Mild Tofu Stew

6
Christopher Simpson for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

This Korean stew features velvety silken tofu in a clear, savory broth that allows the nutty flavor of the tofu to shine. Dried kelp, radishes, and shiitake mushrooms build the base of the soothing soup: Radishes impart sweetness, while the kelp and mushrooms add earthy notes. Sesame seeds give each spoonful an extra toasty flavor and crunch. Traditionally, the stew is finished with eggs that have been gently poached, with runny yolks that enrich the broth. If desired, crack four eggs into the stew once the tofu is warmed through and let them simmer gently for three minutes.

White Soondubu Jjigae (Mild Tofu Stew)

YIELD: 4 servings
TIME: 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (6-inch) square dried kelp (also labeled as dashima or kombu)
  • 8 ounces Korean radish or daikon, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick, then cut into 1-inch pieces (2 cups)
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as safflower or canola
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  •  Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 large zucchini (8 ounces), halved lengthwise and sliced into ¼-inch-thick half-moons (2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 ½ pounds silken tofu, broken into large pieces with a spoon
  • ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  •  Steamed rice, for serving

PREPARATION:

  1. In a large Dutch oven, combine kelp, radish, dried shiitakes and 5 cups of water, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer kelp and mushrooms to a cutting board, and transfer broth with radish pieces to a bowl and reserve. Chop kelp into 1-inch pieces, very thinly slice the mushrooms and add both to reserved broth.
  2. In the empty Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high. Add all but ¼ cup of the scallions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2 minutes. Add garlic, sesame seeds and ginger, and stir until well combined and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then add the reserved broth and vegetables, the zucchini and soy sauce, and bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini and radish are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in tofu and sesame oil, and cook until tofu is warmed through, 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Divide jjigae in 4 bowls and garnish each with some of the reserved scallions. Serve hot with rice on the side.

By Kay Chun

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