Soon Dubu Jigae

Soon dubu jigae is a spicy Korean tofu-based stew with seafood and a strong base of anchovies, garlic, onion, and hot pepper. It's the perfect soup for a cold day. The goal is to make it so spicy as to be almost inedible. If you visit a Korean restaurant, it is very likely to be on the menu.

Because I need to make the stew vegetarian, I amp up some of the other flavors. My main tactics are to commit to using real chilis instead of just powder and to substitute the seafood with mushrooms. For a non-vegetarian version, try Maangchi's recipe or do a Google search.


  • 3 square, 12oz boxes of silken tofu (VERY soft tofu. I get mine at a Korean market. It comes in little vacuum-packed boxes that don't need to be refridgerated.)
  • 1 or 2 clumps of oyster mushrooms (10 individual oyster mushrooms or more), coarsely chopped
  • 5 shiitake mushrooms, dried or fresh, quartered
  • 1 onion, small diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced, or more
  • 5-10 small red Thai bird peppers, chopped in half (only for the brave), minced, or made into a paste. Come on, throw the seeds in!
  • 1 T Korean red pepper powder (gochu karu). It really does taste different than the kinds of chili and hot pepper powders generally available in American grocery stores. If you do not have fresh chilis, use a lot more of this.
  • 1 T of Korean red pepper paste (gochujang), or more to taste
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 T Sesame oil
  • 2-3 T sugar, or to taste


  1. Optional: in a food processor, coarsely puree the onion, garlic, hot pepper, Korean hot pepper powder, and some vegetable oil before sauteeing until changes color. OR:
  2. In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic, and hot peppers in vegetable oil.
  3. Once the onion is translucent, add the dried chili powder and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add 4 cups water, tofu, red pepper paste, mushrooms, and salt. Cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Add salt and sugar to taste. Toss in the green onions and drizzle with sesame oil. Simmer for 10 minutes more.
  6. Optional: heat individual portions in a separate pan. Drop in one egg per person and cook briefly.




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