Sunday, March 6, 2011

I love yooo, Soondobuuuu.

I'm going to tell you guys a secret.

I drink pickle juice.

I know, I know. Not healthy. And only occasionally. And I'm even snobby about it - my fav is the water that surrounds properly fermented sour dill pickles. Nerdy, yup.

So when a pal o' mine described to me one of her "I miss Cali" dishes, and how it was kinda pickle soup, I knew I had to either find it somewhere in town or make it myself. And since we're only just starting to see Korean joints pop up in CLT, the latter had to do. She linked me this place - and I went to town.

OMG, baby kimchoy!! Or Bokchi? Hmm. Anyways - a week of fermenting baby bok choy in a shrimp-free Chi recipe produced stinky, wilty, and dare I say, cute results. Little pockets of pickly, spicy awesomeness. They're kind of a mouthful - if you prefer your kimchi more dispersed throughout the brew, chop them a bit before adding.

Traditionally, this stew is made over an open flame in a clay pot, with everything going in fresh and cooking in stages, ending up as one big bowl of tofu, veggies, kimchi, pepper powder or paste, broth, and a big ol' egg cracked in at the very end. Insane. Spicy. Textural. Awesome. I was a tad dubious about my Japanese porcelain holding up to the heat, so I cheated and made the stew in a pot and ladled it into by bowl of choice. I love this dish, and will have to hunt down a proper Ttukbaegi. I'll bet Super G has one hidden somewhere in that vast, stinky space.

Soondubu jjigae with Kimchi
(aka KimChoy stew with Tofu, Veggies, and eggs)
serves 2.

For the broth:
3 cups - use either homemade veggie stock or, like me, faux-beef boullion + water (mushroom would be awesome too)
1 piece kombu
2 bird's eye chilis, split down the middle
Dash sesame oil
3 shitakes, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped

For the rest:
1 cup kimchi
1 tube soondubu
Green onions, chopped
Cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 large egg
3 tablespoons (or more to taste - you know me and tongue-searing, I used more like 5) Korean red pepper paste (like this)

Easy peasy. Heat your oil over medium heat either in your Ttukbaegi or small soup pot and saute onion and mushrooms for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 10 minutes, until flavors have melded. Remove kombu.

Now, add your pepper paste, herbs, and kimchi, and stir well. Carefully break your tofu into the pot, piecing it up a tad bit, but leaving some large chunks. While soup is still simmering, crack the egg in. Now, you can either stir it in and enrich your stew or let it poach a bit. I chose the former.

One of the rad things about the afore-mention Super G mart we've just recently been blessed with is that they have TONS of banchan. I love lotus root, so I picked up some sesame-soy marinated root to float in my bowl amidst all the salty, spicy awesome.

Serve with banchan and rice. Soooo goooood.


  1. Oh my gosh, I thought I was the only person who drank pickle juice. I know it's not good for me but a nice swig right from the Claussen Kosher sandwich slices with lots of garlic.... ummm!

  2. This kimchoy soup looks awesome! What is Soondubu?

  3. @Glo - nice. We should totally start a club and make "I drink pickle juice and am NOT ASHAMED" shirts. Green, of course.

    @wok - Soondubu, sundubu, soon tofu, all of them describe a Korean stew (Jjigae) that contains silken bean curd! Thanks for the compliment :)

  4. wow this looks incredible. I've never seen bok choy like that. Very cool. Off to go look up what the heck soondubu is. Thanks for the post.

  5. Drinking pickle juice isn't healthy? Oh, well, at least kimchi is. There's a place here that serves a kimchi omelet. I haven't tried it yet though.

  6. You know, I need to make a kimchi bloody mary this weekend. Update to follow.

  7. I like the sound of a bokchoy kimchi and that soup looks good!

  8. luv ur pics. dy photog for cookbooks?

  9. Found this site for you pickle juice junkies.....

  10. Pickle Juice Junkies gone WILD!

  11. Uggh, just looking at that website makes my mouth water. Awesome jp!

  12. Thanks Kev! They're almost too cute to eat. Almost.

  13. Julia. I regret never following up on your kimchi offer. I don't know what my life was thinking. and now I'm stalking your blog. THIS LOOKS AMAZING. Miss you!

    1. Annums!! I miss you too. Man, I still make a batch a week - perhaps I'll put some aside for ya and we'll use it as an excuse to grab a drinky! YA!

    2. Yes! I'm friending you. Right now.

  14. I just want to say thanks for your wonderful post, it is contain a lot of knowledge and information that i needed right now. Thanks!
    Y8 - - Y8 Games - Y8 Gold Games
    FRIV | Friv 2 | Friv 3 Games

  15. I know there will be many difficulties and challenges but I am determined to do it. If it does not succeed then it will be a lesson for me as well