An easy Korean spicy soft tofu stew (soondubu jjigae) recipe made with an anchovy broth and loaded with pork and shrimp. The best kind of comfort food out there.
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Soondubu jjigae (aka sundubu jjigae) is a comforting spicy Korean silken tofu stew made with anchovy broth, kimchi, Korean red pepper flakes, pork belly, and soft tofu called sundubu. Traditionally, it is 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.
If you're looking for something similar to this tofu stew and just as cozy, I recommend trying our 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.
Soondubu Jjigae Ingredients
- Soondubu, Korean Soft Tofu - 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.
- Gochugaru (Korean Chili Pepper Flakes) - 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.
- Pork - I like to use pork belly for this soondubu stew, but you can also use pork shoulder or pork butt slices as well.
- Vegetables - You can use any type of mushrooms for this stew. I use zucchini but you can use mushrooms, extra onions
- Seafood - You can replace the pork belly in this recipe and use any type of seafood as well, such as shrimp, scallops, squid, oysters, mussels, or clams.
- Korean Radish - For the radish, I stayed traditional and used a Korean radish, but if you cannot find it, you can also use a daikon radish as well. 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.
- Anchovies - 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. Remove the heads before you use them.
- Shiitake mushrooms - 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.
- Dried Kelp - The kelp will add 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.
- Recipe Shortcut: Skip the step to make the seafood broth and use pre-made broth. I also provide a few other anchovy broth variations to make things quicker and easier.
- You don't need to pre-cut the soft tofu that comes in a tube. It's a delicate tofu that can be broken up gently during the cooking process when you put it directly into the stew to cook.
- If you are using the tofu that comes in tube form (sundubu), don't use the spout to get it out of the packaging, it will squeeze out a string of tofu. The easiest way to get it out is to just cut the tube right in half down the middle and squeeze it directly into the 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.
How To Make Sundubu Jjigae
- Making the Broth- Making soondubu jjigae broth is simple and only takes 30 minutes to simmer into a seafood broth. If you are pressed for time, you can use pre-made broth or use the broth variations in the section below.
- Preparation - Chop the meat, kimchi, and veggies and set them aside.
- Make the Sauce - Combine all the soondubu sauce ingredients together and put it aside for later.
- 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 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!
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)
- Other Types of Broth - use pre-made broth (any kind, seafood, vegetable, chicken, or beef)
- Water - use plain water
- Pre-packaged Anchovy Packets - boil 2 cups of water with pre-packaged anchovy packets for 10 minutes.
How To Serve Soondubu Jjigae
Here comes the fun part, garnishing your bubbling hot kimchi soondubu jjigae!
Here are a few ideas you can use to top this tofu stew but honestly, the sky's the limit!
- Sesame seeds
- Hot peppers (Jalapeno, ghost peppers, habanero peppers, etc)
- Green onions
- Toasted seaweed
- Bonito flakes
- Raw egg - A raw egg is cracked into the bowl at the very end. It is usually cooked for a minute within the stew and becomes soft boiled which gives the stew a wonderful creamy texture.
Serve it with white rice (or noodles) and if you have some banchan at home like kimchi or pickled radishes you can serve it with that too!
More Korean Recipes You May Like
- Tteokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cakes)
- 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)
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Kimchi Soondubu (Spicy Korean Soft Tofu Stew)
- 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:
- make a dashi stock by mixing 1 ½ cups of hot water with 1 ½ teaspoon of dashi powder (I highly recommend this method)
- use pre-made broth (any kind, seafood, vegetable, chicken, or beef)
- use plain water
- boil 2 cups of water with pre-packaged anchovy packets for 10 minutes.
- 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)
- 3 cups water
- 1 inch korean radish (Optional, cut into ½ inch slices)
- 1 slice ginger
- ½ onion
- 6 dried anchovies (heads removed)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 shiitake mushrooms (washed, if you're using the dried ones - soak in water for 10-15 minutes)
- 4 inch kelp (aka kombu)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
- 2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
- 2 tablespoons korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
- 1 tablespoons sesame oil
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- ½ tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon cooking sake (or sake, Chinese cooking rice wine)
- ½ onion (chopped)
- ½ lb pork shoulder (sliced or cut into small chunks)
- 10 shrimp (Optional)
- 1 cup kimchi (chopped)
- 1 package silken soft tofu (sundubu, 350g)
- 5 shiitake mushrooms (reserved from broth)
- ½ zucchini (cut into slivers)
- ½ package enoki mushrooms (cut and remove the root bottoms)
- 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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More Cozy & Comforting Recipes to Try
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- Three Cup Chicken (三杯鸡, Taiwanese San Bei Ji)
- Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)
- Chicken Khao Soi (Thai Coconut Curry Noodle Soup)
- Miso Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank Recipe
- Bangers and Mash + Stout and Onion Gravy
- Beer Braised Pork Belly (Chinese Style)
Alyssa @ A Bite of Inspiration says
Joyce, this recipe looks so SO good! I'm a huge fan of kimchi and that broth just sounds so incredibly flavorful. There's a local restaurant my parents used to like to go to for spicy Korean tofu pots, but it closed down recently. Can't wait to make these for them-- they're going to be so excited! Thanks for sharing!
Kimchi makes everything SO flavourful, right? YAY! If you make it for them, I hope they enjoy it!! 🙂
This dish is very artistic, colorful and beautiful, with very healthy ingredients. Tofu and the mushrooms are fantastic.
I would follow your recipe to do, to amaze my husband. Thank you, Joyce
I hope he likes it too! 🙂
As always, I LOVE learning about new ingredients and techniques from your recipes! Not only does this stew sound amazing, you have made it easy also. I think the longest part of making this dish for myself would be finding all the ingredients (can you come be my personal shopper??) haha. The little mushrooms, those are the enoki mushrooms? They're simply adorable and I want to make this just to have those cute little mushrooms on my kitchen counter! Thanks for another beautifully photographed and detailed recipe, Joyce!
Haha If i was in KC I'd totally go shopping with you! It's actually fun for me! No one ever believes me. Yup those are enoki mushrooms! They go great in soupy things and even omelettes! Definitely a favourite around here. I am so touched and happy to hear you love learning from here. ::blush:: You are too kind! 🙂
mikaela | wyldflour says
I love the step-by-step on this recipe! I'm not gonna lie . . . I see asian food and immediately think it's going to be too difficult. I don't even know WHY--it's just this mental block when I see ingredients that I'm not used to. But your step-by-step breaks it down so well! And it looks so freaking delicious. (And I LOVE spicy tofu.) This stew would be perfect for the upcoming cold front in Denver . . .
Oh haha don't worry Mikaela, I live and breathe asian food and I still get intimidated and confused haha. I am constantly learning new things - there's just SO MUCH things right?
I'm so happy to hear the steps break down helped! I was having a mental breakdown trying to figure out how to easily break this up without confusing everyone and the funny thing is it's not even a very complex recipe! Oh English. Haha! 🙂
Alison @ The Sunday Glutton says
I really appreciate all the detail you've gone into on this post. It's so helpful to understanding and appreciating the dish. I definitely have to check out my local specialty stores - this looks so authentic and delicious!! Hubby is a HUGE kimchi fan, so he'll be happy!
Thanks Alison! I know whenever I have so many ingredients to work with I like to break it down into steps so I'm always happy to hear that it helps others too. It's easy to get overwhelmed in the kitchen and miss steps or ingredients. 🙂 You can even simplify this and omit the silken tofu and just add the kimchi and veg and meats! 🙂
romain | glebekitchen says
I don't think this would be too much work at all. It looks totally worth it to me. I need to take a trip down to the Korean market for some of the ingredients (and one of those dolsot bowls) but that's fun anyway. This is a super informative post. Thanks for putting the time in to teach. It's appreciated! One question - you mention you can substitute pre-fab broth but I didn't see what type of broth?
It is fun isn't it? I still find it fun to just roam around the isles of international supermarkets. 🙂 For the broth you can use any kind and it will turn out just as fantastic. 🙂 and thank you for your kind words Romain.
heather (delicious not gorgeous) says
ooo ? i usually don't get this when i go out for korean because it's too hot and i'm impatient, but this sounds delicious! and i love that you served it with banchan, since that's probably my favorite part of getting korean food.
Banchan is definitely my favourite part of Korean food. The weather here was -20 last week and I simply needed something warm and spicy to take the chill out of my bones lol