Make quick sundubu jjigae in just 10 minutes with canned tuna! This easy Korean soft tofu soup is packed with tons of flavor from spicy tuna, fresh veggies, and traditional seasonings. It’s a comforting soup that every Korean food lover will appreciate.

Sundubu jjigae made with canned tuna in a pot.

Sundubu jjigae (순두부찌개) also known as Korean soft tofu stew, is one of the most popular Korean stews. It’s a comforting choice on a cold day, loved by both Koreans and fans of Korean cuisine around the world.

For a traditional flavor, try my classic sundubu jjigae recipe featuring clams. In this post, however, I’ll introduce a unique spicy tofu soup made with canned tuna.

A spoonful of spicy Korean tofu soup on a pot of sundubu jjigae.

This recipe pairs soft silken tofu with canned tuna, focusing on their complementary textures and flavors. You can add a hint of kimchi for a bit of spice, and include vegetables like zucchini or mushrooms if desired. This hearty stew is quick to prepare, requiring no time-consuming protein prep and no need for making a separate anchovy broth, so you can enjoy it in just 10 minutes.

Serve this sundubu with steamed rice for a convenient, flavorful meal that rivals what you’d find in a Korean restaurant, but at a much lower cost.

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients presented for making Korean soft tofu soup (sundubu jjigae).

Tuna

I recommend using Korean spicy canned tuna (gochu chamchi, 고추참치), which is seasoned with spices and perfect for Korean tofu stews or soups. You can find it at Korean grocery stores or online.

If Korean canned tuna isn’t available, use any oil-packed solid tuna from your local grocery (avoid chunk tuna). For similar spiciness, add some gochujang and gochugaru (Korean hot pepper paste and flakes). When cooking, drain most of the oil but keep 1-2 tablespoons for added flavor.

Tofu

Have you noticed that although spicy Korean tofu stew is often called ‘soft tofu stew,’ recipes typically call for silken tofu? This might be a longstanding naming convention. For authenticity, use silken tofu.

Many stores, especially Asian markets or Korean grocery stores, carry tofu specifically labeled for sundubu jjigae.

If you can’t find that, look for ‘silken tofu’ packaging. Avoid generic soft tofu due to its different texture. Remember, firm tofu isn’t suitable for this stew but works well in dishes like crispy tofu.

How to make Tuna Sundubu Jjigae

Preparation: In a small pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add leek and onion. Sauté for about 60 seconds until they soften.

Build flavors: Add the Korean canned tuna, garlic, and gochugaru to the pot. Stir-fry for 30 seconds to meld the flavors.

Incorporate Main Ingredients: Place tofu and rice water into the pot. The water should not completely cover the ingredients.

Add sliced zucchini and mushroom: Bring the stew to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Season: Pour Korean soup soy sauce and fish sauce for richer flavor. Add salt if you desire a saltier taste.

Finishing Touches: Crack an raw egg on top and garnish with chopped fresh chili. Switch off the heat, and let the residual warmth cook the egg whites. For a creamy touch when serving, break the yolk and combine.

Note for Plain Solid Tuna: If you’re using oil-packed solid tuna, drain the oil but set aside a tablespoon for cooking. When introducing the tuna, also add 1 teaspoon of gochujang and 1-2 tablespoons of gochugaru. Proceed as per the recipe from there.

Sundubu jjigae made with tuna served over a bowl of rice.

Pro Tips for tasty Tuna Sundubu Jjigae

  1. Use rice water as stock base: For an authentic touch, use rice water as your soup base. This isn’t some specialty ingredient; it’s simply the starchy water left behind after rinsing white rice. It helps thickens the stew slightly and enrich the flavor.
    • Since you’re pairing this stew with rice, remember to set aside a small amount of the rice rinse water. Simple yet transformative!
  2. Spicing up plain canned tuna: If you have to use plain canned tuna (preferably solid tuna in oil), enhance its flavor profile with a touch of gochujang and gochugaru.
    • Tailor the spiciness to your liking; if you crave a bolder heat, feel free to add more of these seasonings.
  3. Adding kimchi (optional): Old sour kimchi can add a big flavor boost to your stew. It makes Korean soft tofu stew richer and tangier.
    • If you add kimchi, pour in a little of kimchi juice too. It’s delicious!

What to eat with Korean Tofu Soup

Always serve homemade sundubu jjigae hot with a bowl of rice and your favorite Korean side dishes, such as kimchi. I like to serve with fish cake side dish known as eomuk bokkeum. They are great together.

This hearty, authentic Korean soft tofu soup pairs excellently with grilled mackerel fish or samgyupsal.

A pot of Korean tofu soup (sundubu jjigae) with rice.

Related Recipes

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Sundubu jjigae (spicy Korean tofu soup) made with canned tuna in a pot.

Tuna Sundubu Jjigae (10-Minute Korean Tofu Soup)

Make quick sundubu jjigae in just 10 minutes with canned tuna! This easy Korean soft tofu soup bursts with flavor from spicy tuna, fresh veggies, and traditional seasonings. It’s a comforting favorite for any Korean food lover.
5 from 2 ratings

Recipe Video

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped Asian leek , or green onion
  • 1 can (250g) Korean hot pepper tuna, or solid tuna in oil (See note below)
  • 1 tbsp Korean chili flakes (gochugaru)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tube (400g, 1 lb) silken tofu
  • 1/2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 handful mushroom, any kind
  • 1 cup (240 ml) rice water, see note below
  • 1 tbsp Korean soup soy sauce (gukganjang)
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 egg, optional
  • 1 fresh chili, sliced, optional

Instructions 

  • Heat oil in a pot on medium-high. Add onion and leek (or green onion) and cook until they're soft, about a minute. Put in the Korean canned tuna, garlic, and gochugaru, and stir for 30 seconds.
  • Add tofu and rice water. Make sure the water doesn't completely cover the ingredients. Add zucchini slices and mushroom and bring the stew to boil. When it's boiling, turn the heat to medium and let it cook for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add in Korean soup soy sauce and fish sauce for flavor and seasoning. If you like, add some salt.
  • Crack an egg on top and sprinkle with fresh chili (if using). Turn off the heat, and the hot stew will cook the egg. When serving, mix the yolk for a creamy taste. Enjoy your stew alongside fresh short-grain rice.

Notes

For Plain Solid Tuna: If you’re using oil-packed solid tuna, drain the oil but set aside a tablespoon for cooking. When introducing the tuna, also add 1 teaspoon of gochujang and 1-2 tablespoons of gochugaru. Proceed as per the recipe from there.
Rice water: Don’t throw away that starchy water from rinsing rice. Remember to set aside a small amount of the rice rinse water.
Calories: 136kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.04g, Cholesterol: 82mg, Sodium: 903mg, Potassium: 299mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 343IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 57mg, Iron: 1mg
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