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)
  • 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


  1. Once again, you've got me absolutely DROOOOOOOOOOOOOOLING over here in Springfield!!! This recipe really doesn't look too hard at all (once you find all the yummy ingredients!!). I'm wondering if I can find them in our mini K-Town over here in Fairborn.... Mmmmmmmmmmmm!!!

    1. You should be able to, they're all relatively common ingredients in Korean cooking! :D thanks for stopping by