When you binge on Korean dramas like I do, it's inevitable that you'll crave Korean food. They sure know how to make it look super yummy! My favorite Korean food is their stews, particularly kimchi and soft tofu stew. Not only do you get to enjoy a bubbling hot cauldron of spicy deliciousness, you also get a complimentary steam facial. Smooth skin while eating a widely popular Korean comfort food? Yes, please!
Soft Tofu Stew or Sundubu Jjigae is made with really ripe and sour kimchi and a rich anchovy-based broth. The broth is flavored with soy sauce, Korean red pepper flakes (Gochugaru) and Korean hot pepper paste (Gochujang). You can add pork, beef, and/or seafood for different varietions. The stew is cooked and served in an earthenware stone bowl and usually topped with mushrooms, green onions and a raw egg to cook in the bubbling hot liquid. In Korean restaurants, you also get a side of fluffy steamed rice, along with the various other Korean pickled side dishes known as Banchan.
What fascinates me the most about Korean stew is the amazing capability of the stone bowl to retain heat. Korean restaurants really should have warning signs on how hot the stews are when they arrived. My first time having Sundubu Jjigae, I almost scorched my tongue to smithereens with the piping hot broth. But it was OK. I powered through it. At the end of the meal, I was literally dripping in sweat but it was oh so worth it.
For the below Seafood Soft Tofu recipe, I used store-bought chicken stock instead of the traditional anchovy stock. The reason being I can't find store-bought anchovy stock easily here. Also, when I make it from scratch, it is really bitter and I'm not sure why that is. Traditional anchovy stock is made with kelp and dried anchovies. I think I might be using too much kelp or too much dried anchovies. I don't know. To make it simpler on myself, I use chicken stock. In the end, you couldn't even tell the difference *high five*.
Quick and Easy Korean Seafood Soft Tofu Stew Recipe (Haemul Sundubu Jjigae)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup minced yellow or white onion
1 packed cup aged kimchi (cut into bite-size pieces)
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoons Korean red pepper paste (Gochujang)
2 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes (Gochugaru)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon granulated white sugar or mirin
1 package soft tofu (cut into cubes)
Handful large prawns and/or clams (4-6 each)
1 small bunch mushroom of your choice (slice large mushrooms)
1 green onion (thinly slice)
On the bottom of medium-sized pot, perferably stone earthenware, clay, or cast-iron, heat up the vegetable oil on medium-high.
Add garlic and onions. Saute until fragrant.
Add kimchi. Saute until limp.
Add chicken stock and bring the pot to a boil. Season with red pepper paste, flakes, soy sauce and sugar/mirin. Adjust level of spiciness as needed.
Add tofu, prawns, clams, mushrooms and crack 2 eggs on top. Bring pot back to boil. Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.