Have you ever tried to run away from your home when you were a kid?
I think I did once, but only lasted less than 1 hour. I was 7 or 8 years old, I think. I was mad at my mom and my sisters for some reason. I only went about 3 blocks, got scared, and went back home. I don’t think my mom ever noticed that I was gone.
It was about 8 hours drive form Northern Virginia where I live. Why did I go there?
Well, I was in the mood of New England clam chowder and missing the beautiful fall foliage there, plus I always have been a fan of Mr. Rockwell’s works. I saw his famous “The runaway” and it reminded me of my somewhat-forgotten childhood.There is no artist that captured everyday life of American people more charming and nostalgic than Norman Rockwell did. Even though I did not grow up in this country, I could still relate my Korean childhood and rediscover my innocence through his works. They are honest, sincere, and yet brings out smile from your heart.
We used to live in Cambridge while my piano man was attending law school. It has been 10 years since we left. Some stayed the same but some has changed. I remember how much I enjoyed the fall season in this region of U.S. We often went to the farm in Vermont to get maple syrup and cheese, go up to Maine to eat lobsters and see the northern ocean.
The lake at Concord, MA
I did have my clam chowder, twice, in our 4 days of trip! One in the roadside caboose cafe of small town in Connecticut, and the other one in the famous Colonial Inn at Concord, MA. They both were good.
So, what does this Korean soft tofu clam stew called Soondubu Jjigae(순두부찌개) has to do with Norman Rockwell or New England?
Nothing! Absolutely nothing!
I don’t know Mr. Rockwell ever had tofu in his life but he should have eaten clams, though.
I just wanted to comfort myself in this chilly weather with this hot stew and try to find my Korean innocence along the way.
Warning! This is spicy stew, in case you want to knock yourself out…
I hope not…
That will get rid of all their ocean gunk in them.
You will need about 1 1/2 cup.
Chop, dice, slice, tear or whatever…
In a heavy bottom pot, heat the chili oil over medium heat.
He/she might curse you when he/she sits on the toilet.
Add the stock to the pot.
Let them boil, about 1 minutes.
Don’t panic if the water squirt out.
If you are using fresh clams, add with tofu and boil for 2 minutes.
Add mushroom, and chilies.
I add my clams last since they are already cooked.
You can use fish sauce instead as a substitute.
with a tissue in one hand in case I need to wipe my nose.
but our spirit will remain the same.
You will find gratitude and joy of life itself.
for the memories of my childhood in a country far far away…
- Heat chili oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Saute beef, onion, garlic with chili flakes until beef is browned and the onion becomes translucent. Add Anchovy stock to the pot. Let it boil for 1-2 minutes.
- Cut the tofu package and squeeze out the tofu into the pot. Make sure you keep the tofu in big chunks. Add clams and let the stew boil for 1 minute. You will see the clams starting to open. Add the mushrooms, chilies, and leeks. Season with Korean soy sauce or fish sauce.
- Crack one egg and add it to the pot. Cover the lid and turn off the stove heat. The heat inside of the pot will cook the egg. if you want to cook the egg completely, just keep the heat on for 1 more minute.
- Taste it first and adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper. You can drop a tiny bit of sesame oil if you like.
- Serve with hot bowl of rice and make sure you have a napkin with you. :)
- For the anchovy stock, combine all in a pot, cover, and let it boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 20 minutes covered. Remove the anchovies and the sea kelp.