Craving a bowl of spicy, comforting goodness? Try this 15-minute Soondubu Jjigae recipe – my easy, speedy way to spicy, savoury, umami-rich Korean soft tofu stew with minimal ingredients!
Whenever I need a quick comforting bowl of soup, Soondubu Jjigae (Soondubu Chigae / Korean Soft Tofu Stew) is one of my go-tos.
Soondubu Jjigae, also known as soft tofu stew, is a popular Korean dish known for its spicy and flavourful broth. It’s also incredibly easy to make to make at home! This recipe comes in quick and easy, and uses very minimal ingredients.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Quick and Easy: This recipe may not be the most traditional – but it uses the most basic ingredients to get you a delicious Korean soup!
- Comforting Bowl of Soup: Those days when it’s cold or rainy outside, and you need a comforting and warming dish… this is the soup for you. Soondubu jjigae is known for its rich and spicy, savoury and umami-rich broth, which is made with ingredients like gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)!
- Crowd Pleaser: This Soondubu Jjigae recipe does not incorporate kimchi or gochujang, which, while deliciously umami, can be an acquired taste. The result is a ‘cleaner’ taste, which can suit more palates – except those who can’t handle the heat!
- Easily Customisable: This is my VERY basic recipe for Soondubu Jjigae… which means you can easily adjust the ingredients according to what you like (or need to clear from the pantry). Add seafood, beef, chicken, bacon, vegetables to make this dish truly your own.
Key Ingredients for Soondubu Jjigae
- Silken / Soft Tofu: The essential ingredient in Soondubu Jjigae is the dubu, or soft tofu! Tofu is mild tasting, and complements the strong spicy flavours of the soup so well! Make sure to use soft or silken tofu (not firm).
- Gochugaru: This a type of red chili pepper flakes made from dried Korean red chili peppers. Gochugaru is known for its vibrant red colour and is used to add both heat and flavour to the dish.
- Soy Sauce & Fish Sauce: The main seasoning agents of Soondubu Jjigae. I like adding both for different layers of salt, but you can use either or too.
- Sesame Oil
- Dashi Stock: I make my simple, umami-rich, dried anchovies-based dashi stock as a base for my Soondubu Jjigae. See directions below for the easy recipe. Otherwise, ANY stock will work great for tofu stew!
How I Make My Dashi Stock
To preface this, I’d like to quickly mention that you DO NOT NEED dashi stock to make Soondubu Jjigae! In a pinch, you can use any other stock cube you have at home. Dissolve in hot water until you get a stock.
If you want to use dashi stock, there are a couple of ways to make it:
1. Dashi Stock Sachets
The easiest is to use dashi stock sachets or dashi powder! Dissolve in hot water, or according to packet instructions.
2. Traditional Dashi Stock
- 2 cups water
- 1-2 pcs dried kelp (kombu)
- 1/4 cup of dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
- a handful dried anchovies
- Add water to the pot and place over medium heat. Add kombu. Just before it comes to a boil, remove the kombu.
- Once you’ve removed the kombu, bring the water to a boil, then add the dried bonito flakes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- After simmering, turn off the heat and let the bonito flakes settle to the bottom of the pot for a few minutes.
- Strain the liquid to remove the solids. This liquid is your dashi stock.
3. My ‘Ikan Bilis’ Dashi Stock
I don’t always have kombu and bonito flakes… but I always have dried anchovies. This is MY go-to dashi stock recipe, using just dried anchovies, or ikan bilis, which is a pantry staple in my home! It is umami-rich goodness. Ikan Bilis are smaller in size compared to Korean dried anchovies, but they operate the same way. Use ANY dried anchovies that are easily available to you – the steps here will be the same.
- 1/2 cup Dried Anchovies (I used Ikan Bilis, a pantry staple in my home)
- 2 cups of Water
- Give dried anchovies a quick rinse – a quick one, since we don’t want to remove all of the salt on the dried anchovies – and add to a pot. Pour in water.
- Turn on the heat and allow it to come to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Strain the liquid to remove the anchovies. Dashi stock is ready!
PRO TIP! Make a bigger batch and store in the fridge for any seafood-based soups or dishes throughout the week.
You can now use this dashi stock as a base for your soondubu jjigae. I discard the dried anchovies after, since they get chewy and not too pleasant to eat. If you enjoy it though, feel free to keep about a tablespoon of it and add to your soup later on.
How to Make Easy Soondubu Jjigae
1. Prep Ingredients
Make your stock, if needed.
Chop spring onions, separating the greens and the bottom whites. Cut off the roots, if any. We’ll be using the spring onion bottoms.
Finely mince garlic.
Option to cut your tofu into cubes. I simply just scoop the tofu from the pack and add it to the soup!
2. Saute Aromatics
Add oil to your claypot – or any pot you have will work too.
Heat over low heat. Once oil is hot, add whites of the spring onions, minced garlic and gochugaru.
Stir until fragrant and the gochugaru absorbs the oil. Continuously stir over low heat so that the gochugaru does not burn. Option to add more oil, so that a red chilli oil is created.
TIP! If using any meat proteins, stir fry it to cook with the spring onions and minced garlic first. Once cooked, add the gochugaru.
3. Add Stock
Pour in stock. Season with light soy sauce.
Turn the heat to a medium and let the stock come to a boil.
4. Add Tofu
Add tofu to the soup. I usually just scoop the tofu straight out of the box and add to the pot.
If using enoki mushrooms, add it in at this stage as well.
Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes, so the tofu can take on the flavours of the spicy broth.
5. Top with Egg
Once the mushroom is tender, gently add the egg. Cook according to your preferred egg doneness.
For cooked whites with a runny yolk (my fave!), let the egg cook for about 1 minute, before turning off the heat and covering with a lid. This will allow the egg to cook in the residual heat.
6. Serve Immediately!
Once the eggs are cooked to doneness, drizzle on sesame oil.
TIP! Add sesame oil at this stage to enhance the aroma.
Garnish with the chopped spring onion greens and sesame seeds.
Serve immediately with rice.
How do I make Kimchi Jjigae?
Stir fry kimchi with the onions and garlic, until the kimchi liquid has dried up slightly. It should smell roasty.
Continue on with the recipe!
How do I add proteins? What kind of proteins to add?
I usually skip the proteins because I’m all about that spicy soup, but feel free to add some if you want.
Stir fry the proteins with the onions and garlic until it’s almost cooked, before adding the gochugaru.
Some protein options:
- Minced beef or chicken
- Seafood (my fave!) – clams and flower crab is my go-to seafood of choice if I’m feeling a little bit fancy with my Soondubu Jjigae. These two ingredients not only cook quickly, they will add so much seafood sweetness to the dish.
Do I need a claypot to make Soondubu Jjigae?
No! Using a claypot will help in heat retention so the soup can simmer gently, but you can achieve the same effect by using a low heat. I always serve my soup immediately, so I don’t need it to retain heat for that much longer after it’s cooked anyway.
That said, I have to admit: presentation-wise, Soondubu Jjigae looks better in a claypot!
I don’t have stock, can I use water?
Sure you can! It will not have the same depth of flavour as if you used stock, but you’ll still have a spicy soup. Adjust the soy sauce and fish sauce accordingly.
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- How to make Fresh Sweet Kimchi – for those who don’t like sour kimchi
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Easy Soondubu Jjigae | Korean Soft Tofu StewCourse: Curries, Soups u0026amp; Stews, Dinner, Eggs, Korean, Lunch, Recipes, Sides
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 clove garlic, minced
2 stalks spring onions
1 tbsp gochugaru
2 cups or 500ml dashi stock
1 tsp soy sauce, or to taste
1 tsp fish sauce, or to taste
300g block tofu
100g enoki mushrooms
1 tsp sesame oil
spring onion greens, sliced for garnish
sesame seeds, for garnish
- Heat oil in a pot, or claypot. Use a low heat.
- Once hot, add the whites of spring onions, minced garlic, and gochugaru. Continuously stir until fragrant, and the gochugaru has absorbed the oil.
- Pour in stock, soy sauce and fish sauce. Stir to combine and turn the heat up to a medium. Let the soup come to a boil.
- Once it boils, add tofu and mushrooms. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Once mushrooms are tender, add egg. Cook to your preferred doneness, I like to leave mine in for just 2 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Pour over sesame oil and garnish with spring onions and sesame seeds.
- Serve immediately and hot!