Korean Jiggae: Silky Soft Tofu and Vegetable Stew

February 26, 2016

Who said tofu is boring? This spicy Korean stew is anything but! It's bursting with delicious umami (earthy) flavors and complex spices that will keep you scooping for more. Tofu jiggae, or tofu stew, is commonly found on Korean menus but it's easy to make at home. The velvety smooth and custard-like silky tofu takes on the dish's abundant flavors, creating a stew that is complex and oh so comforting. This tasty recipe comes from Chef Judy Joo, host of Cooking Channel's Korean Food Made Simple.

Be sure to check out Chef Joo's Roasted Pork Belly Bossam with Pickled Radish recipe here.

Soft Tofu and Vegetable Stew
Yield:  4 servings

“I love soft silken tofu, and this spicy soup is surprisingly addictive. The mushroom stock here gives this stew or “jiggae” a deep earthy taste and complexity to the dish. The sweet zucchini and the creamy egg cut the spiciness as well. This is one of my favorite jiggaes and it is so good for you.  Perfect for a cold winter’s evening. If you aren’t a vegetarian, try using clams and clam juice in the broth as they add a great flavor and start the stew off with a little bit of bacon as well. In Korean markets you can try to find my favorite silken tofu which comes in a tube.”  ~Judy Joo


4 dried shitake mushrooms
3 cups (700 milliliters) water
1 (roughly 5 x 2 inches/13 x 5 centimeters) piece kombu (dried kelp seaweed)
1 spring onion or scallion, roughly chopped
½ onion, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Korean chili flakes (gochugaru), or to taste
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 small zucchini, cut into quarter moons, about 1-centimeter/-inch thick
2 cups (50 grams) baby spinach leaves
2 cups (100 grams) mixed mushrooms (button, enoki, oyster, shitake), stems trimmed, sliced lengthwise into 1-centimeter/-inch thick pieces
1 cup (85 grams) 2 centimetre/1-inch thick sliced napa or Korean cabbage leaves
18 ounces (510 grams) soft silken tofu, broken up into large chunks
½ to 1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt

2 large eggs
1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
4-5 chives, cut into thirds crosswise
1 spring onion or scallions, sliced thinly on a bias
1 red chili, sliced thinly on a bias

For the stock:  In a large pot, place the water, mushrooms, seaweed, scallions/spring onions and onions.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, covered, for 45 minutes.  Strain the stock, discarding the solids/boiled items, and set aside. For the stew: In a heavy thick-bottomed medium pot, drizzle in the vegetable oil and warm over low heat. Add the onion and the gochugaru.  Sauté over medium-low heat, until onions are just soft, taking care not to brown them.  Add the ginger and garlic, give it a quick mix, then pour in the reserved stock.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then stir in the courgette/zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, and napa or Korean cabbage.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt then add the tofu carefully as it will break apart easily.  Simmer until the tofu is heated through. Crack a couple of eggs in on top and give it a gentle mix to break it apart and cook.  Garnish the stew with chopped chives, scallions/spring onions, and red chilies.  Serve immediately.

About Judy Joo
Chef, restaurateur and TV personality Judy Joo spent years as a successful analyst at Morgan Stanley before deciding to pursue her true passion and enroll at the French Culinary Institute. Judy honed her skills, earned the title of valedictorian, and went on to work as a Recipe Developer at Saveur Magazine. After an across-the-pond move to London two years working in the Ramsay empire, Judy competed for and won the UK version of ‘Iron Chef,’ becoming one of four chefs to hold this title there.
As host of Cooking Channel’s Korean Food Made Simple (currently running its second season), Judy has become a culinary ambassador for Korean cuisine, bringing the robust flavors of her native country into home kitchens each week.   In 2014, Judy opened her first London restaurant, Jinjuu (Korean for “Pearl”), which offers both traditional and contemporary fare inspired by her Korean-American heritage, and in December 2015, she opened a second Jinjuu outpost in Hong Kong.
Tune-in to Korean Food Made Simple on Saturdays at 9:00am EST on Cooking Channel

Recipe copyright, 2014, Judy Joo, All rights reserved.