Whenever a large group of my friends is 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. 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. Here is my version using a different but equally delicious filling, dumpling soon dubu jjigae.
Dumpling Soon Dubu Jjigae
- 3 cups water
- 10 dried anchovies
- ½ medium onion peeled, left whole
- 2 cloves garlic peeled, left whole
- 2 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 3x3 inch square dried kelp
Soon dubu jjigae
- 8 dumplings
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 cup kimchi chopped
- 1-4 tablespoons Korean chili flakes
- 22 ounces silken tofu
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- chopped green onion for garnish
- rice for serving
- Combine water with dried anchovies, onion, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, and kelp in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 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 and float to the top, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, and saute for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add kimchi, anchovy stock, and chili flakes, and bring to a boil. For a mild stew, add 1 tablespoon chili flakes. For extra hot, add 4 tablespoons or more.
- Add the tofu, breaking up the large pieces with a wooden spoon. Season the stew with fish sauce, soy sauce, and black pepper. Stir to combine and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add the dumplings and crack the eggs directly into the pot. Simmer for another minute then remove from heat. Garnish with green onions and serve with rice.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
You can prepare soon dubu with almost any protein, beef, pork, clams, shrimp, or even just kimchi. I love the seafood variation but I recently discovered the dumpling soon dubu. Since the dumplings already have meat, the actual stew won't have any protein.
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 20 minutes - so there's really no excuse for skipping this step!
Locate the soon dubu tofu in any Korean or Asian market. 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 4 tablespoons. 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 simmer. 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 they are ready. I found that boiling the dumplings directly in the soup makes the stew itself starchy and thick; to avoid this, boil them in a separate pot.
You can use any dumpling you like. The type of dumpling won't affect the stew itself so pick your favorite one and add it to the stew.
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!
For more Korean inspiration check out this budae jjigae recipe!