Sundubu jjigae (순두부찌개) or Soon Tofu is a hot and spicy jjigae (Korean stew) dish made with uncurdled dubu (tofu), seafood (oysters, mussels, clams and shrimp are common ingredients), vegetables, mushrooms, onion, scallions, and gochujang or gochu garu (chili powder) in Korean cuisine. The dish is assembled and cooked directly in the serving vessel, which is typically made of thick, robust porcelain, but can also be ground out of solid stone. A raw egg is put in the jjigae just before serving, and the dish is delivered while still bubbling vigorously. This dish is eaten with a bowl of cooked white rice and several banchan (side dishes).
Korean immigrants in Los Angeles originated Sundubu jjigae or Soon Tofu in 1990s. Hee Sook Lee, a first-generation Korean immigrant first arrived in Los Angeles with two of her three sons in 1989. She left behind her husband and 18-month-old son so that she and the other two sons, 5 and 7 at the time, could get an education. She decided to open a restaurant. To differentiate her eatery from the seemingly endless array of restaurants lining the streets of Koreatown, Hee Sook Lee decided she would serve just one simple tofu dish, soon-dubu -- a common, cheap lunch dish with chunks of white tofu submerged in a bubbling bright-red soup saturated with spices.
Hee Sook Lee took to the kitchen, spending long nights experimenting with different spices and condiments. From the commonplace stew, she conjured up 12 varieties with different types of meat and flavors. She brainstormed ways to customize the dish like a cup of coffee, offering four degrees of spiciness, with or without monosodium glutamate. After about a year of preparation and some advertising, Hee Sook Lee opened her first BCD Tofu House on Vermont Avenue in April 1996. It is the first Soon Tofu specialty restaurant. The name is short for Buk Chang Dong, a neighborhood in Seoul where her in-laws once ran a restaurant. Ten months after the first restaurant opened, Hee Sook Lee opened a second BCD Tofu House in Koreatown. Ten months after that, she opened a third in Garden Grove. Just two years into the business, Hee Sook Lee began to export her Soon Tofu to South Korea. Even at this rate, Hee Sook Lee hasn't been able to open branches fast enough to keep up with the demand, and numerous imitators took advantage of the opportunity. Now Soon Tofu is hugely popular in Korea.
- 12 dried anchovies
- 1/3 cup of kelp, half onion, 5 cloves of garlic, 3 shiitake mushrooms
- 100 grams of beef, 1 cup of mixed seafood, 3 shrimp
- 2 green onions, 1 green chili pepper
- 2-5 tbs of hot pepper flakes
- olive oil, sesame oil, 2 tubes of soon du bu
- 2 tbs of fish sauce, and 2 eggs
Prepare stock to make tasty Soon du bu:
- Pour 5 cups of water into a pot and add 12 dried anchovies after removing intestine part.
- Add half onion, some dried kelp (about 1/3 cup), 3 dried shiitake mushrooms, 5 cloves of garlic and boil it over high heat.
- Approximately 10 minutes later, lower the heat to low medium heat and boil it for another 20 minutes.
- Set aside the stock and take out the mushrooms and chop them into small pieces.
- Heat your earthen ware (or ceramic pot) on the stove and put 2 ts of olive oil.
- Chop 100 grams of beef and put it into the pot and stir it.
- Add the chopped shiitake mushroom and stir it.
- Add 2 tbs – 5 tbs (1/4 cup) of hot pepper flakes and keep stirring for 1 minute.
- 2 tbs—mild
- 3 tbs—medium
- 4 tbs—hot
- 5 tbs (1/4 cup)—suicidal hot !
- Pour 2 cups of the stock you made. It will be sizzling. Don’t be afraid! It’s just TOFU stew!
- Add 1 cup of mixed seafood and 3 shirimp.
- Add 2 tbs of fish sauce.
- Cut the 2 tubes of Soon du bu (soft Tofu) in half and squeeze it out into the pot and break the tofu with a spoon several times in the pot.
- When it boils, add 2 chopped green onions and 1 green chili pepper.
- Crack eggs and drizzle some sesame oil before serving.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sundubu jjigae.|
- "Sundubu jjigae (순두부찌개)" (in Korean). Empas/EncyKorea. Retrieved 2008-04-08.
- "Soondubu jjigae (soft tofu stew)". Retrieved 2013-11-28.