I’ll be back soon, my darlings, soon


Yeesh, talk about an overdue post – this one is a few weeks in the making! About a week and a half ago I received an email from a reader asking if I had a recipe for a particular Korean dish called ‘soon doo boo jji gae‘ – a spicy stew that is made with soft silken tofu to create a deliciously refreshing broth. Not a difficult request, as we’d just made it the week before and I’d photographed it to have it ready to go, but having been ill these past few weeks, my good intentions to have it posted up ASAP fell by the wayside.

Kids, if you haven’t learnt by now, let me tell you again – smoking is bad for your health. Not only in the ways it directly affects your body, but in a multitude of secondary effects as well. Am trying my darndest to quit, down to 1-2 cigs a day and I’m confident that once I finish my study, I’ll be able to give the little fuckers up for good…

Anyway, back to the food!

Jji-gae‘ is a word used to describe a particular kind of broth that I can’t quite find a replacement for in English. Unlike your typical soups and broths, a jji-gae is often quite intense in flavour, and not designed to be eaten solely on its own, but as an accompaniment to a bowl of rice and banchan (side dishes). Unlike ‘gook’ (soup), it is traditionally made in a small, heavy stone pot, and each portion is usually quite small and served alongside the rice, and instead of mixing the rice into the dish, is eaten by the spoonful after a mouthful of rice to help ‘wet’ the throat. Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, just the most common way of eating it :)

Soon Doo Boo Jji-Gae - Spicy Silken Tofu stew

Now, the main component of this dish is silken tofu, but you must be careful when purchasing the tofu to use here as it comes in a range of consistencies. Firstly, be sure that it is silken tofu that you’re purchasing, and not regular or strained/firm tofu as they are very different in texture and not used interchangeably. Silken tofu has a much softer and creamier mouthfeel than other varieties, though this will vary according to the firmness of the silken tofu which is purchased.

For use in this dish, try and buy the silken tofu in a tub from a Chinese/Korean grocery store – I’m yet to see this particular kind of tofu stocked outside of Asian grocery stores, and the firmer pressed silken tofu in vaccuum-sealed packages available at supermarkets will not work. What you want is a tofu which almost has no structural integrity of its own – the right kind will wobble like barely-set jello, and when you cut into it with a spoon, will have next to no resistance.

Once you have acquired your ‘soon doo boo‘ (Korean word for this type of silken tofu) and have your gochugaru (ground red pepper) ready, you’re pretty much ready to go :)

Oh, and one final note – other than the inclusion of the tofu and ground red pepper, you can do pretty much anything to this dish, so it can easily be altered according to tastes – vegetarian/vegan/seafood/meats, anything is possible here :)

Soon Doo Boo Jji-Gae - Spicy Silken Tofu stew

Soon Doo Boo Jji-gae
(Spicy Silken Tofu Stew)

Approx 150g protein*
1/2 tsp sesame oil
500-600g soft silken tofu
1/2 – 3/4 cup water (depending on how watery you want it)

Yang Yohm Jjang
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
1 spring onion, washed and sliced
1 tbsp gochugaru (ground red pepper)


Now, depending on what protein you’ll be using in addition to the tofu in the dish, the ingredients and preparation can vary at this point, so I’ve added this as a separate table:

Seafood Beef/Pork Mushrooms
  • 150g seafood (e.g. baby squid, prawns, pipis, mussels etc)
  • 2 tsp gochugaru (ground red pepper)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Mix everything together and proceed

  • 150g beef or pork (or combination of both), thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp gochugaru (ground red pepper)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Mix together the gochugaru, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil then massage well into the meat.

  • 150g firm Asian mushrooms (e.g. enoki and shiitake)
  • 2 tsp gochugaru (ground red pepper)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Mix everything together and proceed

    1. Preheat a high-sided pot (great if you have the traditional stoneware but don’t worry if you don’t!) over medium heat and add a little (about 1/2 tsp) sesame oil and allow it to heat up. Add the prepared protein of your choice (though I’ve listed them all seperately, there’s no reason you can’t mix and match as you wish, just restrain yourself from adding too much as the main component of this dish *is* the tofu) and saute till your protein is about half-cooked.

    2. Add between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup of water (depending on how watery you want it) to the pot and bring it to the boil. Once it is bubbling, use a tablespoon to carefully spoon the tofu onto the top of the mixture. Lower the heat to about low-medium and slowly bring to the boil with the lid on, leaving it for about 30-45 minutes or till the tofu has cooked through.

    3. At this point, you can give it a taste and add more gochugaru, salt, crushed garlic and sliced spring onion to taste, mixing it in before serving, or you can follow the traditional method of creating a mixture known as ‘yahng yomh jjang’, a flavouring mix which is served alongside the broth, allowing each eater to add more season to their own tastes.

    To make the yang yohm jjang, mix together all the listed ingredients, then place in a small sauce bowl to be served next to the stew

    4. Serve this while piping hot, either in the stone bowl or pot, or spooned into seperate serving bowls, alongside bowls of rice and banchan :) For a great hangover ‘cure’, once this has been removed from the heat, immediately crack open and add a fresh, raw egg, stirring it in!

    [tags]soup, broth, Korean cuisine, recipes, traditional, Asian, silken tofu[/tags]


    Others who have tried this recipe:


    1. thank you for sharing this recipe! i’ve noticed it blogged before and I’ve been dying to try it- and finally did today! I LOVED IT!!! Thank you!!

    2. Caroline says:

      It was delicious!! I made your jja jang myun recipe last night and since it was soooo good, I couldn’t wait to try another one of your recipes so I made this one tonight. Yum, yum, yum! Thanks a lot for this great recipe. Please post more Korean recipes…thanks! 😛
      Btw I am not Korean but my husband is and he too really loved both meals

    3. Thanks Naoko and Caroline, I’m so glad that you both enjoyed this recipe :) This is actually one that was passed onto my mother from her mother (my grandmother), who has now passed away, so it’s very special to both of us :)

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