Kimchi Soondooboo Chigae

What Happens When You Run Out of Firm Tofu?

So, I came up with this Kimchi Soondoboo Chigae recipe a couple weeks ago because my kimchi was lookin’ beautifully sour and I could not find any firm tofu in my house.

All I had was 4 boxes of silken tofu.

But, I decided to just go with it, and ended up with a mashup that made my Korean vegan tastebuds really really happy. I’m pretty sure you’ll be happy with it too.

I Went to College and Totally Missed My Parents Way More Than I Thought. Did You?

One of the reasons I love soondooboo chigae so much is because it sort of confirms to me two important things: I’m Korean AND I lost none of my heritage when I went vegan. So, why does it remind me of my Korean-ness so much? When I left for college, it was the first time in my life that I was separated from my family for any length of time. This was very hard for me. I hadn’t realized, until then, just how close I was to my mom and dad. In all the hoopla and excitement of moving away to live with my BFF from high school (who was going to be my roommate), I didn’t once think about whether it would be hard for me to live without my mom’s silvery voice and cool hands, or my father’s gruff silence and breaking smiles. Suffice it to say, within about 1.5 weeks, I was pining for the smells of my family’s kitchen, the soulfulness of gochugaru as compared to the sterility of dorm food.

Thank God for that One Korean Restaurant on Campus that Made Me Love Korean Food.

There was one restaurant on campus that reminded me of home—Dorcas. Dorcas served homemade Korean cuisine right out of a kitchen about the size of my dormroom. While it always took forever to get your food, the small individual sized stone pots brimmed with fiery red chigaes to staunch almost—almost—all the loneliness that separation entails. My first visit to Dorcas, I ordered soondooboo chigae because it was the only thing on the menu that I recognized as something I knew I liked to eat. Yes, after 18 years of eating Korean food, I had taken my grandmother’s and mother’s so for granted, I never bothered to learn what any of their dishes were called.

Soon, I became a regular at Dorcas. I saved all my change over the week in a small plastic cup that sat wedged into the corner of my desk and on Fridays or Saturdays, I would head over there with my friends, church group, or my boyfriend and order Soondooboo Chigae. When I eventually graduated, my girlfriends bought me a traditional Korean stone pot so that I could never be without Soondooboo Chigae, even if I had to say goodbye to Dorcas.

soondooboo in bowl

Veganizing Soondooboo Chigae Proved that I Didn’t Have to Stop Being Korean When I Went Vegan.

So, sure enough, the first dish I ever asked my mom to teach me was Soondooboo Chigae. And consequently, the first Korean dish I ever veganized was Soondooboo Chigae. I’ve made this recipe so many times, showed my Instagram followers how to make it, and even posted a recipe here on my blog years ago. The truth is, the more times I make this dish, the more in love I fall with it.

My Tricks For the Perfect Kimchi Soondooboo Chigae

Now, adding kimchi to it was not a big thing. Many Korean tofu house will have Kimchi Soondooboo Chigae. But, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve to make this stew absolutely outstanding:

  • Roast the gochugaru carefully for depth and smokiness
  • Deglaze the pan with soup soy sauce for extra flavor
  • Add gochujang to the kimchi for a little more heat and a hint of sweetness
  • Don’t skimp on the tofu brine as it adds dimension to your broth
  • Add potatoes to naturally thicken your stew
  • Don’t overcook your stew to maintain crunch kimchi

So, the next time you’re in the mood to try some authentic Korean food that also happens to be vegan, try out this Kimchi Soondooboo Chigae. You will LOVE IT!!

Video: Watch Me Make Sonndooboo Chigae

Other recipes to try:

Recipe Card

Kimchi Soondooboo Chigae

Joanne Molinaro
Next time you’rein the mood to try some authentic Korean food that also happens to be vegan, try out this Kimchi Soondooboo Chigae. You will LOVE IT!!
5 from 2 votes
Servings 4


  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons gochugaru (Korean pepper powder)
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 Korean zucchini or regular zucchini, diced
  • 1 small potato small died
  • 1 cup Napa cabbage kimchi vegan
  • salt
  • 1 Tablespoon gochujang
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce or light soy sauce
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 box silken tofu
  • 2-4 scallions chopped


  • Over medium high heat, add both 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and ½tbsp of sesame oil to a medium sized pot (enough to serve 2 people).When oils are hot, add 1 ½ tbsp of gochugaru and stir with a wooden spoon until the flakes start to foam. DO NOT ALLOW FLAKES TO GET DARK AND BURN.
  • Add diced onions, minced garlic, diced zucchini, and diced potatoes. Stir until they are all evenly coated with chili oil. Next, add 1 cup of kimchi, including any kimchi juice.
  • Add gochujang and deglaze the pan with soup soy sauce. Again, stir until all the vegetables are evenly coated.
  • Next, add vegetable stock. Gently spoon in the silken (“soon”) tofu, including any brine. Break up the tofu using your spoon.
  • Bring the stew to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender.
  • Right before serving, add chopped scallions as garnish. Serve with rice.
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

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June 29, 2020

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