When a chilly wind begins to blow and mufflers don't help to keep warm, many Koreans long for a hot spicy tofu soup. And besides being a perfect winter warmer, sundubu jjigae also clocks in at a mere 204 calories per bowl.
But just because it has few calories does not mean it is bland or insufficiently nutritious. On the contrary, sundubu jjigae is a flavorful dish. It is made with soft tofu, which is rich in protein and vitamins. Soft tofu is made from white soy beans that are steamed, peeled and whisked in a large boiling bowl. This base for soft tofu is then put into a cotton cloth bag to squeeze out the water. Afterwards, brine is added to the soybean milk, forming clusters of soft tofu, which has such high protein levels that Koreans call soybeans "meat harvested from the ground."
To make the dish, red pepper powder, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and spring onion are added, finished off with the addition of a raw egg to the piping hot traditional earthen pot. According to taste, other ingredients like seafood, beef, clams, seaweed, sprouts, onions, or mushrooms can be added. Some people add Kimchi, as well as dumplings of various sorts. There is even sundubu jjigae with ham and cheese in specialty restaurants BCD Tofu House, a successful chain not only in Korea but also in the U.S., Thailand, Taiwan, and Japan.
Low in calories, full of nutrients, and varied to match each and every person's taste, no wonder sundubu jjigae has been called by the New York Times "the ideal winter meal."