Alternative namesSoft tofu stew[1]
Place of originKorea
Associated cuisineKorean cuisine
Main ingredientsSundubu (extra soft tofu)
Korean name
Revised Romanizationsundubu-jjigae

Sundubu-jjigae[1] (Korean순두부찌개) is a jjigae in Korean cuisine. The dish is made with freshly curdled extra soft tofu (sundubu) which has not been strained and pressed, vegetables, sometimes mushrooms, onion, optional seafood (commonly oysters, mussels, clams and shrimp), optional meat (commonly beef or pork), and gochujang or gochugaru. The dish is assembled and cooked directly in the serving vessel, which is traditionally made of thick, robust porcelain, but can also be ground out of solid stone. A raw egg can be put in the jjigae just before serving, and the dish is delivered while bubbling vigorously. It is typically eaten with a bowl of cooked white rice and several banchan.[2]

Extra soft tofu, called sundubu (순두부; "mild tofu") in Korean, is softer than other types of tofu and is usually sold in tubes. The first iteration of sundubu was discovered by a Joseon civil official who used spring water and sea water during its cooking process. The stew has multiple variations from various counties in South Korea.

The dish has reached popularity overseas, making appearances in U.S media articles. Restaurants that specialize in sundubu-jjigae can be found in many cities, usually Korea-towns, in the United States.


The name of the dish is a combination of sundubu and jjigae.[3] The term sundubu (순두부, 순豆腐) means extra soft tofu, with dubu (두부) meaning tofu. The word -jjigae (찌개) describes a thicker stew with more ingredients than -guk (국 / soup).[4] Sun- (순-) does not have an associated Chinese character.[5]  


Sundubu-jiggae can be prepared in both meat and vegan options.[6][7] To prepare the dish, the soup base can be either any forms of broth or plain water. The most common broth includes anchovy, beef, and chicken.[8] Common ingredients contain soy sauce, kimchi, minced garlic, gochugaru, toasted sesame oil, vegetable oil, onions, salt. Based on the type of broth and ingredients, additional items can be added. Some recipes include vegetables such as radish, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, kelp, and scallions. Pork, beef, and shrimp can also be incorporated.[9][10]


A raw egg is added directly into the bowl.

Just like any jiggae,[11] the dish is prepared in a heatable pot. During the cooking process, spicy paste is incorporated into the mixture, usually made from hot pepper flakes and sesame oil. In the heated pot, vegetable oil, onion, garlic, and pork are sautéd for a few minutes.[6][12] Kimchi can be added, and a portion of the broth or stock is poured in, before covering and allowing it to cook. Later, salt, sugar, and the soft tofu are mixed in. A raw egg is dropped in the center before serving. A garnish of green onions complements this dish, which is traditionally eaten with rice and various side dishes.[6]


The origins of using unpressed tofu in Korean cuisine is not well documented, but records from the Joseon dynasty archives show an early form of sundubu jjigae being served. Some historians assume that unpressed tofu use spread to the masses during the Joseon dynasty.[13]

The key ingredient sundubu originated in the village of Chodang when Chodang Heoyeop, a Joseon-era civil official, made tofu from the spring water and used sea water instead of brine. The spring water was discovered in the front yard of his office.[14]


Sundubu-jjigae is considered a regional food in Wanju County and Hamyang County.[15][16] Hamyang County's regional sundubu-jjigae is prepared with galbi and clams.[16]


Following the Korean War, some American military servicemen who returned from South Korea brought home jjigae (especially dubu jjigae) recipes. In 1986, Monica Lee opened Beverly Soon Tofu in the Koreatown neighbourhood of Los Angeles, and it was the first restaurant in the United States to specialize in sundubu jjigae.[17][18] By the 1990s, sundubu jjigae restaurants were more popular throughout the United States.[19][20][21]

The dish became even more widely known when Hee Sook Lee, a first-generation Korean immigrant, opened her sundubu restaurant, BCD Tofu, in Vermont Avenue, Koreatown, and expanded it into a national chain. The chain was named after the “Bukchang Dong” district in Korea where Lee's mother-in-law owned a restaurant.[22] In Canada, several BCD and other similar restaurants have been open in Toronto since 2001,[23] and can also be found in other cities across the country.

The North American version of the dish was eventually introduced back to South Korea due to its popularity.[19] A New York Times article reviewing Korean restaurants Bukchang Dong, Cho Dang Ol, and Li Hua, and Seoul Garden in New York described sundubu-jjigae as "a hearty brew of spicy broth and silken tofu that is served in cast-iron bowls. Topped with scallions and nuggets of tender oxtail or crisp kimchi, it's the ideal winter meal".[24] The dish also made an appearance in the Los Angeles Times, describing the jjigae as "comforting, always satisfying".[25]

See also


  1. ^ a b (in Korean) "주요 한식명(200개) 로마자 표기 및 번역(영, 중, 일) 표준안" [Standardized Romanizations and Translations (English, Chinese, and Japanese) of (200) Major Korean Dishes] (PDF). National Institute of Korean Language. 2014-07-30. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  2. ^ 순두부찌개 (in Korean). EncyKorea. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
  3. ^ "국립국어원 표준국어대사전". Retrieved 2023-10-02.
  4. ^ "Korean Soups: What's The Difference Between Guk, Tang, Jjigae and Jeongol?". MICHELIN Guide. Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  5. ^ "국립국어원 표준국어대사전". Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  6. ^ a b c Maangchi. "Kimchi sundubu-jjigae (김치순두부찌개) Spicy soft tofu stew with kimchi and pork belly recipe by Maangchi". Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  7. ^ Jeeca (2020-07-26). "Sundubu Jjigae or Korean Soft Tofu Stew, 순두부 찌개 (Vegan Recipe)". The Foodie Takes Flight. Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  8. ^ "New Year's Eve Appetizers: Best Recipes for All Tastes and Diets". Greatist. 2022-11-29. Retrieved 2023-10-02.
  9. ^ "Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae Recipe". NYT Cooking. Retrieved 2023-10-02.
  10. ^ Washington, Bryan (2019-02-20). "An Adopted Obsession with Soondubu Jjigae, Korean Silken-Tofu Stew". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2023-10-02.
  11. ^ "Korean Soups: What's The Difference Between Guk, Tang, Jjigae and Jeongol?". MICHELIN Guide. Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  12. ^ Hyosun (2015-01-19). "Sundubu jjigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)". Korean Bapsang. Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  13. ^ 순두부찌개 (in Korean). Korea Food Research Institute. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
  14. ^ "Sundubu jjigae". (in Korean). Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  15. ^ "향토 음식". (in Korean). Retrieved 2023-10-06.
  16. ^ a b "향토음식". (in Korean). Retrieved 2023-10-06.
  17. ^ "6 Chefs On The Closing Of Iconic LA Restaurant Beverly Soon Tofu". Zagat Stories. Retrieved 2022-02-24.
  18. ^ Burum, Linda (1987-11-29). "Seoul Food for the Adventurous". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2022-02-24.
  19. ^ a b Kim, Victoria (January 24, 2008). "Korean immigrant reigns over an empire of tofu stew". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
  20. ^ A conversation with Roy Choi (YouTube). University of Southern California Korean Studies Institute. April 26, 2012. Event occurs at 7 minutes 20 seconds. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12.
  21. ^ Asian American society : an encyclopedia. Danico, Mary Yu,, Ocampo, Anthony Christian, 1981-, Association for Asian American Studies. Los Angeles, California. 19 August 2014. ISBN 978-1-4522-8189-6. OCLC 892240557.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
  22. ^ "BCD Tofu House website, "about" page".
  23. ^ "BCD Restaurant, Toronto, Canada".
  24. ^ Moskin, Julia (2005-01-05). "Artisanal, Creamy . . . Tofu?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-10-03.
  25. ^ Goei, Edwin (2022-02-25). "Get jjigae with it: Where to get 4 great Korean soups and stews in Orange County". Daily Pilot. Retrieved 2023-10-06.