Spicy soft tofu stew with seafood

Haemul sundubu-jjigae 해물 순두부찌개

Sundubu-jjigae (sometimes spelled soondubu-jjigae) is a spicy, seasoned stew made with a type of silky soft tofu called sundubu. Served hot at the table in its traditional earthenware bowl, it’s impossible to resist. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like sundubu-jjigae after they tried it. All it takes is one time!

If you go to a Korean sundubu-jjigae restaurant you’ll be surprised at how many varieties they make. This version is my favorite. When I go to the restaurant I always choose the seafood version, and it’s the one I most like to make at home, too. I’ve created a sundubu-jjigae section on my website that includes all the sundubu-jjigae recipes I’ve made so far. If you follow any of those recipes exactly, you will have some really delicious stew!

Usually we Koreans have sundubu-jjigae in a Korean earthenware bowl, but so many of you have told me over the years that you can’t get that bowl, or want to feed more people than you have bowls, so I’m including a serving alternative at the end of this recipe that explains how to serve it in regular bowls.

I have a funny story about Korean earthenware bowls (ttukbaegi). When I was making my first cookbook, my editor Rux and my literary agent came over to my house in New York for lunch. I made them bibimbap in Korean earthenware bowls. Rux was surprised to see me doing this, she said “Oh, where can I buy those bowls?”

I said “At a Korean grocery store! Do you want me to help you buy one?”

She said “Sure!” So we took a taxi down to Koreatown on 32nd street. She bought a lot of them, maybe 7 or 8 bowls! They were so heavy. Rux doesn’t even live in New York, she lives in Vermont. I helped her take all those heavy bowls to her hotel and then she later took them all the way home to Vermont in her car. Ever since we made that cookbook she’s been cooking Korean food all the time and has become better and better at it. Her whole family are big fans of Korean food now, all the way to her granddaughter, and she says she’s the Maangchi of Vermont now.

I chose large shrimp in my recipe but you don’t have to use shrimp that big. Just use smaller shrimp or even cocktail shrimp and the broth will still be delicious.

I wanted to show you a typical sundubu-jjigae table setting in the video. What you need to do is completely set the table with the side dishes and everything so that when the sundubu-jjigae is bubbling on the stove you can bring it right out to serve, directly on to the table. If you keep it boiling on the stove while you set up the table, the seafood will get tough and the sundubu-jjigae will actually boil down, which you really don’t want.

Enjoy the recipe! I hope you become the Maangchi of your area! : )haemul sundubu jjigae

Ingredients (for 2 servings)

Directions

  1. Combine the hot pepper flakes, sesame oil, and black pepper in a small bowl. Mix well with a spoon until the hot pepper flakes absorb all the oil. Set aside.mixture of hot pepper flakes
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, the chopped white part of the green onion, and mushroom. Stir with a wooden spoon until the onion and garlic are slightly brown and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock. Cover and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until it’s boiling vigorously.
  3. Add shrimp, oysters, and mussels. Cut the tubes of tofu in half and squeeze them into the boiling stew, and then break up the tofu a bit with a wooden spoon. If using silken tofu, scoop or squeeze from the box into the stew.sundubu
  4. Add the fish sauce (or salt to your taste), half of the hot pepper mixture, and stir a few times.spicy soft tofu stew
  5. Cover and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until the seafood is fully cooked and the broth is infused with its savory flavor.

2 ways to serve:

Serve in Korean earthenware bowls:

  1. Ladle the stew into 2 earthenware bowls (2½ cup bowls work best) and place them on the stove top. Heat them up over high heat. Add the leftover seasoning mixture on top of the stew in each bowl.seafood sundubujjigaespicy soft tofu stew with seafood
  2. When the stews starts bubbling, crack the eggs into each bowl. Cook for another minute until vigorously boiling. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the green part of the chopped green onion over top. spicy soft tofu stew with seafood
  3. Serve right away while it’s bubbling, with rice, kimchi, and more side dishes on the side.

Serve in regular soup bowls:

  1. Add the second half of the seasoning mixture to the boiling stew in the pot and mix it in a bit. Carefully crack the eggs into the bubbling stew, and cook for 1 or 2 minutes until the eggs are slightly (or half) cooked. Remove from the heat.
  2. Gently ladle the stew into two soup bowls without disturbing the eggs. Scoop up each egg and place one in each bowl.
  3. Sprinkle the green part of the chopped green onion over top and serve right away with rice, kimchi, and more side dishes.

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500 Comments:

  1. Two questions, please, from a Korean food addict devoted to your podcasts and website! I cannot find frozen assorted or mixed seafood in my local Korean markets. Please suggest an assortment of frozen or fresh seafood I might buy individually packed for the Soon du bu. (I am in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida area.) Also, please tell us, if you will, what brand and model of “magic” knife you always use that is so wonderfully sharp!

  2. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Hi,Anonymous,
    Here is my answer regarding your question
    1. There are so many different kinds of seaplants and kelp is one of them. To make stock, we use “Kelp”(“daa si ma” in korean)
    2. Hot pepper flakes are more coarse than hot pepper powder. For the recipe I showed in the videos, you can use either hot pepper powder or hot pepper flakes. no difference.

  3. Hi Maanchi,

    1. Is the kelp the same as seaplant? Or seaplant can substitute kelp in this dish?
    2. What’s the hot pepper flakes (very very thin) used for?
    3. Can we use hot pepper powder to make hot spicy fried squid? because I thought some retaurant use the powder instead of hot pepper flakes.

    Thank you so much for your answer!

  4. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Hi,rovingbubs,
    I added the frozen shrimp directly to the stew, and I rinsed one cup of the mixed frozen seafood in running water before using.

  5. hi maangchi,

    thank you for posting soon du bu. the mixed seafood and shrimp that you added, are those frozen and added directly to the stew?

    thanks again.

  6. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Thank you anonymous,
    I’m glad that this dish is your favorite dish. I hope you make it soon.

  7. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Hi,confused,
    I’m going to post all pictures of korean ingredients that I have used for my cooking videos in my blog soon. I usually use “Tae Yang Cho” hot pepper flakes.

  8. One hundreds thank yous to Maangchi, too:)

    This dish is one of most favouristest korean foods, and Maanchi has helped us to enjoy it at home!

  9. I’m confused with which pepper flakes to buy. Can you post a picture of what type of hot pepper flakes you used for this soup? Thanks.

  10. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Liz,
    For soon du bu jji gae, you will have to use hot pepper flakes. No hot pepper paste.
    If you can’t find bigger size of dried anchovies, just use any dried anchovies, but recommend using 1 cup of dried anchovies.

  11. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Hi, Sandy
    Sooner or later, you will become an expert in Korean cooking! : )

  12. Oh thank you, thank you, one hundred thank yous. I can’t wait to try this recipe out! I’ve tried several others from your website and they’ve all turned out delicious.

  13. Hi Maanchi,

    I think your cooking videos are the best in YouTube!

  14. This is my favorite food on a cold day. I used to eat this frequently in the winter on 34th or 32nd St. in Manhattan. I don’t live in an area where Korean restaurants are common anymore, so no more Korean food for lunch everyday. Thank you for making the effort to show people how to make this wonderful cuisine at home. You are doing a good service to the internet!

  15. Hi Maangchi,

    Where can I find hot pepper flakes? Is it the same as using hot pepper paste? Also, korean market sells anchovies for stock and anchovies for pan frying but the anchovies for stock are quite large!! They dont look the same size as the ones you use…

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