Spicy Korean Soft Tofu Stew Soondubuchigae

Like many Korean stews, soondubuchigae can be adjusted for very different spice levels and flavor preferences. Many Korean people like their soondubu with pork and kimchi, and I do admit that it’s a delicious combination. But most of the time I crave it with clams, kimchi, and an anchovy base. I used shrimp, clams, and pork in the version in the photograph, and added enoki mushrooms at the end. In restaurants, soondubuchigae is served in traditional earthenware bowls while bubbling hot. Raw egg is added to the stew and folded into the contents to cook from the heat within the bowl.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
3 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 lb or 1 cup beef or pork (thinly sliced)
½ Tbsp garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp red pepper powder (kochukaru)*
2 cups anchovy stock, beef stock, or water
3 cups soft tofu**
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 lb unshucked clams or 1 cup shucked clams, rinsed
2 scallions, sliced
Eggs (optional)
In a soup pot, stir-fry the beef, garlic, and kochukaru in the sesame oil for about five minutes.

Add anchovy or beef stock or water and soy sauce to the pot.

Bring to a simmer.

Add soft tofu and return to simmer.

Add clams and simmer until the clams are cooked, about 10 minutes, until they shrink, or until the shells open (if using unshucked).

Add scallions and take off heat.

(Serves 4).

* This tofu stew can be made completely mild to very spicy. I’ve listed a medium amount in this recipe, about what I would consider to be the standard spiciness. Soft tofu stew with no spice is referred to as ‘white’ in Korean restaurants (for the color of the stew, not the people who eat it).

**Uncoagulated tofu is usually sold in tubes, but you can use silken tofu if you can’t find the really soft stuff. Just slice it into small cubes and cook as directed.

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