Haemul Sundubu Jjigae (Seafood Soft Tofu Stew)

This bubbling hot, hearty stew is made with extra soft tofu (sundubu or soondubu) and seafood. It cooks up so fast, making it perfect for a weeknight meal!
 
Korean stew made with silken tofu
 
The Korean stew (jjigae, 찌개) made with sundubu (or soondubu, 순두부) is enormously popular both in and outside Korea. There are even tofu houses that specialize in this dish, offering several variations (seafood, meat, vegetables, combination, etc.) on the menu. For me, sundubu jjigae is a flavorful, hearty stew I can quickly whip up in less than 30 minutes, making it perfect for a weeknight meal. I always keep a package or two of sundubu in the fridge. I think you should too. Here’s a variation made with seafood (haemul, 해물)!

This haemul sundubu jjigae recipe was originally posted in February 2012. It’s updated here with new photos and minor changes to the recipe.
 
Korean stew made with soft tofu

What is sundubu (or soondubu)? 

Sundubu is unpressed tofu with high water content. It’s normally labeled as extra soft tofu in English, and also known as silken tofu. However, Korean sundubu is not exactly the same as silken tofu which usually comes in a square box and in different consistencies such as soft, firm, and extra firm. Sundubu only comes in extra soft consistency. 

Whenever I make a sundubu jjigae, I remember my trip to Gyeongju, a historic city in the southeast coast of Korea, a few years ago. It was our first meal after a long train ride from Seoul. Recommended by the hotel staff, we ate at a restaurant well-known for its freshly made sundubu which is tofu with a high water content. The bustling restaurant, which had been converted from an old traditional house, had a homey feel. They make their tofu the old-fashioned way, using maetdol (grinding stone) and seawater. Needless to say, it was unbelievably fresh and delicious – the best sundubu I’ve ever had!

sundubu (Korean silken tofu)

How to make sundubu jjigae

I like to use anchovy broth, which is typical, but beef or vegetable broth will also work well. If you have a commercially prepared anchovy packet, making anchovy broth is as easy as making a tea.

While you can always use chili oil, I simply saute some gochugaru in sesame oil to create the chili oil effect. You can then sauté whatever ingredients you are using with the chili infused oil. Using the same basic technique, you can make different variations of sundubu jjigae.

Whatever you do, let the soft tofu be the star of the dish and do not overcrowd it with a lot of other ingredients. The delicate soft tofu nicely contrasts with the spicy broth and bold flavors of chili infused oil and seafood, making a delicious stew. Who can resist this bubbling pot of hearty stew on a cold day? Or, any day?

More sundubu jjigae variations

Kimchi sundubu jjigae
Deulkkae sundubu jjigae

 
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Korean stew made with silken tofu
 
DSC 0106 350x350 - Haemul Sundubu Jjigae (Seafood Soft Tofu Stew)

Haemul Sundubu Jjigae (Seafood Soft Tofu Stew)

4.39 from 18 votes
Main Course
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 package 11 ounces sundubu (extra soft/silken tofu)
  • 2 ounces beef or pork rib eye, sirloin, pork loin or pork belly
  • 7 - 8 pieces of seafood assortment shrimp, mussels, clams, and/or oysters
  • 1/2 small zucchini 2 - 3 ounces
  • 1/4 onion 2 - 3 ounces
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 tablespoon red chili pepper flakes gochugaru- adjust to taste.
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil use a little more if using more gochugaru
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • salt to taste about 1/2 teaspoon
  • pinch pepper
  • 1 cup anchovy broth or other broth or water
  • 1 egg optional

Instructions

  • Cut the meat into small (about 1-inch long) thin strips. Clean the seafood. Cut the the zucchini into about 1-inch pieces. Dice the onion and scallion.
    Korean stew made with soft tofu
  • Add the red chili pepper flakes and sesame oil to a small pot, and place it over medium heat. Stir until the pepper flakes become a bit pasty in the heating pot. (The red chili pepper flakes burn easily, so do not preheat the pot.) 
    Korean stew made with soft tofu
  • Add the meat, onion, garlic, and soy sauce. Stir fry until the pork and onion are almost cooked, 2 - 3 minutes.
    Korean stew made with soft tofu
  • Pour in the broth (or water). Bring it to a boil and continue to boil for 3 - 4 minutes.
    Sundubu jjigae (Korean soft tofu stew)
  • Add the soft tofu in big chunks along with the zucchini. Bring to a boil again. Gently stir at the bottom of the pot once or twice so the tofu does not stick to the bottom. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes.
    Sundubu jjigae (Korean soft tofu stew)
  • Add the seafood and boil until the clams and mussels open, 2 - 3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the chopped scallion right before turning the heat off. If desired, crack an egg into the stew right before serving while it's still boiling hot.
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