To say that I had any hand in creating or even preparing this recipe would be a complete lie–all credit goes to my dear friends Donna and David, who wanted to prepare one of their favorite dishes for me. Some of the ingredients might be unfamiliar to anyone not used to preparing Asian (specifically, Korean) cuisine, but don’t worry: a quick trip to a Korean or general Asian market should do the trick. And who knows, you might discover other fun new foods!
It looked so good, even David had to get a shot:
This dish is typically prepared with a flavoring that is not vegetarian, and also can have egg in it, but Donna and David crafted a vegan version just for me, and now I am happy to share it with you!! Other vegetables can of course be used in this recipe, as with most soups, but here is what we used:
(makes: one serving)
- 1 cup vegetable broth (or a little more if needed)
- 2 dried shitake mushrooms
- 1/2 cup diced zucchini
- One small square (approx. 2in x 2in) dried kelp, cut into small strips (it will expand in the water)
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
- 1/2 tsp Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste, pictured below)
- 1/2 tsp Doenjang (soybean paste, pictured below)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 4 oz (1/3 12oz block) extra soft tofu
- 2-3 Bok choy leaves
- Salt, to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion, for garnish
1) In a small pot, simmer the broth for 1-2 minutes until it heats up. Add the kelp and mushrooms to rehydrate them, and simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.
2) Add any non-leafy vegetables (onion and zucchini in this case), simmer another 3-5 minutes.
3) Add the gochujang (hot pepper paste) and doenjang (soybean paste) and stir, then continue to simmer until the vegetables are soft, adding more broth if needed.
4) Add the bok choy (or other leafy greens) and sesame oil, and cook until the leaves are soft and wilted. Also add salt to taste, if necessary. The sesame oil is added towards the end because it gives the soup a nice flavor, while the bok choy just cooks super fast.
5) Drain and rinse your tofu, then add it in small scoops into the broth, breaking up larger pieces with a spoon. Simmer an additional 5 minutes.
6) If you have a dolsot (stone pot in which this dish is traditionally served, pictured below), heat it on a separate burner on medium heat while the tofu is simmering.
7) Ladle the soup into the dolsot (or regular bowl if you don’t have one), garnish with green onion, and serve with rice! Be careful handling the dolsot though, as it will be hot! It should come with a little tray you can use for serving.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can also eat this dish with seaweed squares by using chop sticks to sort of sandwich some of the soup and rice and then putting the whole thing in your mouth, as pictured here: