Traditional recipes

Soondubu Jjigae (Korean beef and tofu stew) recipe

Soondubu Jjigae (Korean beef and tofu stew) recipe

  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Beef
  • Beef stews and casseroles

This is an easy one-pot Korean dish made with beef mince, spring onions, tofu and Korean chilli powder. It's best cooked in a clay pot, if possible.

1 person made this

IngredientsServes: 2

  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Korean red pepper powder (gochugaru)
  • 120g beef mince
  • 600g soft tofu
  • 320ml water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 3 spring onions, sliced

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:18min ›Ready in:28min

  1. Place a clay pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, oil and red pepper power; cook and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in beef mince; cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Scoop tofu into the pot using a spoon. Add water, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Crack egg into the centre of the pot. Sprinkle spring onions on top. Simmer until egg starts to set, about 3 minutes.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(2)

Reviews in English (2)

by Buckwheat Queen

Quite tasty. The Korean pepper powder is worth the extra trip to a specialty market. Thank you for the recipe.-01 Mar 2018

  • 1 four-inch-square piece kombu (sea kelp, see note)
  • 1/2 cup small dried anchovies (optional, see note)
  • 2 cups very fermented kimchi with juice (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced pork belly or bacon (optional)
  • 6 scallions, finely sliced, greens and whites reserved separately
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane grater
  • 2 to tablespoons gochujang (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons kochukaru, to taste (Korean dried chili flakes, see note)
  • 24 ounces soft silken tofu, roughly broken
  • 4 eggs

Combine kombu and anchovies (if using) and cover with 1 quart water. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes, then strain. Discard solids and reserve broth. Meanwhile, drain kimchi in a fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl, squeezing to remove as much liquid as possible. Roughly chop kimchi and reserve kimchi and juice separately.

Heat oil in a 2 to 3 quart stone dolsot or saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add pork belly and cook, stirring constantly, until just cooked through, about 1 minute. Add scallion whites, garlic, and chopped kimchi. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add kimchi juice, gochujang, and soy sauce. Cook until vegetables are well-coated in even layer of sauce. Add strained broth, kochukaru, and soft. Stir gently and heat until boiling. Season to taste with more kochukaru or soy sauce if desired. Remove from heat and add eggs. sprinkle with scallion greens. Serve immediately while still boiling, gently stirring eggs into the broth.

What is Soondubu Jjigae?

Soondubu Jjigae (순두부찌개), also known as Soondubu Jjigae or soft tofu stew, is a Korean stew made with silky soft (uncurdled) tofu coated in a spicy and flavorful broth, to be served alongside a bowl of steamed rice.

As the name suggests, the highlight of this dish is the Soondubu, which is fresh, unpressed tofu that has high water content, making up for its extra silky velvety texture.

This type of tofu is incredibly soft and tender which easily soaks in all the flavors, and at the same time, maintaining that melt-in-your-mouth texture that this soup is known for.

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This Korean kimchi soft tofu soup has a fiery broth that infuses custardy tofu with deep flavors and spices. Traditionally served at the table boiling hot in its cooking vessel with an egg cracked in the middle, this healthy dish full of vegetables and protein warms the belly and satiates the palate.

What to buy: While you can find kimchi at many grocery stores (and it’s fine to use store-bought here), try your hand at making your own.

Korean chile paste, also known as kochujang or hot pepper paste, is a fermented mixture of glutinous rice, soybeans, and red pepper powder. It is found in jars or plastic tubs in Korean markets and will last indefinitely refrigerated in a covered container. Add spoonfuls to soups, marinades, and salad dressings for a spicy kick.

Game plan: You’ll need to make white or brown rice before you begin.

Tips for Eggs

Eggs should keep a consistent and low temperature. This is best achieved by placing their carton in the center of your fridge. The eggs should also remain in their original packaging to avoid the absorption of strong odors.

It is wise to follow the “best by” date to determine overall freshness, but eggs can be tested by simply dropping them into a bowl of water. Older eggs will float while fresh eggs will sink. This is due to the size of their air cells, which gradually increase over time.

Cooked eggs have a refrigerator shelf life of no more than four days, while hard-boiled eggs, peeled or unpeeled, are safe to consume up to one week after they’re prepared.

The beauty of an egg is its versatility. Eggs can be cooked in a variety of ways. Here are some tips in accomplishing the four most common preparations.

Scrambled: Whip your eggs in a bowl. The consistency of your scrambled eggs is a personal preference, though it seems like the majority of breakfast connoisseurs enjoy a more runny and fluffy option. In this case, add about ¼ cup of milk for every four eggs. This will help to thin the mix. Feel free to also season with salt and pepper (or stir in cream cheese for added decadence). Grease a skillet with butter over medium heat and pour in the egg mixture. As the eggs begin to cook, begin to pull and fold the eggs with a spatula until it forms curds. Do not stir constantly. Once the egg is cooked to your liking, remove from heat and serve.

Hard-boiled: Fill a pot that covers your eggs by about two inches. Remove the eggs and bring the water to a boil. Once the water begins to boil, carefully drop in the eggs and leave them for 10-12 minutes. For easy peeling, give the eggs an immediate ice bath after the cooking time is completed. For soft-boiled eggs, follow the same process, but cut the cooking time in half.

Poached: Add a dash of vinegar to a pan filled with steadily simmering water. Crack eggs individually into a dish or small cup. With a spatula, create a gentle whirlpool in the pan. Slowly add the egg, whites first, into the water and allow to cook for three minutes. Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and immediately transfer to kitchen paper to drain the water.

Sunny Side Up/Over Easy/Medium/Hard: For each of these preparations, you are cracking an egg directly into a greased frying pan. For sunny side up, no flipping is involved. Simply allow the edges to fry until they’re golden brown. To achieve an over easy egg, flip a sunny side up egg and cook until a thin film appears over the yolk. The yolk should still be runny upon serving. An over medium egg is flipped, fried, and cooked longer until the yolk is still slightly runny. An over hard is cooked until the yolk is hard.

Eggs can easily be frozen, but instructions vary based on the egg’s physical state. As a general rule, uncooked eggs in their shells should not be frozen. They must be cracked first and have their contents frozen.

Uncooked whole eggs: The eggs must be removed from their shells, blended, and poured into containers that can seal tightly.

Uncooked egg whites: The same process as whole eggs, but you can freeze whites in ice cube trays before transferring them to an airtight container. This speeds up the thawing process and can help with measuring.

Uncooked yolks: Egg yolks alone can turn extremely gelatinous if frozen. For use in savory dishes, add ⅛ teaspoon of salt per four egg yolks. Substitute the salt for sugar for use in sweet dishes and/or desserts.

Cooked eggs: Scrambled eggs are fine to freeze, but it is advised to not freeze cooked egg whites. They become too watery and rubbery if not mixed with the yolk.

Hard-boiled eggs: As mentioned above, it is best to not freeze hard-boiled eggs because cooked whites become watery and rubbery when frozen.


  1. 1 Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a tightfitting lid over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. 2 Add the chile paste, stir to combine, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the zucchini, season with salt, and stir to combine. Add the kimchi and cook, stirring occasionally, until simmering, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Taste and season with salt as needed.
  3. 3 Using a large serving spoon, add the tofu by very large spoonfuls, taking care not to break up the tofu into little bits. Gently press down on the tofu with the back of the spoon so that the broth is mostly covering it. Simmer until the tofu is heated through and the flavors have melded, about 3 minutes.
  4. 4 Crack the eggs, if using, into the simmering mixture. Cover and simmer until the whites are set, about 2 minutes. Divide the stew and eggs among 3 bowls, being careful not to break up the tofu or the egg yolks. Garnish with the scallions and serve immediately with rice on the side.

Recipe: Beef Soondubu Jjigae (순두부 찌개)

I’ve been fortunate enough that this current winter has thankfully been the mildest I’ve had in Korea yet. But we’re still talking negative double digit temps here on some nights so it’s no surprise I’ve been craving a lot of hearty and warm dishes for dinner lately.

Soondubu jjigae, or soft tofu stew, is a fine example of Korean comfort food and perfect for winter nights. Of course, even if there isn’t an arctic blast in your air outside currently, soondubu can be enjoyed in all weathers and climates.

This recipe is for a basic beef-based soondubu jjigae but it’s adaptable to your preferences and your addition/subtraction of ingredients. You can substitute the beef for shiitake mushrooms, add in some kimchi, etc.

Whatever taste you like, this is a good, basic soondubu jjigae template you can use to keep yourself warmed up as you wait out the winter!

Beef Soondubu Jjigae (소고기 순두부 찌개)

Makes approximately 2 servings

1 package of Soondubu (extra soft tofu)

(it usually comes in the mart in a tube shape like this:

– 2 tbsp of Red Pepper Flakes

– 1/4 cup of Onion, chopped into small pieces

– Handful of chopped green onions

– 1 cup of cubed Beef (usually Korean marts will sell cubed ‘stew beef’ but you can use cuts like beef skirt cut into cubes. You can also use pork)

– 1 Green Onion, roughly cut into 2 inch pieces

– 1/4 Onion, chopped into small pieces

– 1/4 cup of chopped Daikon Radish, cut into squares

– 5 small pieces of Dashima

– 10 Dried Anchovies, heads and guts removed if you wish

1. Begin by combining all the marinade ingredients with the beef cuts, mixing and setting aside

2. Broth is the secret to any good stew and soondubu is no exception. In a pot, add in the water and all the ingredients for the broth except the dried anchovies. Bring to a boil on high heat then bring down heat to medium for the next ten minutes.

During this step, you can also add in a handful of Manila Clams or baby shrimp for added flavor and taste.

3. After ten minutes, add in your dried anchovies and continue cooking for 15-20 more minutes on medium to medium-low until you get a nice pale golden broth.

Tip: Adding in the anchovies towards the end will help bring out a cleaner tasting broth, resulting in a cleaner tasting soondubu jjigae.

Discard all the broth making ingredients and set aside the broth. You should be left with roughly 2 big cups of broth.

4. Now let’s make the seasoning for the soondubu which will be done in the pot. Begin by making the chili oil. On medium heat, add the sesame oil and red pepper flakes to make the chili oil. Stir and cook for a minute.

Note: Making the soondubu jjigae from this point in an earthenware pot will help keep the jjigae nice and bubbling from stove to table, much like it comes in restaurants. I, unfortunately, don’t have an earthenware pot anymore so if you’re like me, don’t worry about using a regular, sturdy pot.

5. Raise the heat to medium high and add in your marinated beef and onions to the same pot and mix around for another minute or two. Then add in two tbsp of the broth you just made, the minced garlic, the salt and the soy sauce. Stir and cook for another minute. Your seasoning is now ready in the pot.

6. Add in the rest of the broth, stir, and bring it to a boil on high heat. During this time, taste and adjust the broth taste to your liking.

7. Cut your soondubu in half and scoop out big spoonfuls of the soft tofu and add to the broth. Crack in your egg and lower the heat to medium.

Try and adjust the egg to let it be submerged to cook faster but resist the urge to break up the tofu. After about 3-5 minutes the soup should start to boil again. At that point, turn off the heat, add your chopped green onions, and serve immediately.

Tip: Don’t worry about feeling you have to over cook the tofu. The longer you cook the tofu, the more it will draw out the water from inside the tofu resulting in a blander soondubu jjigae. Keeping the cooking time short once you add in the soondubu will allow you to simultaneously enjoy the spicy and savory flavors of the broth as well as the mellow and creamy taste and texture of the soondubu.

Korean Beef Soondubu Jigae (Beef and Soft Tofu Stew) #SundaySupper

I never really crave chicken or fish or pork like I do beef. Don’t get me wrong, I love my fish and fowl, but there’s something about the beefy flavor that always keeps me going back. You don’t even need much to impart big flavor.

My favorite cut of lean beef is flank steak. It’s a pretty versatile cut of beef. Sometimes I grill it whole, or slice it up and use it in a Thai curry or stir fry, or use it in soups. Not only do I love flank for its versatility, but also its flavor and texture.

If you prefer another lean cut of beef, just check out the Interactive Butcher on the Beef Checkoff website and look for the green lean icon. Just keep in mind, that the beef will be thinly sliced for this recipe. The Interactive Butcher is a useful tool that will also provide cooking tips for each cut of beef as well as links to nutritious and flavorful recipes.

We are sharing our beefy flavorful favorites with the Beef Checkoff. Soondubu jigae is definitely one of my favorite dishes! If you’ve ever had any form of Korean jigae, you’ll realize that it’s not really brothy like a soup and it’s not quite as thick as a stew. It’s right down the middle.

Soondubu is simply really soft tofu. It’s usually sold in a tube at Korean markets, but silken tofu is a great substitute. The more popular version of soondubu jigae is chock full of seafood. I really prefer beef soondubu jigae – heartier and full of beef and vegetables. The soup is pretty potent so it’s typically served with rice. It certainly makes for a hearty meal. To really amp up the beef flavor you can use beef broth in place of water. I use water for the sake of simplicity and ease here. I must forewarn you that this soup is really spicy, but oh so good. Oh, and stir in an egg for a little more protein and a slightly thicker soup.


  • Onion &garlic: Sauteing both as the base with the kimchi helps flavor the stew.
  • Kimchi: Technically not necessary, as there are definitely tofu stews that do not contain kimchi. BUT, add it if you have it as it gives a lot of depth to the flavor and make sure to add the juices in too!
  • Proteins: Whatever you have works here. Spam, chicken, beef, pork…really anything!! Just remember to adjust when you add it in depending on the type. Most meats I would add in the beginning after the kimchi and saute before adding in the rest of the liquid ingredients. If you’re adding in thinly sliced meats or eggs, I’d put those in at the very end and serve right when they’re done cooking. If you’re vegetarian, just use tofu and/or eggs!
  • Vegetables: So many vegetables would be delicious here. Mushrooms (enoki, shiitake, cremini, etc.), napa cabbage, zucchini, etc. It might not be traditional but during times like these when we have limited ingredients, do what you gotta do.
  • Soup base: In this recipe, I used a chicken base. Instead of chicken broth, I like using chicken base. My favorite brand is the Better Than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base. The flavor is a little more intense than chicken broth, but feel free to use whichever you have. I believe traditionally anchovy soup base is used but any broth will do the job.
  • Gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes powder): Any Korean market should have this! Check the Asian markets or the Asian aisles of your local grocery stores as well. I’ve also heard some spice sections of Target having it as well! You can add less of this if you don’t like spice, but this really gives the stew authentic flavor. For our house, 2-3 tbsp is the balance of some heat but also enough flavor from the chili flakes without overpowering. This Tae-kyung Gochugaru is my favorite and I order if off Amazon!
  • Gochujang(Korean chili paste): Any Korean or Asian market will have this. Gochujang usually comes in mild, medium, or hot spice levels, so get the one you can handle! This is where most of the heat in the soup comes from. I use the CJ Haechandle Gochujang (Hot) from my local Korean market, but it’s also available on Amazon!
  • Condiments: Mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar all add to the flavor of the soup. Feel free to omit whatever you don’t have, but if you leave out the mirin or soy sauce, make sure to salt to taste at the end!
  • Tofu: Traditionally it’s soft or silken tofu in the tofu stews. For this, I only had firm tofu and it still tasted great.


  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon Korean chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground beef (Optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Korean soy bean paste (doenjang)
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (12 ounce) package Korean soon tofu or soft tofu, drained and sliced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1 green onion, chopped

Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the Korean chile powder and ground beef. Cook and stir until the beef is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink. Stir in the soy bean paste, coating the beef. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Gently drop tofu into the soup and continue cooking until the tofu is heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and quickly add the egg into the soup, stirring gently to break it up. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion.

Sundubu Jjigae (Soft Tofu Stew)

One of the most representative dishes of Korean cuisine is sundubu jjigae (순두부 찌개), halfway between a thick soup and a juicy tofu stew.

What does sundubu jjigae mean?

In Korean cuisine, a jjigae is a simmered or braised dish. In Korean, sundubu means “tofu” but a variety of soft, fresh, undrained, unpressed tofu, commonly known as silky tofu or soft tofu. The sundubu jjigae is therefore tofu stew.

Besides the tofu jjigae, there are many variations of jjigae: made with meat, seafood or vegetables, but always between a soup and stew.

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In most cases, they are seasoned with gochujang, doenjang (soybean paste), ganjang (soy sauce) or jeotgal (fermented molluscs).

A typical Korean meal almost always includes a jjigae or a guk (soup).

Jjigae are usually named after the main ingredient, for example, kimchi jjigae. Anyone who has barely touched Korean cuisine has certainly heard of kimchi, a side dish obtained from the fermentation of napa cabbage (most traditional) seasoned with garlic, ginger, onion, chili powder and other ingredients which may vary by region.

For the sundubu jjigae, beside tofu, vegetables and a condiment called gochujang, very spicy and which gives the dish a red color, are generally added. Gochujang can be replaced with kimchi, with one of its essential ingredients called gochugaru or hot pepper powder.

Depending on the type of sundubu jjigae, other ingredients can be added, such as beef or pork, seafood (usually oysters, mussels, clams and shrimp), mandu (dumplings), dried anchovies, or kelp (seaweed).

Sundubu jjigae is served in a very hot bowl, in which you may break egg at the end of the cooking. The heat of the dish will allow the egg to cook and make the soup even better.

Sundubu jjigae is usually served with steamed white rice and several banchan, various side dishes similar to Lebanese or Greek mezze in concept.

What is tofu?

Tofu is a food of Chinese origin, produced from the curdling of soy milk. It is a white, soft, almost odorless product with a rather neutral taste, constituting an important base of Asian food, and also often consumed by vegetarians and vegans.

To talk about tofu production, one must first understand the concept of soy milk. Since cheese is made from milk, soy cheese is made from soy milk, in a slightly different process.

Soy milk is a liquid that is extracted by bringing the soybean to a boiling temperature. When soybeans are harvested, like other legumes, their seeds are dry, so they must be rehydrated before use the soybeans are then left for several hours in water until it is absorbed, then boiled so that the high temperature can extract the nutrients, including the proteins.

The soybeans are then ground to ensure that boiling water has more contact with the surface of the seeds and can extract more substances. At the end of this phase, everything is filtered, and what remains is the coarse and liquid part called soy milk.

Soy milk is a liquid composed mainly of water, but also fat and protein, which when dissolved, become solid like rennet.

Tofu is also sometimes called soy rennet. Rennet is a chemical that has the property of making proteins from a water-soluble form to an insoluble form, whereby separating them into a thick paste.

The rennets used in the production of tofu are not the same as those used in the production of cheese, since the soy and milk proteins are completely different.

As with cheese, in the soybean world there is a wide range of choices: sulphate can be used as rennet, as well as calcium chloride or magnesium sulphate, but also many others.

The choice of rennet is very important in production, since there are many types of tofu. So, once the curd is formed, it is filtered: the liquid is removed and only the solid part is retained, which is actually tofu.

The production of tofu is therefore ultimately very similar to the production of classic cheese. However, tofu is not cheese and it is not meat, but it is an excellent food from a nutritional point of view. It is nutritious and although it is rather tasteless, it is still good. It is an interesting food to use in cooking and not only for vegetarians and vegans.

Tofu is a low-calorie food that is very rich in vegetable proteins. Low in fat, it is completely free of cholesterol. In fact, 100 g of soy contains 15 g of protein, 10.5 g of fat and 1 g of carbohydrates.

Also perfect for those who suffer from celiac disease because it is gluten-free, this food can be consumed by everyone, unless specific allergies to soy have been identified.

Soondubu Jigae: Recipe Instructions

First make the anchovy stock. Place the trimmed dried anchovies, daikon radish slices, dried kelp, and dried shiitake mushrooms in a medium pot with 5 cups of water.

Bring the water to a boil. Once the stock is boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes.

After 25 minutes, strain the stock. Save the mushrooms and slice thinly to put into your soondubu.

Now you’re ready to assemble the soondubu. Heat a small pot or your handy dandy earthenware Korean stew pot over medium-high heat. It takes a few minutes for the earthenware pot to get hot–don’t rush it, as there’s a chance it could crack if heated too quickly.

Add the oil to the pot, followed by the garlic and onions. (Note, if you’re cooking these two servings in two separate individual-serving pots, you’ll have to split all the ingredients down the middle for each.)

Stir fry until the onions are translucent. Turn the heat up to high, and add the pork belly. Let brown and caramelize.

Add the kimchi, sliced mushrooms and stir to combine.

Add about 1 1/3 cups of the anchovy stock (or 2/3 cup each for the individual pots), followed by the salt, sugar, Korean chili flakes (gochugaru), and sesame oil. Stir to combine.

Next, add the silken tofu, about a quarter of a standard block or half of a tube (if you are using a Korean brand that comes in cylindrical form). Break up the tofu lightly into large chunks. Bring the soondubu to a boil.

Crack an egg over the top of each pot, and cook for 1 minute.

Top with the scallions and serve with white rice and some additional kimchi on the side.

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