Whenever a large group of my friends are deciding on where to go for dinner it usually comes down to Korean BBQ or soon dubu. Soon dubu jjigae is a Korean tofu stew with beef, kimchi, seafood or other fillings and served with a side of rice. It can be extremely spicy or mild, depending on your preference, and it is always served piping hot in a stoneware pot. Crack an egg while it is still bubbling hot and enjoy with the various side dishes, or banchan, that is often served alongside the stew. I’ve discovered that almost everyone who is introduced to this particular Korean dish becomes a fan. From those who never heard of soon dubu to those who aren’t particularly fond of tofu, they all leave the restaurant satisfied. I can never resist a bowl of this tofu stew rain or shine! Here is my version using a different but equally delicious filling, dumpling soon dubu jjigae.
- 3 cups water
- 10 dried anchovy
- 1/2 onion, peeled, left whole
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled, left whole
- 2 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 3x3 inch square dried kelp
- 6 dumplings
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup kimchi, roughly chopped
- 2-5 tbsp Korean chili flakes (depending on how spicy you want)
- 2 cups stock
- 2 tubes soon tofu
- 2 tbsp fish stock
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 eggs
- chopped green onion for garnish
- Combine water with remaining ingredients for the stock in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 25 minutes. Strain the stock, discarding the aromatics. Set aside.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the dumplings and cook until the dumplings are soft and float to the top, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a medium sauce pot over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, kimchi and chili flakes. As a guideline, 2 tbsp is mild while 5 extra spicy. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute.
- Pour the reserved stock and bring to a boil. Add tofu, breaking up the large pieces with a wooden spoon. Season stew with fish stock, soy sauce and black pepper. Stir to combine and let simmer 5 minutes. Add dumplings and cook another minute. Crack eggs directly into the pot and garnish with green onions. Serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
The most common version of soon dubu is prepared with ground beef but my personal favorite is the seafood. It wasn’t until my significant other started ordering dumpling soon dubu that I even knew this option was available. Usually the dumpling version served at restaurants do not have meat but I knew I had to add in some beef to the mix.
Start by making the broth. I’ve seen others make this stew just by adding water, but trust me, making the broth makes a difference in the flavor. Unlike chicken broth or beef broth, this variation only takes 30 minutes – so there’s really no excuse for skipping this step!
Once the broth is done, it’s just a matter of cooking the dumplings and tofu. Just think of this as any other soup and you’ll be able to tackle the recipe.
Locate the soon dubu tofu in any Korean markets. This specific type is more custard-like than others; do not substitute with any other tofu! To open the package, cut a slit on the dotted lines (located in the back), and squeeze out the tofu. You’ll immediately notice how soft and smooth the tofu is compared to other types.
When adding in the chili flakes, adjust according to how spicy you want your soon dubu. I like my extra spicy so I went ahead and added 6 tbsp. Make sure to taste before adding more since the chili flakes can be more or less spicy depending on the brand.
Add the prepared broth and tofu and let it cook. If you happen to have a stoneware pot, by all means, use it to prepare the stew. Otherwise, a regular pot will do just fine.
Cook the dumplings on the side and add them immediately to the soon dubu once it is ready. I found that boiling the dumplings makes the stew itself starchy and thick; to avoid this, boil in a separate pot.
Make sure to crack the egg while the dumpling soon dubu jjigae is still piping hot so that the egg cooks. Serve with a bowl of rice and your favorite Korean side dishes to make this a complete meal. I went even further and make Korean seafood pancakes as a little something extra!
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.