When it’s unreasonably cold outside, I like to comfort myself with a cauldron of boiling hot, spicy, kim chee-laden tofu. Soondubu chigae, my friends. If you don’t know what it is, meet your new cold weather bestie. It’s basically a Korean soft tofu stew that can include bits of meat, clams, oysters, mushrooms, onions, scallions, as well as an array of other seafood and vegetables. Of course, there’s a healthy dose of Korean chili powder (gochuchang), too. The end product depends on who made it, what batch it was in, and the like. This is the type of stuff where grandmothers and mothers have tweaked it over the generations, making each family bowl different from their neighbors. The predominant star is — of course — the soft tofu that is brought to an almost custard-like consistency. For me, the raw egg that you can drop into your mini-cauldron runs a close second, giving that DIY feel and control over making your bowl your very own concoction.
This is what soondubu chigae looks like when it lands on your table. Bubbling hot. Seriously, can you see the bubbles at the edge of the upper bowl? The picture is a bit blurry because my lens kept getting steamed up.
Here’s what it looks like when it finally calms down.I really really love this stuff. I crave this periodically, whether it’s hot or cold. And besides that, it brings back some seriously fond memories of my old Yahoo! cronies. We’d lunch at the My Tofu House in Santa Clara frequently and come back wreaking of garlic and kim chee together.