Vegan Sundubu-Jjigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)
This warming and comforting stew is one of the moist representative dishes of Korean cuisine. It’s traditionally made with seafood or thinly sliced meat, but today I want to share with you my flavour-packed vegan version. The king oyster mushrooms and enoki mushrooms add a really nice texture, while the soft tofu adds a delicate creaminess which is complemented perfectly by the warming Korean spices. This delicious stew is gluten-free, easy to prepare and can be made in around 30 minutes!
WHAT IS SUNDUBU JJIGAE
Sundubu-jjigae is a Korean stew made with a variety of ingredients. The dish is typically made with freshly curdled soft tofu (which has not been strained and pressed), mushrooms, vegetables and seafood or meat. The base of the stew is made with an intensely savoury broth which is flavoured with kelp, lots of garlic, gochujang (Korean chili paste) or gochugaru (Korean chili flakes). The dish is assembled and cooked directly in the serving vessel, which is traditionally made of thick, robust porcelain and It’s served with a bowl of cooked white rice and a variety of side dishes. This stew tends to be quite spicy, though I think my recipe is modest on the heat scale. If you’d like your stew to be less spicy you can reduce the amount of gochujang to ½ tbsp.
WHY YOU'LL LOVE THIS STEW
This stew is packed with flavour, it's comforting and incredibly easy to prepare! Serve it with a bowl of steamed short grain rice and some side dishes such as kimchi or Korean potato pancakes for an easy and delicious meal!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Silken tofu or soft tofu - silken tofu is easy to find and it’s sold in most supermarkets, so this is what I’ve used in my recipe. You can also use the soft tofu that comes packaged in a long cylinder tube. The important thing is that the tofu you use has not been strained or pressed. The silken tofu gives the stew a delicate texture and adds a subtle creaminess which contrasts beautifully with the spicy broth.
Mushrooms - I’ve used a combination of king oyster mushrooms (also known as king trumpet or eryngii mushroom) and enoki mushrooms. The king oyster mushrooms have a really dense, meaty texture so they make a lovely replacement for the meat, but if you’re unable to find this mushroom you could also use another meaty mushroom such as portobello mushrooms. The enoki mushrooms add a really nice stingy texture, but if you’re not a fan of stringy textures, then you can omit this ingredient.
Gochugaru and Gochujang - the gochujang (Korean chili paste) adds a really nice warmth to the broth and the gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) add a pleasantly spicy, sweet and slightly smoky taste. My recipe is mild on the heat scale, but you can adjust these two ingredients according to your personal taste.
Kelp - kelp is naturally quite salty so it adds an extra layer of umami to this stew.
Kimchi - kimchi is a spicy fermented cabbage that is slightly sour and packed full of umami so it gives this dish an extra layer of flavour. What’s even better is that kimchi is a probiotic powerhouse and it’s rich in vitamins and minerals, so even more reason to use it!
Extra-large pot or Dutch oven – if you don’t have a porcelain cooking pot, I would recommend that you prepare this stew in a Dutch oven or heavy metal pot.
HOW TO MAKE SUNDUBU JJIGAE
Add the kombu, dried shiitake mushrooms, stock cube and hot water to a large pot and let it simmer on a medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the oil to a large cast iron pot and let it heat up. Add the gochujang, gochugaru, garlic and sliced spring onions and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the king oyster mushrooms and sauté for 3 more minutes until lightly browned. Stir in the kimchi, sliced napa cabbage and soy sauce.
Remove the kombu and dried shiitake mushrooms from the broth and pour the broth into the cast iron pot. Cover the pot and leave to boil over a medium-high heat, for about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Add the tofu and enoki mushrooms on top on the stew, then leave it to boil for 2-3 more minutes. Gently stir so the tofu breaks up little.
Serve while hot with a garnish of spring onions and a side of steamed rice and kimchi.