Thursday, January 10, 2008

Soup to Warm You to the Bone: Soon Dubu

A few weeks ago, my neighbor, Mr. Z, made the most delicious Korean soup, which he called soon dubu. It had tofu, shrimp and egg, and the main flavoring ingredient was Korean hot pepper paste (aka gochu jang). In addition to being one of the tastiest soups that has ever passed my lips, it is easy to make. Mr. Z shared the recipe with me and I’m passing it on to you.

Notes before you start:
1) If you didn’t notice, this soup is going to be spicy. To cut down on the spiciness, omit the crushed red pepper and add only 1 tbs gochu jang.
2) Instead of chicken broth, Mr. Z suggests anchovy broth. I suspect it’s a homemade thing, as I’ve never seen this for sale. Instead I used chicken broth and boiled the shells of the shrimp in the broth for about 15 minutes. In addition, I added 1 tbs of dried shrimp to the soup. This is completely optional.
3) I used 3 eggs, but separated two of them so I could poach two yolks whole because I love soft poached eggs.

This stuff is spicy and salty and gives food a wonderful flavor. Try it in this beef stew or as a marinade for grilled beef.

Soon Dubu
  • 2 tsp dark sesame oil
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped zucchini
  • 1 bunch green onions, cut into 1 inch pieces, whites and greens separated
  • 6 shitake mushrooms, sliced (or two large handfuls of dried shitakes)
  • ½ onion (preferably sweet, like Vidalia), sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 to 2 tbs gochu jang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 5 to 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 package silken tofu
  • 2 to 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • salt, to taste
In a pot over medium heat, add the sesame oil and about another tablespoon of vegetable oil. When hot, add the mushrooms, garlic, red and black peppers, and whites of the green onions. Saute for a minute . Add the onion wedges, zucchini, chicken broth and gochu jang. Allow to come to a slow boil and stir to dissolve the paste. Add the tofu and stir to break it up roughly. Check the seasonings. Add more pepper paste if you’d like it spicer and salt if necessary. Simmer the soup for a few minutes (5 or 10), then add the beaten egg. After a couple of minutes, add the shrimp. Resist the urge to stir! Just allow the shrimp to quietly poach in the soup until they are pink and cooked through. Add the greens of the green onions. Turn off the heat and allow the soup to rest, covered, for about 10 minutes before serving. I like my soup with a little bowl of rice.


Manggy said...

No to cutting back on gochu jang! My pantry is pretty full of heat enhancers, though. What other uses are there for gochu jang? (I suppose for making spicy bulgogi paste) I might also want noodles (or even rice on the side) for some starch :)

dp said...

I actually use gochu jang to make dipping sauces most of the time. Of course the bulgogi is awesome. I don't know of any noodle recipes yet, but I'm always on the lookout.

Stefania/CityMama said...

You are making me SO HUNGRY! This is one of my favorite soups ever, lucky for us we live near a "Tofu House," restaurant. A local chain that serves all different kinds (mushroom, dumpling, sea food) of soon dugu chigae (chee-geh) with a few other items. Soon dubu chigae is usu. make with veryvery soft tofu and when you spoon up the tofu it should be like a silky custard. When you eat it, when it's "blazing hot!" (cuz it's served in those earthenware bowls), you crack an egg into it. Here's a photo of Korean soon dubu, it makes more sense when you see it:

If you want to try it in a Korean restaurant Toji on Hawthorne serves it...just don't go to that crap restaurant on NW 23rd. bleh.

dp said...

Hi Fifi!
Mr. Z made the soup with silken tofu and it really is a nice texture. Unfortunately the supermarket didn't have silken tofu! The firm is not quite the same.

I also like the "poached" egg! I separated and scrambled with whites into the soup and just poached the yolks. So delicious when it breaks open in the soup!

We tried Toji , with your brother, actually. Never been to the one in NW. I like Toji a lot, so I probably won't wander!

tigerfish said...

I love soon dubu. I have not gone to Korea before but the best soon dubu I've had happens to be in California. They are good....really good!