This Sundubu Jjigae 순두부 찌개 (which literally translates to ‘soft tofu stew’) is one of my favourite Korean dishes.
WHAT IS SUNDUBU JJIGAE?
Here’s a breakdown:
순두부 – sundubu (soft = 순, tofu 두부)
찌개 – jjigae (stew)
Put it together and you have 순두부찌개 sundubu jjigae!
It has a light yet really rich and flavourful base with a kick of spice from gochugaru. I’ve made this countless times at home and it’s a family favourite!
This is so comforting and perfect for warm and hearty meals with a bowl of steamed short grain rice and some banchan (or side dishes) like kimchi and kongnamul.
You can watch the recipe video below where I made this using a regular pot.
MORE ON SUNDUBU JJIGAE AND OTHER JJIGAE
Korean cuisine has various types of jjigae or stew. This one is a sundubu jjigae 순두부찌개, which literally translates to soft tofu (두 sun = soft, 두부 dubu = tofu) stew (찌개 jjigae). Its broth gets its distinct orange/red hue from the use of gochugaru or Korean red pepper flakes/powder. It’s very orange/red but is actually not that spicy since gochugaru is mild in terms of spice but is really bright red in colour. It also has a subtle sweet note.
What makes sundubu jjigae is of course the use of sundubu or soft tofu.
I grew up enjoying this and is usually made with some meat like small pieces or beef and/or seafood like squid and clams. But when I went vegan I of course wanted to make a vegan version of it.
So for this vegan version, I use a variety of mushrooms, that also give the base a nice umami flavour. I also find that king oyster mushrooms have a similar texture to squid, which goes perfect with this jjigae.
I’m really happy with how this turned out and my non-vegan family is, too!
SUNDUBU OR SOFT TOFU
The sundubu or soft tofu gives this that silky texture and the mushrooms really add to the texture, most especially the enoki mushrooms that have this stringy texture that I really love.
You’ll also need a few basic ingredients and of course some soft tofu! Mine comes in a tube but it’s also available in blocks that you can purchase in supermarkets or Asian groceries.
PREPARING THE BROTH
I like to cut through the kombu using a pair of scissors. I like to fold mine in half and cut around five 1” (2.5 cm) cuts on each side. Also, do NOT wash your kombu. The white powdery layer on the kombu is naturally occurring and is what adds to the umami flavour when soaked.
I like to soak mine in room temperature water and leave it in the fridge overnight for best flavour.
This will yield around 3 cups of broth since the dried mushrooms and kombu will absorb some water.
WHAT CAN I DO WITH THE LEFTOVER REHYDRATED KOMBU?
You can make kombu tsukudani or simmered kombu. Kombu Tsukudani is perfect with rice or as a side since even in small quantities, it packs so much flavour. It’s traditionally quite salty so that it can last long (even with refrigeration) but I love mine with a good balance of sweet and salty so I tend to add more sugar to get it that nice sweetness to balance out the saltiness.
See my kombu tsukudani recipe here.
OPTIONAL: Vegan kimchi!
Adding some kimchi gives this dish an extra layer of flavour. You’ll basically end up with a kimchi sundubu jjigae (kimchi and soft tofu stew).
You can find my homemade vegan kimchi recipe here.
COOKING THE SUNDUBU JJIGAE
I love to use my ttukbaegi but you can use a regular pot. I just love to use this pot because it retains heat very well. So even after I turn off the fire, the jjigae is usually still boiling!
For this jjigae, I used a ttukbaegi or Korean earthenware/ceramic bowl. This bowl retains heat very well so even after turning off the heat, it’s still boiling.
And it can be used direct over open fire.
I made this in a regular pot too (see my video) but really prefer cooking and enjoying it from a Korean ttukbaegi because the bowl retains heat so well and I can cook and serve this jjigae in It.
You’ll find the full recipe for this Korean vegan sundubu jjigae below.
HOW TO ENJOY THIS SUNDUBU JJIGAE
This is best enjoyed with a bowl of steamed short grain rice. Serve this with some banchan or side dishes even Kimchi Pancakes (recipe here) for a super hearty meal! 🙂
MORE KOREAN RECIPES YOU MIGHT LOVE
- Vegan Kimchi
- Korean Beansprout Salad
- Bibim Guksu (Korean Mixed Noodles)
- Kimchi Noodle Soup with Dumplings
- Kimchi Noodle Stir-Fry
- Kimchi Pancakes or Kimchi Jeon
- Pajeon (Korean Scallion Pancakes)
Are you looking for more delicious, vegan recipes?
Get a copy of my upcoming cookbook, Vegan Asian!
If you crave vegan-friendly versions of classic Asian dishes, this cookbook is packed with Southeast and East Asian dishes inspired by those I grew up enjoying at home and those I’ve tried from my travels. From iconic Thai dishes to piping-hot Japanese fare and everything in between, the recipes in this will take your palate on a delicious food trip across Asia, and hopefully keep you coming back for more!
Vegan Sundubu Jjigae 순두부찌개 (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)
- Korean ttukbaegi (earthenware bowl) or regular pot
- 1 1/2 tbsp cooking oil or sesame oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 1/2 cup chopped scallion or green onions
- 2-3 tbsp gochugaru or korean hot pepper powder feel free to adjust according to desired spice (see notes)
- 2-3 tbsp soy sauce or to taste
- 3/4 cup vegan kimchi optional (see notes), homemade recipe here
- 1 tbsp rice wine like mirin, sake, etc. (optional)
- 1 medium zucchini , sliced into small 1/4” thick quarters
- 1 bundle fresh enoki mushrooms , 150 g
- 1 lb sliced fresh king oyster or shiitake mushrooms , feel free to use rehydrated shiitake mushrooms (see notes)
- 3 cups mushroom-kombu broth or vegetable broth (see notes)
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
- 1 lb sundubu or soft tofu or silken tofu (mine was in a tube)
- Prepare the broth: I like to cut through the kombu using a pair of scissors. I fold mine in half and cut around five 1” (2.5 cm) cuts on each side.Also, do NOT wash your kombu. The white powdery layer on the kombu is naturally occurring and is what adds to the umami flavour when soaked.I like to soak the mushrooms and kombu in room temperature water and leave it in the fridge overnight for best flavour.This will yield around 3 cups of broth since the dried mushrooms and kombu will absorb some water.
- Another option is to boil the mushrooms and kombu in water for 10-15 minutes and leave it to sit for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and kombu from the broth.
- Slice the veggies and other mushrooms you're using.
- Prepare your sundubu or soft tofu. If using sundubu in a tube, slice the tube in half (or follow the dotted lines), and slice the tofu into a few pieces.If using a block of sudubu, carefully remove it from the tray of water and slice into a few pieces. Note that you can opt not to slice the tofu and simply break them into smaller pieces when placing in the stew later on.
- Heat a medium sized pot or a Korean ttukbaegi over medium.
- Once hot, add in the oil.
- Sauté the onion and scallions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until translucent and cooked through.
- Add in the garlic, gochugaru and/or gochujang, and soy sauce. Cook for 2 minutes. Add in kimchi (if using) then saute for 2-3 minutes. Add in the rice wine (if using) over high heat until it slightly evaporates.Afterwards, add in the king oyster or shiitake mushrooms, and some of the enoki mushrooms then sauté for a few minutes until lightly cooked through, around 3 minutes.
- Add in the zucchini and mix well.
- Pour in the vegetable broth or water.
- Cover the pot and leave to boil over medium high heat, around 7 minutes.
- Once the zucchini and mushrooms are cooked through, taste soup and season with more salt as needed.
- Add in the soft tofu and remaining enoki mushrooms on top then leave to boil for 2-3 more minutes.
- Enjoy while hot with some steamed rice, kimchi pancake (recipe here), and Korean banchan (side dishes) like kimchi and kongnamul (bean sprout salad).
- you can add some kimchi to this stew to make a sundubu kimchi jjigae! The kimchi adds a nice layer of flavour and extra texture. Fermented kimchi really works best for the best flavour. I have a vegan kimchi recipe here.
- If using only dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrate additional pieces to add to your jjigae. Remember not to discard the water since you can add this to the soup base/broth!
- If you don’t have gochugaru, feel free to use gochujang, which is the fermented chili paste. You may just have to adjust the soy sauce and lessen it a little since some gochujang brands are heavily salted.
- If you don’t have kombu, you can use just dried mushrooms. You can also just use vegetable broth or use water and add a vegetable cube or bouillon and dissolve it in the soup base.
- Feel free to season with more salt or soy sauce, to taste if needed.