Today’s recipe is an all-beef version of Korean spicy soft tofu stew called sundubu-jjigae. This stew is savory, spicy, comforting, delicious, and easy to make, which is why it’s so popular with Koreans and non-Koreans too.
When I was setting out to cook, write, and photograph my second cookbook, my co-writer Martha Rose Shulman suggested I make a whole sundubu chapter. She lives in Los Angeles and said that sundubu-jjigae was so popular there that my cookbook readers would love to see different versions. If you’ve ever been to a Korean sundubu-jjigae restaurant before you know that they often serve multiple variations depending on the ingredients, and give you options to control the spice level too! That’s one reason why sundubu-jjigae is so popular.
Instead of a chapter I made 3 different sundubu-jjigae recipes for my book, and Martha loved all of them. This recipe today is yet another version, an all-beef recipe (my cookbook has beef and mushrooms). I wanted to make something for all the big meat eaters among my viewers. : )
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, use vegetable stock and chopped mushrooms (or broccoli or cauliflower instead of beef) and skip the egg. When I lived in Toronto I took my Canadian friend to my favorite sundubu-jjigae restaurant. She had never had it before, and was really surprised by the raw egg in the stew. “Is it ok??” she asked. I was surprised because I’ve been eating raw eggs all my life, and feeding them to my children too. I had to reassure her that it was ok and not to worry, it would be half cooked by the stew. I like to wait until I eat a third of the stew before I dig into the egg, by that time the yolk is set nicely and half cooked.
Enjoy the stew! You can save any leftovers in the fridge up to one week, just reheat later and eat!
Serves 2 to 3
- 2 cups anchovy kelp-stock stock (or beef, chicken, or vegetarian stock), recipe below.
- 8 ounces skirt steak (or any tender cuts of beef), chopped into small pieces
- 1 medium onion (about 140 grams), diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 green onions, sliced diagonally into 1 inch long
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 tubes of sundubu (soft tofu),11 ounce each
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 eggs, optional
For spicy seasoning:
- 3 tablespoons gochu-garu (Korean hot pepper flakes)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
For anchovy kelp stock (6 cups):
- 8 cups water
- 8 large dried anchovies with the guts and heads removed
- 8 ounces peeled radish, sliced thinly
- ¼ ounce (about 10 grams) dried kelp
Make the spicy seasoning mix:
- Combine the gochu-garu, sesame oil , and ground black pepper in a small bowl and mix well with a spoon.
Make the anchovy kelp stock:
If you use premade chicken, beef, or my vegetable stock, you can skip this process.
- Place the water in a stock pot. Add the anchovies, radish, and kelp. Cover and cook for 30 minutes over medium high heat. If it boils over, crack the lid.
- You will get about 6 cups stock, but only need 2 cups for this recipe. Just keep the leftover stock in an airtight container and freeze it to use it in something else, or more sundubu-jjigae later.
- Heat a heavy pan over medium high heat. Add the cooking oil, onion, garlic, and green onion. Stir with a wooden spoon for 3 to 4 minutes until it’s a little brown and fragrant. Stir in beef for about 2 to 3 minutes until the beef is thoroughly cooked.
- Add 2 cups stock.
- Cover and cook for 6 to 7 minutes over medium heat. Open and stir in the fish sauce and salt.
- Cut the tubes of soft tofu in halves and add to the soup. Add the seasoning mixture and mix, gently breaking the tofu with the wooden spoon.
- Cover and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until bubbling. Your sundubu-jjigae is then ready to serve!
Serve 2 ways
Serve it as it is:
If you want to serve with eggs, crack one egg for each diner into the pan and let it cook for another minute without stirring or breaking the egg. Then set the pan in the middle of the table and let your family share it together with rice, kimchi, and a few more side dishes.
Serve in earthenware bowls:
Divide the stew into 2 earthenware bowls and heat them up. If you want to serve with eggs, wait til the stew starts bubbling a bit before cracking them in. Let the stew cook for another 2 minutes without stirring or breaking the egg. Serve hot right away with rice, kimchi, and a few more side dishes.