Hi! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas full of good cheer and all the best kinds of food! I can’t believe Christmas is over for another year and the new year is fast approaching. We’re getting into deep winter. It’s super cold outside and all I want to do is hibernate and eat all the cozy winter foods. I think I’m pretty much in love with winter because it means there’s lots of staying inside, keeping warm, and eating. The name of the game is keeping warm and the best way to keep warm is to eat spicy things, am I right?

One of my all time favorite spicy things to eat is sundubu jjigae, or spicy tofu stew. It’s super easy to make, once you have all the ingredients and it comes together in a flash.

What is Sundubu Jjigae/Spicy Kimchi Soft Tofu Stew?

Sundubu jjigae is a korean stew that’s made with soft tofu. In Korean, sundubu is soft tofu and jjigae is stew, thus soft tofu stew! I kind of think of it more as soup then stew but I guess that’s a question of what one considers a soup versus a stew. Anyway, the soft tofu that’s used in this stew is the kind that comes in a tube, not the kind that’s in a rectangle/square. It’s extra soft, really mild and so good. You’ll find it at the Asian grocery store in the tofu section, next to all the tofus. It pairs perfectly with the spiciness of the soup, adding a kind of cooling counterpoint to the spiciness. Sundubu is super warming, comforting, and perfect for winter.

Warm and comforting sundubu jjigae/spicy kimchi soft tofu stew #kimch #tofu #korean #recipes #dinner #soup #stew #tofustew #tofusoub

What special ingredients do I need?

Well, the truth is, you will need some special ingredients. But once you have the core ingredients, it’s really easy to make this stew all the time. If your pantry’s stocked with dashi and gochugaru and you’re pretty much good to go; you’ll just need kimchi and tofu, which are pretty much available at most grocery stores these days.

Dashi – Technically, sundubu uses a Korean anchovy stock, made from tiny dried anchovies, but we’re going to use Japanese instant dashi. If you want to be as close as you can to the Korean anchovy stock, go for iriko or niboshi dashi which is the Japanese equivalent. If you can’t find iriko/niboshi dashi, regular dashi (which is made from dried bonito and kombu) will be just as delicious. Instant dashi is readily available online at at Asian grocery stores. It’s really easy to make – it either comes in granules that dissolve in hot water or in a tea bag that you soak.

Gochugaru – Korean red chili pepper flakes are coarsest ground red pepper that are not anything like those red pepper flakes you see in shakers at Italian restaurants. Instead of seeds and skins, they’re more of a flake/powder. The taste hot, sweet, and a little bit smoky. It’s pretty much used in all Korean cooking, so if you’re planning on diving into Korean food, it’s a pantry must. They sell it at Asian grocery stores and online.

For the tofu and kimchi, you’ll be able to find these almost anywhere but if you’re at the Asian grocery store, be sure to pick up sundubu, which is soft tofu found in a tube. You can definitely just use whatever tofu you like and it’ll taste good, but if you’re going for a classic sundubu, the tube tofu is what you want. As for kimchi, there are a ton of brands out there. I tend to always buy a Korean brand, just cause, well, kimchi is Korean!

Warm and comforting sundubu jjigae/spicy kimchi soft tofu stew #kimch #tofu #korean #recipes #dinner #soup #stew #tofustew #tofusoub

Substitutions
If you want this spicy soup but don’t have time/want to make the effort, you can cheat it a little. Use chicken stock instead of dashi, regular tofu instead of soft tofu, and whatever sort or protein you want. Sundubu is pretty much with all proteins, from seafood to chicken, so you can feel free to go wild.

What to eat it with
It usually comes with a bowl of rice and, if you’re lucky, a raw egg that’s dropped right into the boiling hot soup. I like it on it’s own too, when I’m going low-carb. And when I’m not, I’ve been known to have it with noodles or even pasta!

Warm and comforting sundubu jjigae/spicy kimchi soft tofu stew #kimch #tofu #korean #recipes #dinner #soup #stew #tofustew #tofusoub

Kimchi Sundubu Jjigae: Spicy Kimchi Tofu Stew

A warm and spicy comforting Korean tofu stew
Serves 2 generously
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins

Ingredients

  • oil for the pan
  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 lb pork belly/side pork cut into 1 inch strips
  • 1-2 tbsp gochugaru/Korean red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 cup kimchi
  • 4 cups dashi
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar or to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tube soft tofu
  • egg yolk if desired
  • rice to serve if desired

Instructions

  • In a small pot, heat up the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, until soft but not brown.
  • Stir in the pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly browned, 3-4 minutes.
  • Stir in the gochugaru and kimchi.
  • Add the dashi and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil and sugar. Taste and season with salt.
  • Stir in the tofu, in large pieces and let simmer for 5 minutes. If desired, add a raw egg to stir into the stew while it’s still boiling hot. Enjoy with rice!

3 Comments

  1. Cynthia says:

    I’ve made this several times this year from a few different recipes. I look forward to trying your version. Thank you.

  2. DJ says:

    Turned out great w the following cheats: stirred in anchovy paste into a chicken broth, substituted bacon for pork belly and used soft tofu cubed. Hope to see Momofuku in DC reopened soon.

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Thanks for reading as always!
-Steph & Mike