[Recipe]: Sundubu-jjigae (순두부찌개). 

Sundubu-jjigae is a Korean spicy soft tofu stew that can either be vegetarian or more commonly consist of seafood and meat. The word ‘jjigae’ literally is given to any traditional Korean dish that has a stew or soup. As this cuisine mainly consists of vegetables and tofu, it is a filling healthy meal perfect for when you need to replenish your body with energy when inflicted with a cold: hence why my boyfriend made it for our lunch today.
Until now I have only ever had Sundubu-jjigae twice and enjoy it very much particularly during Winter. I understand that spicy dishes aren’t everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, however I have become aware that countless people (more than usual) are adopting new year’s resolutions centred around eating healthily, cooking with all fresh ingredients and eating plant based meals. I can’t take full credit for this recipe as I said I merely observed the process.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  • Mushrooms, large ones with thick stumps are typically used.
  • Half of a red chilli.
  • Half of a green chilli.
  • Two large white onions.
  • Two cloves of garlic.
  • Soft tofu (-usually comes in a tube rather than a pot).
  • Kimchi (optional).
  • Mixed seafood (optional).
  • Pork belly or stewing beef (optional).
  • Water.
  • Red chilli powder.
  • Soy sauce.
  • Sesame oil.
  • Grounded black pepper.
  • Vegetable stock.
  • Steamed white rice for serving.

For garnishing: one egg per person and finely chopped spring onions.


  1. Before anything you want to ensure that your side dish of rice has plenty of time to steam or boil, so that it can be presented in time alongside the stew. I usually turn the rice cooker on first before touching any of the ingredients required for the main dish. The perfect water to rice ratio is 2:1 (two cups of water to one cup of rice).
  2. Pour one and a half litres of boiling water into a medium sized cooking pot or a deep wok. Place on a low heat whilst you prepare the vegetables (and meat/seafood if you wish to use any).
  3. Chop the white onions and garlic as thinly as possible.
  4. Deseed half of a green chilli and half of a red chilli before chopping them finely.
  5. Slice the mushrooms into roughly shaped rectangles, similar to how bamboo shoots in stir fry dishes look like.
  6. If you aren’t using meat skip to step 7. If you are using meat: season and cut the pork belly or stewing beef into strips that aren’t too thick.
  7. Combine all of the ingredients that you have just prepared into the pot or wok containing the boiling water. Increase the heat source to medium strength. If you are adding seafood, also place it into pot/wok.
  8. After around 5 minutes the ingredients will begin to soften and the proteins will begin to change colour. At this stage add 3 tablespoons of red chilli powder or 1 tablespoon of chilli paste, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of vegetable stock, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and a sprinkle of black pepper to taste. Stir well.
  9. Allow the ingredients to stew for 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  10. Add the kimchi and tofu.
  11. Taste the broth to see if it’s too spicy or not salty enough. If it’s too spicy add more water and if it’s not salty enough add more soy sauce. Stew for a further 15 minutes.
  12. After a total 30-35 minutes the stew should be ready to serve.
  13. Use a ladel to effortlessly spoon the stew into individual bowls. Traditional black stone bowls are used; alternatively you may use a bowl which is usually the suitable size for cereal.
  14. Into each bowl containing the stew, crack an egg. The white of the egg should be dripped in first. Stir the white of the egg into the stew so that the heat of the broth will cook the egg white. Let the yolk sit on top of the stew without being dispersed.
  15. Granish with ringlets of spring onions. Each person should receive a small bowl of rice to accompany the stew.

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