Seafood SoonDuBu Chigae (해물순두부찌개)

Do you have a go-to soup, one that sparks your taste buds and enlivens your mood regardless of the time of hangover day or weather? I do.

I love Korean food, and I’m not just saying it because I’m Korean. There is just a myriad of complementing and contrasting flavors, making it impossible to get sick of or dislike and I have not yet encountered (nor do I have yet to encounter) a single person that does not like love SoonDuBu Chigae (순두부찌개), or soft tofu stew. It’s hearty, spicy, wholesome comfort food at its very finest. Plus, it reminds me of my childhood – like grilled cheese and tobasco-drenched ketchup and whaddayaknow – similarly, everybody loves a good grilled cheese.

It’s almost as quick and easy to make as a grilled cheese (minus the shrimp cleaning, clam rubbing, and vegetable chopping). I promise! If you’re looking to broaden your culinary horizons or simply looking for your next Korean fix, this is it. Even if shrimp & clams aren’t for you, this is the type of soup that has multiple variations and versions (most popularly, mushroom or pork or beef or hell, even spam). Trust me, you’ll be hooked.

Seafood SoonDuBu Chigae (해물순두부찌개)
Adapted from my 삼촌할머니 (Grandma’s sister-in-law)
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 pack soft tofu (순두부)
1/2 cup kimchi, preferably fermented for flavor & roughly chopped
1 tbspn garlic, minced
1 tbspn brine shrimp paste, or fish sauce
1/2 lb clams, rubbed and cleaned
1/2 lb baby shrimp, cleaned and de-veined
1 egg (necessary for authentic SoonDuBu, which I regrettably forgot to add)
1/2 onion, sliced

1/3 zucchini, halved and sliced
1 pack enoki mushrooms, ends sliced off
1/3 leek, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
1 1/3 cup dashi* or water
1-2 tbspns Korean red pepper flakes (고추까루)**
1-2 tbspns sesame oil
1 tbspn Korean red pepper paste (고추장)*
1 tbspn soy sauce, or to taste if using water instead of dashi
salt, to taste

Preparation:

Add sesame oil, kimchi, red pepper flakes, onion and garlic in a small pot over medium-high heat. (If using pork or beef, add at this time as well.)
Once well-sauteed and red, add dashi or water with soy sauce.
When the soup is beginning to boil, add the seafood (shrimp & clams)
Let simmer for a few minutes, then add the zucchini, leek, mushroom, brine shrimp paste or fish sauce, and red pepper paste.
Allow to simmer for another couple minutes before adding the soft tofu.
Break the tofu into smaller pieces within the soup and add salt to taste.
Finally, crack a raw egg into the stew (the egg will poach within the stew) before serving & enjoying with rice.

* Dashi is a simple broth or stock typically made of kelp or small fish. Dashi & Korean Red Pepper Paste can be found in Asian grocery stores.
** Korean Red Pepper Flakes must not be substituted with American Red Pepper Flakes (as used on pizza), the flavor will not be the same. This also can be found in Asian/Korean grocery stores.

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