Pork Kimchi Sundubu Jjigae (Soft Tofu Stew) Recipe
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Pork Kimchi Sundubu Jjigae (Soft Tofu Stew) Recipe

Hey everyone, it’s Kevin here! Today I have for you a recipe for one of my new favorite Korean dishes, sundubu jjigae (soft tofu stew)!

Before working on this recipe, I’d only had one other jjigae (Korean stew) before, and that was kimchi jjigae that Sierra had made for me. It was so simple and delicious that when Sierra suggested I make a recipe for a similar dish, sundubu jjigae, I was more than happy to oblige. This recipe only takes about 30 minutes to make but tastes incredible because of the layering of the flavors. At its core, sundubu jjigae literally means soft tofu stew, but I added pork and kimchi as well to incorporate more complementary flavors that help elevate the dish.

sundubu jjigae

How Layering of Flavors Elevates This Dish

What I mean by layering of flavors is adding complementary flavors at different stages of cooking to create a more complex and elevated flavor profile but preserves the essence of the dish.

The first component of this is incorporating ingredients that complement each other in flavor. For a simple sundubu jjigae, the soup base is usually made with water or anchovy stock seasoned with gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes). An ingredient that naturally complements gochugaru is kimchi because like gochugaru, it is slightly spicy, but it also brings in flavors of sweetness and sourness.

To further highlight the hint of sweetness added by the kimchi, I used lightly caramelized onions. Caramelized onions are an easy way to add a bit of sweetness to any soup or stew without resorting to using sugar. The sweetness of caramelized onions is more subtle and complex than that of sugar and only gets better the longer it cooks. Finally, the pork adds some welcome richness to this otherwise vegetarian dish.

sundubu jjigae

The second component of layering the flavors is adding the ingredients in stages instead of all at once. You could definitely just throw the onions, pork, kimchi, garlic, and gochugaru into the pot at the same time, but it won’t taste nearly as good.

Onions taste better the longer they are cooked, so by cooking them first, they get a chance to caramelize and impart that rich yet subtle sweetness to the jjigae. Adding the garlic and gochugaru and frying quickly allows the flavors in them to release before the heavier ingredients are incorporated.

Kimchi is added before the pork so that it can be fried independently. Frying the kimchi reduces the sourness while bringing out the sweetness in the kimchi. It’s a great way to use old kimchi that has fermented too much!

Pork is added last so it has a chance to absorb all the flavors of the onion, garlic, gochugaru, and kimchi while it fries. All of these flavors layered together form an amazing base for our jjigae. All that’s left to do is add the stock (and kimchi brine for even more flavor!) and simmer for a bit to let those flavors meld into the stock!

sundubu jjigae

Tips

This pork kimchi sundubu jjigae recipe is super easy, but here are a few things to keep in mind to help you get it perfect on the first try!

  • Make sure to get the right tofu! This recipe probably works with other types of tofu as well, but then it wouldn’t be sundubu jjigae.
sundubu jjigae tofu
Sundubu (extra soft tofu)
  • After you add the tofu, try not to stir too much anymore to avoid breaking the tofu into tiny pieces. Because the tofu is extremely soft, it is really easy to break.
  • Take the time to lightly caramelize the onions! It may be tempting to save a few minutes and just fry the onions until translucent, but it is well worth the extra time because it will result in a much more developed flavor. You can use the extra few minutes to get the rest of your ingredients ready.
  • If possible use stock instead of water for the base. Koreans typically use anchovy stock that they make at home for the base, but for the sake of accessibility, chicken stock or vegetable stock works just as well!
  • Eat with rice! Koreans always eat their jjigaes with rice. It tastes amazing. Trust me.

After make this pork kimchi sundubu jjigae, it’s quickly become one of my go-to Korean dishes. It’s quick and easy to make and has such an incredible flavor. Let’s get started on the recipe!\

sundubu jjigae

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Pork Kimchi Sundubu Jjigae

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Kevin Lee Course: Main CourseCuisine: KoreanDifficulty: Easy
Servings

2

servings
Prep time

3

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

Sundubu jjigae is one of the most popular stews in Korea and for good reason. It is so easy to make but packed with amazing flavors and textures and pairs beautifully with a simple bowl of rice!

Ingredients

  • 11 ounces extra soft tofu (you can find it in any Korean supermarket; it comes in a tube)

  • 4 ounces pork (any cut of pork will do; Korean supermarkets usually have “pork for stew”)

  • 1/4 onion (white or sweet)

  • 1 tablespoon oil

  • 2 teaspoons gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes; adjust to your preferred spice level)

  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)

  • 1/3 cup kimchi (about 10 pieces)

  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

  • 1 cup chicken stock (can use water instead)

  • 3 tablespoons kimchi brine

  • Salt (to taste)

  • 1 egg

  • 1 scallion (chopped)

  • Equipment
  • Small pot

Directions

  • Prepare the ingredients. Slice the onion from root to tip into thin slices. Cut the pork into small pieces (about 1/2 inch cubes)sundubu jjigae sliced onionssundubu jjigae pork
  • Heat up a small pot over medium-low heat. Add the oil and onions and immediately stir vigorously to coat the onions with oil. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the onions start to caramelize. Make sure to stir every few minutes and scrape off any browned bits stuck to the potsundubu jjigae caramelized onions
  • Once the onions are a bit caramelized, add the garlic and gochugaru and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the kimchi and fry for 3 minutessundubu jjigae kimchi added
  • Add the sesame oil and the pork. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the pork is cooked throughsundubu jjigae pork added
  • Pour in the chicken stock and kimchi brine and raise the heat to medium. Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add the sundubu in large chunks (I usually divide the entire tube into 4 pieces) and salt, and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes. Try to avoid stirring too much at this point so you don’t break the tofusundubu jjigae tofu added
  • Right before you turn the heat off, crack an egg into the pot. Remove from heat and garnish with chopped scallions. Serve hot with a side of rice!

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Sundubu jjigae is one of the most popular stews in Korea and for good reason. It is so easy to make but packed with amazing flavors and textures and pairs beautifully with a simple bowl of rice!

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