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. uk2nyc Milan, Italy joined 3/16 & has 2 comments

    Amazing i always make it :)

    Thanks again

    Richard

  2. kimjessi chicago joined 3/16 & has 1 comment

    Hello,
    I tried this recipe for the 1st time, and i am wondering if the gochucaru is suppose to melt.. my soup just looks watery with flakes? what am i doing wrong!? soondubu is my favorite.. so i would love to makethis right!

  3. journeywithkube Raleigh, NC joined 1/16 & has 1 comment

    I used your recipe and made a very tasty Sundabu Jjigae. It was so good that I even decided to buy your book! :)


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  4. miggyloo Toronto joined 1/16 & has 1 comment

    I made this last night to use up some soon-to-expire squid and it was so delicious and perfectly seasoned – just like from the Korean restaurants! I used my cast iron dutch oven as the earthenware substitute, teeny tiny 1/2 inch dried anchovies found in the frozen section at the local Korean supermarket so no need to gut, salted mini shrimp from a jar instead of regular shrimp, one jalapeño instead of the green chile pepper, Pulmone silken tofu instead of the tube tofu, dried shiitake for the stock and fresh local shiitakes for frying with the grass-fed ground beef, and added watercress near the end for extra green. My 4 year old daughter wanted to try the squid and kept coming back for more even though it was spicy! Next time, I’ll make Pulmone’s hand-made style noodles to go with it and we’ll eat like kings! Thank you for your excellent recipe!

  5. Emerquoise joined 8/15 & has 5 comments

    Hi, can I use pork instead of beef? Thanks.

  6. Sara Alice joined 7/15 & has 8 comments

    I made this today and it came out so good. I have made this dish several times since I love seafood. I ended up adjusting the recipe for a serving of one instead, just for a change. Instead of two tablespoons, I did three teaspoons instead. One teaspoon of fish sauce, soup soy sauce, and oyster sauce to make it a little bit sweet. And I added a sprinkle of salt. This is the best I have ever had. Take care!


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  7. charlietuna joined 6/15 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,

    This may be an unusual request, but do you have a suggestion to make your dish not spicy? I would like to make this dish for my young children, but they cannot take spicy ingredients. Thank you!

    • sanne Munich joined 8/14 & has 268 comments

      Hi charlietuna,

      Funny: We had soondubu-jjigae last night! Great as always! ;-D

      Just use green bell-pepper and mild red bell-pepper powder (or paste or fresh ones if the powder is not available). That way, you will have the good taste without the hotness.
      Don’t forget to fry them! Readily grilled ones (available canned in jars) should work perfectly, too.

      Bye, Sanne.

  8. Jojo77 Ohio US joined 2/15 & has 4 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    I tried this recipe last Friday and I think it was a success, but somehow I feel it is not salty enough. Is it because the hot pepper flakes I am using is not salty enough?

    Thanks,
    Jojo

  9. AdamB usa joined 12/14 & has 15 comments

    Thank you Maangchi! I make your Japchae and kimchi and am sure this stew will be another favorite. I don’t have good enough internet to watch your videos unless I can get to a town, but love to watch and learn when the opportunity arises. So, the printed recipes, directions and links are so appreciated!

  10. AdamB usa joined 12/14 & has 15 comments

    I am going to make this stew, but what had been holding me back are the anchovies. Quite frankly the thought of taking guts out of the little fish is a bit gross! Obviously I didn’t grow up with them! Do we remove the anchovies before serving? I don’t mean to insult. I’m sure they are the base for a great flavor, but like I said, they will be a hurdle for me!

    I have to tell you that I so appreciate how you link the ingredients to an info page. I take my cell phone to the Korean market and find the “right” ingredients by matching up your pictures to what is on the shelf!

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

      Yes, I always take out the guts and heads from dried anchovies. If you can’t clean the anchovies, I recommend getting anchovy powder in small package. And yes, remove the cooked anchovies from the stew before serving. Not many people will be interested in seeing floating anchovies in the stew. Some people eat the cooked anchovies though.

  11. macarl manila, philippines joined 11/14 & has 1 comment

    Dear Maangchi,
    Thank You for posting your recipes.
    please keep em coming. I cant wait to try some of your recipes and i will keep you posted on my progress.

  12. isykitty United States joined 10/14 & has 1 comment

    Since there are 473 positive comments about this I’m 100% certain mine turned out yucky cause of me. so sad. my poor toddler even cried when she ate it it was so bad.

    Just thought I would post so if anybody else created a disaster they wouldn’t feel like they were the only one.

    I used Dashi anchovy dried…I highly doubt that was why it tasted like crap…sigh

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

      Wow you made this for your child? Very brave!

      I hope it turns out better next time!

    • Lynnjamin New York joined 11/14 & has 31 comments

      I feel so bad for you! You are taking one failed dish pretty hard, my friend! This dish is complicated and there are so many variables. The anchovies and kelp, were they quite fresh? They are the backbone of this stew, and if they have lost their zest, the stew will be bland and one-dimensional. The red pepper flakes are the star of this show. They have to be the Korean kind, or this just won’t taste good at all. Please don’t give up!

  13. Deergalaxy Hong Kong, China joined 7/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi,
    Is it a must to add kelp in the stock?

  14. jenny_ang18 Indonesia joined 3/14 & has 1 comment

    Hi maangchi….

    The first time i tried to make this soup, and i really failed that.. T_T i bought the red pepper flakes in my country which is the texture is quite rough. So i actually wonder did i buy the correct red pepper flakes or should i buy red pepper powder which is more fine in the texture. Please help and guide me maangchi. I’m really dying to try to make a successfull korean dishes.. thanks

  15. Chiizuchan Florida joined 3/14 & has 1 comment

    Maangchi!

    This is the second recipe I’ve made from your site so far and it’s so much better than the soondubu-jiggae I had at the restaurant, thank you!

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