Sundubu Jjigae is a spicy Korean stew that is comforting and refreshing, which is a great dish to have during cold weathers. The soft tofu goes well with the spicy broth to warm your body from within.
What is Sundubu Jjigae?
Sundubu can also be spelt as soondubu, referring to soft tofu, while Jjigae is a Korean word that refers to stew. So Sundubu Jjigae is a soft tofu stew that typically contains soft tofu, meats or seafood, and vegetables. The basis of sundubu is uncurdled tofu, which is tofu that has not been strained or pressed. It is much softer than other types of tofu, with texture as soft and silky as scrambled eggs.
The common meats used in this dish are beef, pork, oysters, and shrimps. Examples of vegetables that go well with Sondubu Jjigae is onions, scallions, garlic, and mushrooms. All these ingredients are typically cooked with anchovy broth, gochujang (Korean chilli paste) and chilli powder.
The dish is cooked directly in the serving dish, traditionally, a thick porcelain bowl. Once the dish is bubbling, a raw egg is put on top right before serving, which gives a rich flavour and reduces the spiciness of the dish.
This dish is served with a bowl of hot rice and several side dishes. If you dine in any Korean restaurants, they will always ask you which levels of spiciness do you prefer as the dish tend to be quite spicy.
The origin of Sundubu Jjigae is not well documented. However, there are some records from Joseon dynasty (1392-1897) that shows that this dish existed back then, verifying that the unpressed tofu was widely used during that dynasty.
It is not until in the 1990s that this dish has been popularised in Los Angeles. A Korean immigrant in Los Angeles created the version of Sundubu Jjigae that spread across the globe. Since then, many variations of the dish were created with the basis of soft tofu and spicy broth.
Sundubu Jjigae is a low-carbohydrate and high protein food., while its main ingredient is tofu that is made from soy milk.
The dish is appropriate for weight loss due to its low-calorie content, and the tofu and soup are enough to fill one’s stomach without making one overeat.
Tofu is an important source of protein, especially for vegetarians. The plant protein can improve kidney functions compared to meat proteins, which is good for people who require dialysis or kidney transplantation. Also, studies have shown that daily consumption of tofu is able to decrease the risk of heart disease and helps improve blood flow which reduces the risk of stroke.
Besides that, tofu contains antioxidants that can prevent the growth of cancer cells. Some studies show that soy products can reduce the risk of cancer for breast and digestive system. Tofu is also high in calcium that can help in osteoporosis.
Sundubu Jjigae also contains some vegetables that contribute various vitamins to your daily diet. Therefore, it is not only delicious but also beneficial for your health.
Where to find in Malaysia
The dish is widely available at all Korean restaurants in Malaysia. It is one of the popular Korea stew dishes alongside Kimchi Jjigae and Budae Jjigae.
You can order Sundubu Jjigae with clam from BOMNAL Korean Cafe & Restaurant (Johor Bahru). If you prefer to choose the meat or seafood yourselves, get the dish from Stone Bowl (Kuala Lumpur).
Or if you want to prepare your own version, try using our recipe here and enjoy a bowl of a healthy homemade dish in no time!
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