The Korea Herald


[Holly’s Korean Kitchen] Sundubu jjigae, Korean soft tofu soup

By Korea Herald

Published : April 9, 2022 - 16:01

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Sundubu jjigae, Korean soft tofu soup (Holly Ford) Sundubu jjigae, Korean soft tofu soup (Holly Ford)
If you can pick one soup to make out of the many Korean soups, most people would put sundubu jjigae at or near the top of their list. It’s easy to make with just a few ingredients, and the hearty and comforting taste of this Korean tofu soup is a favorite soup dish among many Koreans.

Traditional sundubu jjigae is made with seafood, such as clams, shrimp, or mussels. If you are not a seafood lover, you can use pork or beef with some mushrooms and other vegetables. If you go to Korean tofu restaurants, their menus will offer a number of different varieties of sundubu jjjgae.


- 2 tbsp oil

- 1 1/2 tbsp Korean chili flakes

- 1/3 cup sliced Asian leek, or green onion

- 450 g silken tofu

- 1/2 small onion, chopped

- 1 clove garlic, minced

- 1/2 cup chopped kimchi

- 1/2 zucchini, sliced

- 225 g fresh or frozen whole clam, or shelled (use about 110 g)

- 6 medium raw shrimp, whole or peeled

- 1 tbsp Korean soy sauce (gukganjang)

- 2 tsp Korean anchovy sauce

- 1 green onion, chopped

- 1 fresh chili, optional

- 1 egg, optional

For anchovy stock

- 3 cups water

- 5 large dried anchovy

- 1 piece dried sea kelp (dashima)


1. To make the anchovy stock, combine dried anchovies and sea kelp with water in a pot. Bring to boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Discard the sea kelp once water comes to boil. Discard the anchovies and reserve the stock.

2. If using fresh or frozen whole clams, soak them in cold water for 5 minutes. If you see that the clam shells are open, that is a good sign. Discard any clams that are closed. If using clam meat, you don’t need to soak it in water.

3. Heat oil in a 1.4-liter pot over low heat. Add Korean chili flakes and the leek (or green onion) and gently stir for 1 minute. Be careful not to burn the chili flakes.

4. Add the onion, garlic, and kimchi and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes over medium heat until soft. Add the tofu, zucchini, and seafood. Try not to break up the tofu when you scoop it out — big chunks are better than letting it break into too many small pieces.

5. Pour the stock into the pot until it barely covers the tofu and seafood, about 1 3/4 cup. Bring the soup to boil first and reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer for 4-5 minutes. Season the soup with Korean soup soy sauce and anchovy sauce. Taste the broth and season more with salt if needed.

6. Lastly, top with green onion and fresh chili (if using). Serve hot with rice and Korean side dishes (banchan).

7. Add an egg: This is an optional step, but as a finishing touch, crack an egg right over the soup at the last minute and remove the pot from the heat. The remaining heat in the pot will cook the egg. You can stir the egg to break the yolk while waiting.

By Holly Ford (


Hye-gyoung Ford (aka Holly) is a well-known Korean food blogger and the author of “Korean Cooking Favorites.” Born and raised in Korea, she has lived in many countries. She shares her recipes and food memories in her blog, Beyond Kimchee. - Ed.