Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Soon Doo Bu Jigae
What could be in this red boiling cauldron? It's definitely not the Weird Sisters boiling toil and trouble. (It's from MacBeth if you're scratching your heads...) What this is, is one of the greatest things Korea has bestowed upon the world.
Soon Doo Bu Jigae. What is it? Unless you're Korean, I'm pretty sure you have no idea. Also, if you were Korean, I doubt you've read this far into this blog. Soon Doo Bu Jigae is a spicy tofu casserole with seafood.
When you order it, it comes piping hot, boiling and bubbling in a stone casserole bowl. The stone bowl keeps it hot for the duration of your meal. I'm gonna repeat that it's piping hot, so don't touch the bowl except at those side handles! When they set it down, the entire broth will be boiling. It's the perfect environment to cook something actually. If only there was only something to cook in there. Luckily, there is! SoonDooBu is usually accompanied by a raw egg, which most people crack and drop into it. The egg cooks softly in there, leaving the yolk runny, and the added egg brings the temperature of the dish down so that it eventually remains very warm, but no longer boiling.
So what's in this red boiling treasure? Besides the egg, it's main constituent is tofu. But its not a firm tofu, bu a very very soft silken tofu. The consistency of the tofu is very delicate, to the point where it can flop around and break very easily under its own weight. The beauty of that is the tofu can seemingly just melt in your mouth when you eat it. It's an incredibly light almost nonexistent texture because of that. The bowl is also full of other little ocean treasures if you dig around. It is also a seafood dish, so most often accompanying the tofu is squid, shrimp, clams, and mussels still in their shells.
SoonDooBu is served with rice, and it's hard not to eat it with rice, because the broth is rather spicy. You can ask for the spiciness to be toned down, but dont ever ask for it to be unspicy. An unspicy SoonDooBu is incredibly flat and lacks the kick and flavor that real SoonDooBu delivers. Beginners though, should often ask for the spiciness to be toned down, because if you're not used to Korean cuisine, the initial spiciness can be very sudden and strong. Tolerance does need to be built up.
I personally love SoonDooBu, and one particular thing I love is the egg. I love runny eggs. And it's really a treat to have the egg break over the rice at the end and eat that with the rest of the tofu and seafood. SoonDooBu also a great dish especially if you're working out in my opinion because its mostly tofu and seafood, essentially a great tasty stomach filling bowl of protein.
A personal favorite, dont be afraid to order it. You'll be really surprised by how good it can be. Just be prepared to handle the spiciness, or if you need to, remember to ask the restaurant to tone it down as you build up your spice tolerance.
Next time, I'll be talking about another great starting dish for the newly intiated, a rice based dish called BiBimBop.
UP NEXT: Bi Bim Bop