Kimchi Soft-tofu stew
Colder nights always remind me of waking up in Korea at my grandma’s house to the warm smell of 순두부찌개 (soft-tofu stew). The one she made was always very different from the ones we ate at diners or at traditional Korean 시당 (restaurants). Grandma Choi’s soft-tofu stew had a specific aroma and an even more elaborate flavor. My mom surely was never fully able to reciprocate that flavor when she would make it for us back home. I couldn’t experience the same excitement sitting on the floor table drooling to indulge on my grandma’s homemade soft-tofu stew. You know sometimes you taste something when you were a child and then re-experience the same food as a grown-up? You just can’t quite seem to recapture those somatic experiences as you did when you were a child.
Regardless, I still remember those flavors and experiences of my grandma’s soft-tofu stew when I was little. I tried reciprocating it through trial and error and finally managed to recreate the flavors that I once used to drool over just by hearing the word ‘soft-tofu’. It’s in the patience, it’s in the love and in the passion to deliver a hearty meal to your family. It felt as though I reconnected with my grandma once I took a sip of my soft-tofu stew. I haven’t seen my grandma in over 10 years and this has really taken me back to all the memories of her tiny house filled with her smile and her delicious smells of food.
So here is my grandma Choi’s recreated flavors of soft-tofu stew. Sometimes it’s the memories attached to food that get you motivated to recreate what made you feel the way you felt. I hope this new experience for you will be the new memory you create to come back to make more of my grandma’s recreated soft-tofu stew. Enjoy!
- 1 cup Choi Kimchi
- 1 package soft-tofu
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp gochugaru (plus 1 tbsp if you like it more spicy)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 – 2 tbsp kimchi juice
- 1 bag enoki mushroom
- handful of dried shitake mushroom (pre-soaked)
- a small bit of chopped spring onion to give some final touch of colors.
- Fry onion and garlic in a Korean stoneware pot (뚝배기)* for a couple minutes.
- Add the kimchi, gochugaru, soy sauce and kimchi juice and fry for another 2 minutes.
- Add in about 1/2 the stock and bring to a boil or until the onions are kimchi are cooked through.
- Once the stew comes to a boil, add the pre-soaked shitake mushrooms and soft-tofu. Gently crush the soft-tofu with the spoon into bite-sized pieces. Let it boil for 2 minutes.
- Add a bit more of the stock if the liquid has reduced. Chuck in your enoki mushrooms and chopped spring onion and bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes or until the mushrooms have cooked.
- Serve with rice and more kimchi for side dish options.
*A Korean stoneware pot is used to make all kinds of stews and soups. The benefit of stoneware pots is that it keeps the content in the pot warm for a very long time. If you don’t have a Korean stoneware pot, you can use a regular ramen noodle pot or any normal stainless steel pot.