Tuesday, June 9, 2020

[Food] Soondubu-Jjigae (순두부찌개, Soft Beancurd Stew)


[Food] Soondubu-Jjigae (순두부찌개, Soft Beancurd Stew)

Soondubu-Jjigae (순두부찌개, Soft Beancurd Stew)

When you go to any Asian restaurant and Asian market to look for beancurd you might see somewhat like the following :)

Typical beancurd one would think of when hearing the word 'beancurd' or 'tofu'. It often looks like a white cube of soap

How many of you know of other types of beancurd? It's not a surprise that there are more types of beancurd as there are a lot of types of cheese or chocolate. Beancurd is called 'Dubu' in Korean, and there are 2 more types called 'Soondubu (Soft beancurd)' and 'Yeondubu (Silken beancurd)'. They are made in the same way as common beancurd, but the difference lies in its firmness and coagulation.

Dubu is the hardest, soondubu is softer and yeondubu is the softest as its English name 'Silken' attests :)

Freshly-made Soondubu (Soft beancurd)

Yeondubu (Silken beancurd)

Soondubu is usually used for stew (which is the topic of this article) and ice cream (a famous dessert in Gangneung province, Korea) or eaten alone with soy sauce. Yeondubu is eaten with soy sauce or used in salads and deep-fry (a typical Japanese food is deep-fried yeondubu, called 'Karaage Tofu')

Soondubu ice cream (Soft beancurd ice cream) in Gangneung

Yeondubu (Silken beancurd) with soy sauce

Yeondubu (Silken beancurd) salad

Today, I want to introduce you to Soondubu-Jjigae (순두부찌개, Soft Beancurd Stew) one of the typical dishes in Korea which is lesser well-known to non-Koreans. Koreans who love hot, spicy and savory (or salty) food with hot soup invented hot and spicy stew with soondubu. Fresh prawns, shells, red chili and minced pork with hot and spicy soup is more than enough to quench a Korean's appetite and let them sit in front of the dinner table with a bowl of rice and kimchi

Freshly-made soondubu (Soft beancurd)

Spicy soondubu-jjigae with pork

Koreans usually prefer soondubu-jjigae with seafood in it including shells, shirimps and squid because seafood gives a refreshing and deep flavor. To cook soondubu-jjigae, we need to make a spicy chili sauce in ttukbaegi (뚝배기, Korean earthen pot) with oil, red chili powder, chopped spring onion and minced pork, soy sauce and salt :) Then pour seafood stock into the sauce with the seafood and boil it until it is completely cooked. Garnish it with minced garlic and black pepper powder :)

It sounds very simple but the spicy chili sauce and seafood stock is the key to a delicious soondubu-jjigae :) Every Korean restaurant has its own secret soondubu-jjigae recipe.

Soondubu-jjigae doesn't always need to be spicy :) there is non-spicy soondubu-jjigae too

Soondubu-jjigae is always a typical lunch or supper dish though it's usually more popular in winter when good-quality seafood is in the market and people want a hot and warm stew. I'd also rather eat soondubu-jjigae in autumn or winter, because I don't want to sweat like a pig whilst eating soondubu-jjigae in the hot summer.

Soondubu-jjigae with doenjang (Korean bean paste) stew

The funny thing is that it's very hot summer in Korea but I cooked soondubu-jjigae yesterday because I missed this spicy and hot stew with soondubu (LOL). I don't sweat thanks to an excellent air conditioner :)

Bon Appétit!