Recipe Sundubu-jjigae

Sundubu-jjigae, or soft tofu stew, is a classic Korean dish known for its spicy and rich flavor. It is typically made with uncurdled tofu, vegetables, sometimes mushrooms, onion, optional seafood (such as shrimp or clams), and gochujang (Korean chili paste). This dish is a comfort food favorite and is often enjoyed with a bowl of steamed rice. The soft, silky texture of the tofu combined with the spicy broth creates a harmonious balance of flavors and textures.

Ingredients

Main Ingredients

  • 1 pack of soft tofu (sundubu)
  • 100g of pork belly or beef (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 red chili pepper, sliced
  • 1 green chili pepper, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of gochujang (Korean chili paste)
  • 1 tablespoon of gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1 cup of kimchi, chopped
  • 2 cups of water or broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional Ingredients

  • Seafood (shrimp, clams, or mussels)
  • Mushrooms (shiitake, enoki, or button mushrooms)
  • 1 teaspoon of fish sauce (for added depth of flavor)

Preparation and Cooking Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients

  1. Slice the pork belly or beef into thin strips.
  2. Dice the onion and mince the garlic.
  3. Slice the zucchini into thin rounds.
  4. Chop the green onion and slice the chili peppers.
  5. If using seafood, clean and prepare as needed.
  6. Chop the kimchi into bite-sized pieces.

Step 2: Cook the Base

  1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot or a Korean earthenware pot (ttukbaegi) over medium heat.
  2. Add the sesame oil and sauté the minced garlic until fragrant.
  3. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent.
  4. Add the pork belly or beef slices and cook until browned.

Step 3: Add Flavor and Vegetables

  1. Stir in the gochujang and gochugaru, mixing well to coat the meat and onions.
  2. Add the chopped kimchi and continue to cook for a few minutes.
  3. Pour in the water or broth and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the soy sauce and, if using, the fish sauce for added umami.

Step 4: Add Tofu and Simmer

  1. Gently add the soft tofu into the pot, breaking it into large chunks.
  2. Add the zucchini slices, chili peppers, and optional seafood or mushrooms.
  3. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the stew cook for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

Step 5: Final Touches

  1. If desired, crack an egg into the stew just before serving. Let it cook in the hot broth for a couple of minutes.
  2. Garnish with chopped green onions.

Serving

Serve the Sundubu-jjigae hot, straight from the pot, with a side of steamed rice. Enjoy the stew by spooning some of the broth, tofu, and vegetables over the rice for a comforting and satisfying meal.

Tips

  • Spiciness Level: Adjust the amount of gochujang and gochugaru according to your spice preference.
  • Tofu Texture: Use soft or silken tofu for the best texture. Firm tofu can be used, but it will alter the dish's traditional texture.
  • Broth Choice: For a richer flavor, use homemade or high-quality store-bought broth.
  • Variations: Add different vegetables or proteins to suit your taste. Mushrooms and various seafood add great depth to the stew.
  • Make Ahead: Prepare the base of the stew in advance and add the tofu and fresh vegetables just before serving for a quicker meal prep.

Variations

  1. Seafood Sundubu-jjigae: Add a mix of seafood like shrimp, clams, and mussels for a briny, ocean flavor.
  2. Vegetarian Sundubu-jjigae: Omit the meat and seafood, and use vegetable broth. Add more vegetables like mushrooms, spinach, and bell peppers.
  3. Extra Spicy Sundubu-jjigae: Increase the amount of gochujang and gochugaru, and add a splash of spicy chili oil.
  4. Miso Sundubu-jjigae: Add a spoonful of miso paste for an umami-rich twist.

Calorie Information

The approximate calorie count for a serving of Sundubu-jjigae (excluding rice) is as follows:

  • Soft Tofu (1 pack): 80-100 calories
  • Pork Belly (100g): 250-300 calories
  • Vegetables (onion, zucchini, etc.): 50-70 calories
  • Kimchi (1 cup): 30-50 calories
  • Gochujang (2 tablespoons): 50-70 calories
  • Sesame Oil (1 teaspoon): 40 calories

Total per serving: Approximately 450-600 calories, depending on specific ingredients and quantities used.

Conclusion

Sundubu-jjigae is a delightful Korean stew that brings warmth and comfort with every bite. Its versatility allows for endless variations to suit different tastes and dietary preferences. Whether you prefer a seafood version or a vegetarian twist, this dish is sure to satisfy your cravings for something spicy and hearty. Enjoy making and savoring this delicious Korean classic!

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