Sundubu Jjigae – 순두부찌개 (Soft/Silken Tofu Stew) Recipe

July 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

Don’t walk away! I know, I know. Soft….tofu….stew? 

That’s the #1 reaction I have gotten from every person who has never tasted this stew before, and you know what? I completely understand. I’ve got to admit, it does not sound appetizing. But let me try to change your mind, wait, blow your mind, with one of the most delicious dishes to have been created by the Korean people.

The second reaction I’ve received (after I’ve convinced my non-Korean friends to try soft tofu stew) is “OMG…this is one of the most amazing things I have ever tasted!”

So without further ado, here is a fool-proof, restaurant-quality-guaranteed soondooboo jjigae recipe that I created. I know that by calling this recipe “restaurant-quality”, it’s giving it a lot of hype. But trust me. Once you try making this version at home, it will be difficult to go out to eat soondubu in a restaurant because you KNOW you can make it just as well at home, maybe even better.


1. The key to any delicious stew or soup is a deeply flavorful base broth. In the past, I never used “myul-chi” (Korean dried anchovies) or “dashima” (kombu or dried kelp) to flavor my soups, and ever since I made the change and substituted water for this broth, it has made a WORLD of a difference. I like to make a big batch at a time and freeze it, defrosting by the quart whenever I need to. For the anchovies, make sure the head and guts are removed prior to using.

2. If you don’t have these stove-safe stone bowls, no worries! Use any heavy-bottomed pot that can hold heat well and evenly. These stone pots were a lovely and generous wedding gift from our friends (thank you again, Park’s!) and they seem to make the stew taste better because they hold heat for so long (but be careful to heat them gradually, because any drastic temperature change will cause your bowls to crack). If you want to purchase them, you can do so here: 

3. Use whatever toppings or add-ins you desire. My favorite are dumplings, so I always keep a bag of frozen dumplings in the freezer (my absolute go-to: Gyoza) and boil them for around 10 minutes while I’m making the jjigae. You can use clams, seafood, kimchi, vegetables, mushrooms, or whatever combination you’d like.

4. Be careful not to burn the gochukaru in the oil when toasting. They can go from toasted to burned in seconds so keep a watchful eye.

5. Korean red chili flakes – gochugaru/gochkaru – cannot be substituted with any other chili flake.

6. Since I was making 2 bowls simultaneously, I divided everything in half. If making 1 pot, use the quantities below. My husband doesn’t enjoy spice as much as I do, so I do my best to protect him from my raging spice-tolerance.

7. After adding the tofu, try not to stir it around too much. The longer it cooks/the more you stir it, the more watery the soup will get from the water that is being extracted from the tofu.

8. Make rice and eat it with the stew, there’s no better combination.


Sundubu Jjigae – 순두부찌개 (Soft/Silken Tofu Stew) Recipe

Serves 2; 1 hour cooking time


  • 12 Korean dried anchovies (Myul-chi)
  • 8 small squares or 2 medium-sized pieces dashima (kombu) dried kelp
  • 3 cups water
  • 6-8 ounces sliced pork (pork butt, pork belly, pork loin)
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced finely
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • FOR VERY SPICY – 3 tbsp gochugaru
  • FOR MEDIUM SPICY – 2 tbsp gochugaru
  • FOR MILD – 2 tsp gochugaru
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp fish sauce (start with 1/2 tsp, taste, and if you need more, add up to 1/2 tsp more)
  • 1 1/2 cup dashi broth from above
  • Topping of your choice (I used 8 dumplings from my freezer that I boiled for 10 minutes)
  • 1 package sundubu cut in half
  • sea salt to taste (optional)
  • 2 egg
  • 2 green onion, sliced


  1. In a medium-sized pot, bring anchovies, dashima, and water to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes.
  2. Start preheating the stone bowls (ttukgaebi) on low heat while you prepare the pork, shallots, and garlic (around 8-10 minutes).
  3. Thinly slice the pork and set aside in a bowl. Do the same for the shallots and garlic.
  4. When the pots are hot, add the vegetable oil and lightly coat the bottom of each pot with a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the sesame oil, and add the gochugaru flakes. Watch closely, they should instantly sizzle and bubble up and smell toasty. Once lightly toasted and slightly darker red in color, add the shallots and garlic.
  6. Once the shallots and garlic are lightly cooked, add the pork. Increase heat to medium, and saute until the pork becomes golden and deeply fragrant, around 5 minutes.
  7. Add the salt and fish sauce. Stir to combine.
  8. Using a strainer, measure around 1 1/2 cups of the dashi broth and add to the pots (if using 2 bowls, around 3/4 cup per pot).
  9. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the stew to a boil. Add toppings/flavorings (if using). Add the sundubu, breaking up gently as you extract from the tube. Stir lightly into the stew and bring to a boil.
  10. Once the stew returns to a boil, around 3-4 minutes, taste and adjust for any seasonings. Turn off the heat and add green onion and egg. Serve with rice.

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