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Sundubu Jjigae - Korean Soft Tofu Stew (Recipe)


It's March, but it feels like the depths of winter. All I want to do is fill my belly with hot soups and stews in a bid to stay warm.

A double whammy of chilli heat and steaming broth is guaranteed to keep the chills away and one of my weapons of choice is the Korean dish
sundubu jjigae aka soondubu jjigae.

Dried shiitake, garlic, dried anchovies

Sundubu jjigae is a hot and spicy stew (jjigae) made with super-soft uncurdled tofu (dubu), seafood, mushrooms, onions, kombu (kelp) and gochujang (a Korean savoury chilli pepper paste).

Made in a special earthenware bowl called a ddukbaegi which can be heated directly on a stovetop, a raw egg is cracked straight into the jjigae just before it's time to eat, and then the jjigae is served in the same bowl while it's still bubbling away.

The combination of barely poached egg and cloud-like tofu dancing together in the intense broth is obscenely good, especially when you break into the egg and the soft golden yolk melds with it all. I'm addicted.


Jjigaes can also be made in a normal saucepan and decanted into bowls, but this isn't half as exciting, since you don't get that cauldron effect.

Jjigaes always come with a bowl of white rice and little side dishes called banchan - out of laziness I often just serve kimchi.

Gochujang, sundubu, kombu dashi

Usually eaten with a long metal spoon and metal chopsticks, I find myself abandoning the latter so I can spoon more of the spicy jjigae broth onto the rice and into my mouth.

I got my ddukbaegi bowls and all the other Korean ingredients from the Centerpoint Food Store off Tottenham Court Road. You can also get everything in the Korean stores in New Malden.

Sundubu Jjigae - Korean Spicy Soft Tofu Stew

Serves 2

  • 2 Korean earthenware bowls (optional)
  • 1 sachet of kombu dashi or 10g kombu flakes
  • 20g dried or 4 fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 8 dried anchovies
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp gochujang (red pepper paste)
  • 2 handfuls of small clams in the shell or cleaned prawns
  • 1 pack of extra soft tofu (sundubu)
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 eggs
  • Kimchi and rice to serve

Slice the mushrooms and cut the onion in half. Remove the heads from the anchovies. Sliver the spring onions and the chilli.

Place the kombu, mushrooms, garlic, onion and anchovies in a saucepan and add 500 ml cold water. Bring to a vigorous boil and then simmer for 15 minutes to make your jjigae stock.


Add a tbsp of gochujang and a tbsp of oil to each bowl and place them on the stove OR add the gochujang and oil to a saucepan. Heat till it sizzles.

Pour the simmering stock into the bowls/saucepan of sizzling gochujang (don't bother straining - the softened garlic and mushrooms etc are part of the stew).

Top up with water if necessary and then bring to the boil.


Add the seafood to the bowls/saucepan. This will cool the jjigae down, so bring to the boil again.

Add the extra soft tofu and break up into clumps. Add the slivered spring onions and chilli and stir.


Have the rice and banchan or kimchi ready for serving.

Bring the jjigae to the boil one more time and crack in the eggs.

If using the bowls, immediately remove from the heat with oven gloves.

If using the saucepan, immediately decant into (warmed) serving bowls.


Eat the jjigae while it's still bubbling like the fiery depths of Hell and try very hard not to burn your mouth.

Watch and listen to my sundubu jjigae in all its seething glory:


PDH said…
My god this looks a bit lush MiMi!!!
Joshua said…
Looks great. Only learnt about this dish on Lizzie's blog recently and straight away there's a recipe.

Korean food is my current new favourite so may have to give it a go.
meemalee said…
@Pavel - It is! So gooood.

@Joshua - Really? But you wrote about budae jjigae and that's much less famous!

Me, Lizzie, Catty and Supercharz have long been fans of sundubu jjigae - if you eat out, Koba's is the best - and I've been making it in a saucepan for a while, but I only decided to blog it when I managed to get hold of the proper bowls :)
Hollow Legs said…
HOORAY! After having it at Koba I am DEFINITELY going to go and buy the bowl (it's not the same without it) and eat it all the time. That wibbly tofu! mmm.
Su-Lin said…
Soondubu jjigae is fantastic. For anyone in West London, another place to buy the tofu is in Duri in Ealing Common. What London needs though is an H-Mart!

Have you seen the soondubu jjigae served at BCD Tofu House in the US (also Korea and Japan according to the website)? Their banchan include a whole fried fish!!!
meemalee said…
@Lizzie - Wibbly tofu, mmmmm. There are two types of earthenware bowl at Centrepoint - one's £5.99 and the other's £19.99.

They looked the same to me so I got the cheaper one - I'm sure it'll be fine :)

@Su-Lin - Ooh, thanks for the tip. H-Mart is a dream.

Whole fried fish banchan? Whoa! I wanna go there.
This looks really good, and tofu and seafood is perfect for me! I declare that you are an excellent conduit for introducing me to asian food I've not come across before- please continue!
Charmaine said…
DROOOOL. I just had my fix at Koba today, and as always it was just fucking ace. I fully admit to making this in individual donabes (larger, deeper) so I get MORE to eat. Really should invest in a proper Korean pot though.
The Grubworm said…
There is something just so perfectly lush about sundubu jjigae. And I don;t often use that word, but it seems to fit - all that smooth tofu, molten egg, bubbling chilli spiked broth. Heaven. And I have only ever eaten it at Tohbang. Sounds like Koba is the next place to try. Or at home. Must get to Centrepoint...
meemalee said…
@TheFastestIndian - Haha, will do :)

@Charmaine - Genius! *runs off to get a donabe*

@The Grubworm - Ah, the Tohbang one is fab, but the Koba one is legendary.
Andrea said…
This looks heavenly, MiMi.
German said…
The spring is coming but i promise I will not end the winter without try your stew!
meemalee said…
@Andrea - Thank you - it tastes heavenly too!

@German - Excellent :)
Rob said…
Just made it following your recipe (pretty) closely & have to say it was delicious! The stock is beautiful and the whole dish was really stunning! Note to self: don't go too far off piste in future...try and stick to the bloody recipe.
Cheers Mimi
Sharmila said…
This is one of my favourite dishes. It's pretty addictive, spooning all that lovely chilli-ish broth all over your rice. Will definitely try and make this!
Sounds great, so many people are unfairly prejudiced against tofu. Love the pic of your shittake and garlic near the top, it's like a still life painting!
chumbles said…
That is so gorgeous it qualifies as porn. Dribbling...

And, Lizzie, wasn't it Nigella who defined wibble as like the quivering of the soft white flesh of the inner thigh? Time to go and stick my head in a bucket full of ice water, methinks.
meemalee said…
@Rob - Nothing wrong with off-piste as long as you like the result :)

@Sharmila - Oh do - it's also quite a quick dish with very little prep, so you could do it on a weeknight.

@Sarah, Maison Cupcake - Thank you! And yes, tofu gets a bad rap - most unfair.

@chumbles - Deep breaths, chumbles. Deep breaths.
tori said…
The dish looks divine- and the video! LOVE IT. The sounds absolutely make it. Now if only there was smell-o-vision.
Dennis K. said…
One of my favorite dishes.. Looks great Meemalee!
meemalee said…
@tori - Thanks Tori! I wanted people to hear the hilarious bubbling noises :)

@Dennis K - Yeah! Actually the video of Gyeran Jjim that you made for your blog inspired me to make this one :)
Tried this for the first time at Koba recently. Greedily scarfed most of it before rest of the table noticed. Burned my tongue but hey it was worth it. Delighted to find a recipe here now.

Nice lighting! Pro studio lights or a strategically placed study lamp?

Ready access to ingredients to make this kind of thing is the one of the very few things I miss about London!

Sounds delish, MiMi. I've no real experience of Korean food, but I WANT ME SOME.
tofu calories said…
This looks fantastic. All my favourite ingredients with tofu. And chili :)
niki said…
I adore Sundubu jigae and this recipe looks amazing. I'm very excited to try it. Have a cold and think it might be the cure. If not it will be tasty. Just out of curiosity, where is Tottenham Court Road? (Meaning what city and country) Not because I plan to go Korean food shopping there,I work a block away from Korea town in New York, but I've never been anywhere that was both a Court and a Road before.
meemalee said…
Hi Niki,

Yes, it's perfect for a cold - as is kimchi jjigae! Tottenham Court Road is a road in central London, UK, which is weirdly full of furniture shops and gadget shops :)
Do you leave the anchovies in? How is the broth for someone who doesn't like anchovies?
So excited to make this!!