.
Making the Sauce
Combine your Sauce Ingredients: Finely mince cloves of garlic and add it to a small bowl. Combine this with fish sauce (or soy sauce), Korean pepper flakes, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds, and cooking sake (or Chinese cooking rice wine). Mix these ingredients together and set the sauce aside.
Making the Soondubu Jjigae
Cook your Onion and Pork: Set your stove to medium heat and place your pot on the stove. Once the pot is hot, add in oil, and cook the onion and pork belly for about five minutes or until the pork is no longer pink.
Add in your Other Ingredients: Add in the one to one and a half cups of broth, your prepared sauce, kimchi, zucchini, and shiitake mushrooms and cook for five minutes.
Add in Tofu, Mushrooms, and shrimp: Once the broth is at a low rolling boil, add in the tofu, enoki mushrooms, and shrimp. Break the tofu into large chunks gently and cook for two minutes.
Add the Egg: Gently add the raw egg on top and let it simmer for one to two minutes before turning off the heat.
Finish and Serve: Carefully remove the bowl from the stove (it will be very hot, so use oven mitts!), and garnish with green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
Serve your delicious soondubu jjigae immediately, preferably with some rice. Enjoy your homemade Korean soft tofu stew!
Joyce’s Tips For Making the Best Soondubu
Broth Shortcut: Skip the step to make the seafood broth and use pre-made broth. I also provide a few other anchovy broth variations below to make things quicker and easier.
Cut the Silken Tofu Tube in Half: If you are using the tube soft tofu, don't use the spout to remove the tofu from the packaging. Cut the tube in half down the middle and gently squeeze the tofu out that way. If you are using soft tofu (not the tube kind) then scoop large chunks into the stew instead of cutting it because it is very delicate and hard to handle.
Consider Your Garnishes: Garnishing your dish with eggs, toasted sesame seeds and finely chopped green onions not only adds to the presentation but also introduces extra flavors and textures.
Make Use of Leftover Broth: If you end up with leftover broth, don't throw it away! You can use it as a flavorful starter for other soups or dishes.
Control Your Heat: Sundubu Jjigae is best cooked at medium heat. This allows the ingredients to cook thoroughly without burning them or overcooking the tofu and shrimp.
Anchovy Stock Variations
If you are pressed for time or you don't want to make the broth from scratch, here are some other variations you can use to make this soondubu recipe even quickly
- Dashi Powder - Make a dashi stock by mixing 1 ½ cups of hot water with 1 ½ teaspoon of dashi powder (I highly recommend this method because of the extra umami and smoky flavor)
- Other Types of Broth - Use the standard pre-made broth instead. Any kind will work, you can use seafood, vegetable, chicken, or beef.
- Water - Use plain water, your soup will still turn out delicious because of the sauce and the kimchi.
- Pre-packaged Anchovy Packets - Boil 2 cups of water with pre-packaged anchovy packets for 10 minutes.
- For a wholesome meal, enjoy a bowl of Soondubu Jjigae with a side of warm, steamed rice. The soft tofu stew, rich with flavors of sesame oil and kimchi, pairs perfectly with the plain rice.
- Want to make your Soondubu Jjigae a full meal? Serve it with assorted Korean banchan, like Pickled Daikon Radish or Korean Cucumber Salad. The tangy crunch of these side dishes compliments the soft and spicy stew beautifully.
- Another great banchan that will take this meal to the next level is some Japchae (Korean glass noodles). This vegetarian chap chae goes beautifully with soondubu jjigae.
- This delicious Soondubu also goes great with some roasted okra. The umami flavors of the glaze go beautifully with this Korean stew.
Recipe Variation Ideas for Soondubu Jjigae
This delicious soondubu recipe is so flavorful and easy to make you'll want to try out some of these delicious variations! Here are some great ideas:
Anchovy Broth Variation: If you don’t want to make the broth from scratch, you can make it using dashi stock, pre-made broth, plain water, and pre-packaged anchovy packets. Check out the notes in the recipe card for more instructions.
Sunny Side Up Egg: In case you’re not a fan of the raw egg, you can fry a sunny-side egg and add that on top instead. It’ll taste just as tasty, trust me!
Go Egg-less: If you're not a fan of raw or soft-cooked eggs, you can omit the egg from the recipe. Instead, garnish your sundubu jjigae with extra green onion for added freshness and color.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! If you're short on time, you can use pre-made broth, dashi stock, or even plain water instead of making the broth from scratch. You can also use pre-packaged anchovy packets to flavor the water. Check out the recipe card for more details.
Yes, you can. If you're not a fan of the raw egg, you can fry a sunny-side-up egg and add that on top instead. It is just as tasty and adds a nice touch to the dish.
If you can't find Korean Stone Bowls, you can use any pot. The key is to keep the stew simmering hot when you serve it, so a small cast-iron pot would be a great alternative. If you can't find a cast-iron pot, any pot will do, it just won't keep the soup warm for a long period of time, but if you eat fast that won't matter anyway!
Absolutely! This recipe is quite flexible. You can add other vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, or spinach, depending on your preference. Just remember to adjust the cooking time accordingly to make sure that all the ingredients are cooked properly.
How to Store Leftover Soondubu
Before storing your leftover soondubu jjigae, allow it to cool down to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer it into an airtight container. It’s important to use an airtight container to keep the flavors of the stew intact and to avoid any unwanted fridge odors from seeping into your dish.
The fridge is the best place to store your leftover sundubu jjigae. It should be good for up to three to five days when properly refrigerated. When you're ready to enjoy your soondubu jjigae again, simply reheat it over medium heat on the stove.
You can also microwave it, but be sure to stir it at every 1 minute intervals to avoid drying it out and to ensure it heats through evenly.
I don’t recommend freezing this dish since the soft tofu doesn’t freeze well and can become grainy and lose its soft, silky texture.
Recipes To Use Up Leftover Kimchi
More Korean Recipes You May Like
- Tuna Mayo Deopbap (Korean Tuna Rice Bowl)
- Korean Fried Popcorn Turkey
- Japchae (Korean Glass Noodles Stir Fry)
- Spicy Korean Pork Bulgogi
- Korean Corn Cheese (Elote Style)
- Korean Cucumber Salad (Oi Muchim)
- Tteokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cakes)
Did You Make This Recipe?
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Kimchi Soondubu (Spicy Korean Soft Tofu Stew)
Joyce's Recipe Notes
- Anchovy Broth Variations: If you don't want to make the broth from scratch, you can use these instead to make this tofu stew more quickly:
- If you are not a fan of the raw egg, you can fry a sunny-sided egg and add that on top instead! Just as tasty!
- If you are using the tube soft tofu, don't use the spout to remove the tofu from the packaging. Cut the tube in half down the middle and gently squeeze the tofu out that way.
- If you can't find the Korean Stone Bowls locally, you can pick them up here.
Broth (makes about 2 cups of broth, see notes for variations)
- 1 eggs
- toasted sesame seeds
- 3 stalks green onions (finely chopped)
Making the Broth
- Remove the heads from 6 anchovies and set them aside.
- Cut 1 inch of Korean radish, slice them into ½ inch pieces and set aside.
- Rinse and soak 5 shiitake mushrooms in warm water for 10-15 minutes.
- Cut 1 slice of ginger and set it aside
- Peel 3 cloves of garlic, keep it whole and set it aside
- Peel and cut ½ an onion and set it aside.
- Cut a 4 inch piece of kelp and set it aside.
- In a pot, combine 3 cups of water, Korean radish, ginger, onion, dried anchovies, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, and kelp into a pot and boil for approximately 20-30 mins on medium heat with a lid on.
- When the broth is done, strain out the ingredients but keep the shiitake mushrooms and cut them into smaller pieces for the stew. Set the broth and shiitake aside.
- [Optional Shortcut] Instead of making the broth, you can also use pre-made broth.
- Slice ½ lb pork belly into small bite-sized pieces and set aside.
- Slice ½ onion and ½ zucchini and set them aside
- (Optional) Chop 1 cup of kimchi into smaller pieces and set them aside.
Make the Sauce
- Finely mince the 2 cloves of garlic and add it to a small bowl.
- Add 2 tablespoons of fish sauce (or soy sauce), 2 tablespoons of Korean pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, ½ tablespoon of sugar, ½ tablespoon of sesame seeds, and 1 tablespoon of cooking sake (or Chinese cooking rice wine) to a small bowl and mix it with the garlic. Set it aside.
Making the Soondubu Jjigae
- Set the stove to medium heat and place the earthenware bowl or a pot on the stove.
- Once the pot is hot, add in oil, and cook the onion and pork belly for about 5 minutes or until the pork is no longer pink.
- Add in the 1-1½ cups of broth, sauce, kimchi, zucchini, and shiitake mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes
- Once the broth is at a low rolling boil, add in the tofu, enoki mushrooms, and shrimp. Gently break the tofu into large chunks and cook for 2 minutes
- Gently add the raw egg on top and simmer it for 1-2 minutes and turn off the heat.
- Remove the bowl (be very careful it's very hot! Wear oven mitts!) from the stove and garnish with green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
- Serve immediately and enjoy with some rice!
*Nutritional information is calculated using online tools and is an estimate*
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