Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Soondubu Chigae (Korean Tofu Soup)

So...I found my dream Soondubu Chigae recipe. If you haven't tasted this before, it's Korean tofu soup and it's amazing. I've tried making this dish a couple times in the past, and it never tasted quite right. But this time, I got it spot on and it brings me back to my high school days hanging out in KTown LA.

The key to this recipe is to make a chili-garlic sauce of sorts (gochu yangnyum). It looks an awful lot like gochujang, which is another Korean chili paste that is easily available premade and looks quite similar. However, gochu yangnyum tastes a lot lighter and will give you the flavor that you're looking for so do not take a shortcut and substitute with gochujang. The recipe for gochu yangnyum is enough for 3-4 batches of this soup so it's super easy once to make again once you get the first part down. I found the recipe here but made a few substitutions so I figured that I'd share my version.

You can get all of the ingredients at your local Korean grocer (Arirang has everything if you're in Columbus). I've listed the Korean names of all the items that aren't available at your average grocery store, so you can google image them so that you know what to look for in advance.

Adapted from Kimchimari

  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp of Korean red chili powder (gochugaru)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic OR 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar OR honey
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1 Tbsp white cooking wine (mirin, sake, michi, or sherry)
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

  1. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients EXCEPT for the vegetable oil.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add mixture above to the pan and stir constantly while it cooks for 3-4 minutes (don't let it burn!). Remove from heat.
  3. Proceed to making soup, and store the remainder of the sauce in an airtight container in the fridge. This recipe makes about 3 Tbsp and it should keep well for several weeks.

  • 1 pack (11 oz) of extra soft silken tofu (soondubu) - regular soft tofu will not do! Need the extra soft...
  • 1/2 to 1 cup broth (chicken or fish broth, or water + boullion)
  • 1 Tbsp gochu yangnyum (prepared sauce above)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp minced fermented shrimp (saewoojeot) - optional
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of veg/protein of choice, cut into small pieces (I used enoki mushrooms, bok choi, zucchini, and seafood mix)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp chopped green onions - optional
  • 1 egg

* Note: use the smallest saucepan that you own. Ideally you should make this in a tiny clay pot, but it's not the end of the world if you don't have one.
  1. Open the extra soft tofu and add it to your pot. Add just enough broth to cover the tofu. 
  2. Turn the heat on medium to start cooking your soup, then switch to low heat so that's it's constantly simmering/bubbling but not at a rolling boil. While it's heating up, stir in gochu yangnyum, soy sauce, fish sauce, and optional fermented shrimp. 
  3. Add your veg/protein, and let simmer for 5-7 minutes or until just thoroughly cooked. Add salt to taste and optional green onions.
  4. Add egg and simmer for an additional minute, then remove from heat and serve. You can break up the egg so that it cooks completely, or leave it whole but you may need to cook it for a little longer unless you're using a clay pot or enameled cast iron that retains heat well.
This weekend I'm planning to make this again, except I'll be going all out with fancy shrimp and thinly sliced ribeye. I'll be serving it with ddukbokki (spicy rice cakes) and kimchijeon (kimchi pancakes), and I'm already giddy with excitement just thinking about the food :D

Friday, September 4, 2015

Summer Trip DC: Food Summary

I'm back :D But also back to school :( We finished the OBGYN/surgery block at school and then Khoi and I spent last week in DC to visit friends and family, and so that I could show him around a bit. We were there for the best weather week of the year -- it was so incredibly beautiful there and I'm already missing the place. Here's some notable food from that week.

Frolicking at the WWII memorial

Scarlet Oak

Reunited and it feels so good uh uh uh. One of my old friends has been working at a new restaurant that just opened near Navy Yard, so I stopped by to grab lunch where she worked and catch up a bit.

Angus burger with blue cheese and harissa aioli. Khoi was in the mood for a burger so a burger he got, and I snuck a bite and it was pretty good hehe.

Lamb ragu penne. If it says lamb ragu on the menu somewhere, I will order it because its my favorite pasta sauce. I think this dish could be improved is if they used pappardelle instead of penne.

909 New Jersey Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 780-0140

Georgetown Cupcake

This place is crazy famous so I was weary to stop by since I was afraid of the line, but there was none (lucky us). Their seasonal raspberry peach cupcake was amazing and likely of the best cupcakes I've tasted, and the chocolate ganache cupcake was solid.

3301 M St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 333-8448

Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant

The restaurant at George Washington's Mount Vernon is the best tourist trap because the food is actually amazing, the vibe is so fun, and the waiters are all dressed up in colonial gear.

Colonial hoecake - corn cake with country ham, sauteed crab, and hollandaise. Think a colonial rendition of crab cake. 

Bacon-wrapped meatloaf. So bad but so good...

Shrimp and grits, featuring George Washington's Gristmill grits! As in Georgie's estate has a mill that makes grits, and they use them for this lovely dish. I wanted to buy a bag of grits as a souvenir but the shop was closed when I tried, but at least I got to experience this.

Cherry pie, since good ol' Georgie didn't chop down the tree huehue

Churning whiskey as a workout after an amazing, filling lunch

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy
Mt Vernon, VA 22121
(703) 780-0011

Le Diplomate

This restaurant has been on my list of places to visit for the longest time, from back when I lived in DC two years ago. They had just opened then and was crazy busy constantly (within a few months they had 1000+ Yelp reviews!), so I never got to stop by and we decided that we had to dine here before leaving DC this time around

Escargots with parsley, garlic butter, puff pastry, and champignon ('shrooms!). This was my first time trying escargots and these tasted...surprising is the only way I can describe it.

Pea soup with crab and creme fraiche. Now this soup was amazingly creamy and so bright and summery. I greatly enjoyed this.

Roasted duck breast with polenta, swiss chard, and cherry jus. So classic, so delicious, so perfectly cooked. This was the best dish of the night.

Bouillabaisse, it was tasty but I regretted my decision to get this because I order it quite frequently and I could've tried something else more special on the menu. But still tasty.

Strawberry charlotte with almond crumble and creme fraiche sorbet. This was amazing, I've never had a charlotte before and I would definitely order it all the time if it was on menus more often.

Very pleased after a great dinner

1601 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 332-3333

Saturday, August 8, 2015


Study break dinner date! We're one week out from finals week, so scurry :( I need to be consoled by tasty food...

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Columbus Restaurant Week 2015: Latitude 41

Columbus restaurant week takes place twice a year, once in the winter and once in the summer. I've only been to restaurant week in the winter so far (need good food to get through the dreary cold...) and was really excited for this meal. Latitude 41 is a restaurant that's part of the Renaissance Hotel downtown, and I've always wanted to dine here because the name sounds so...grand. I didn't have high expectations because their yelp reviews have been mediocre, so I was very pleasantly surprised with our experience.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

June Recent Eats

Happy July 4th, world! This post won't be July 4th related unfortunately, but I will be recapping all the fantastic food I've experienced over the past month since I finally have a two day weekend and hence some time off to update. So here goes...