Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae  - Soft Tofu Stew

Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae  - Soft Tofu Stew

Jjigae. Ddukbokki. Japchae. And the more familiar, bibimbap. Music to my ears. It's not the names that make me chuckle as it does for some, but freaking out my auto correct as I'm writing this post because it thinks I can't spell a dang thing puts a smile on my face. 

I've noticed that many "halfies" like myself have lived daringly by slightly altering traditional childhood recipes. Really for me, it's about using what I normally stock in my kitchen and punching up the flavors that I love about the dish. As my momma says, "It must be a generational thing to add that much garlic to everything".

Works for me. 

There are a lot of ingredients. This is because we're going to make a layered and bold flavored stew: Soft tofu, sour kimchi plus the juice, pork belly, white onion, green onion, mushrooms, green beans, garlic, fish sauce, doenjang, gochugaru, sesame seed oil, salt to taste, sesame seeds and an egg.  

Chop your veggies. The possibilities are endless for the type of vegetables you could use. No matter what you choose though, keep the white and green onions and garlic in the mix. 

Cut your pork belly, also known as samgyupsal, into about 1/2 inch pieces. This is used to flavor the broth because of the fatty deliciousness it has. Beef and chicken would work as a substitute too. 

Now, this is an onggi. It's kind of a clay pot that gets stupid hot and is amazing for stews because it keeps the contents to a roaring boil for a long time. Get this heated to medium high heat. 

A heads up that you will have bits of a splattering mess while cooking this, so light colored garments might not be a good idea. 

Put in your pork belly and leave it alone for about 3 minutes to get brown. 

Stir it around and let the other side brown for another couple of minutes. 

Toss in your white onions and stir for a couple minutes.

The green beans are next. With whatever vegetable you choose, put in the veggies that cook longer in first. This soup is going to boil for awhile, and you don't want a mushy consistency. 

Sour kimchi time. You want that pungent "what the heck is in your fridge" smell for this type of stew. If you try to use fresh kimchi, you will not come close to the satisfaction of what jjigae can offer you. Stir everything around for a couple minutes. 

Also important are these next ingredients. They make the broth taste spicy, sour, bitter, and earthy all at the same time. And in this dish, broth is king. 

The fish sauce is my biggest substitution to avoid boiling some seaweed and anchovies for a long period of time. 

Add the sour kimchi juice, fish sauce, sesame seed oil, and gochugaru to the mix. 

Put the garlic and doengang in and mix everything around. The doengang will soften when the soup is boiling.

Add the mushrooms, then fill your pot with water.

It should come pretty close to the top of the pot. You can definitely use chicken stock instead if you have some. Mix everything around. 

Time to boil the bejeezus out of this for about 30 minutes. This step is pretty important because this stew needs time for all the ingredients to get along with each other. This is also why you add a lot of liquid, because some will evaporate. Leave the pot uncovered. 

After 30 minutes, gently add the soft tofu. This is break up very easily, so stir your stew a few times before you add this. Turn off the heat at this point.

If you ordered this in a Korean restaurant, the stew would come to you at this point, still boiling, and you'll be asked if you want a raw egg added. Say yes. The egg will completely cook, even off the heat. Mix it around a little as soon as the egg drops in to break up the yolk.

Top of this fire in a pot with chopped green onions and sesame seeds, and you have my version of Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae. 

Serve this with some rice. Banchans are welcome of course. Soju is always a good idea too. This stew is not for sissies. It's for the citizens of bold flavor-ville. My kind of town.


Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae - Soft Tofu Stew | About 2 servings

11 oz. Soft tofu
½ cup sour kimchi, rough chopped
3 Pork belly strips, ½ inch pieces
Half of small onion, thinly sliced
½ cup Green beans, cut in half
½ cup Mushrooms, sliced thinly
3-4 Garlic cloves, minced
2 Green onion stalks, ½ inch pieces
½ cup sour kimchi juice
1 ½ Tablespoon fish sauce
1 Tablespoon gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
1 Tablespoon doenjang (Korean bean paste)
1 Tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 ½ cup water
1 egg
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Salt to taste


  1. In a medium-high heat pot, crisp up and brown the pork belly about 3 minutes each side.
  2. Stir in the white onions and green beans for a couple minutes.
  3. Add the sour kimchi and stir for a couple minutes.
  4. Mix in the fish sauce, sesame seed oil, sour kimchi juice, gochugaru, doenjang, and garlic to the pot. Stir everything around.
  5. Add water, up to about ½ and inch to the top of the pot. Boil for about 30 minutes.
  6. Gently add large chunks of soft tofu and turn off the heat. Carefully taste the broth to see if you want more salt.
  7. Add an egg right before serving and immediately break the yolk.
  8. Top with green onions and sesame seeds. Serve with rice.