Is Korean Tofu Soup Healthy? (Nutritional Value)

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Koreans love their soups, especially in the summer. They have a philosophy of fighting the hot weather with a boiling bowl of soup. 

But, due to the sweltering temperatures, Koreans must ensure the soup is light yet nutritious enough.

Korean tofu soup is one such dish that many people fall back on during this sticky and humid time of year.

But, is Korean tofu soup healthy? Yes, it’s incredibly healthy! Also called sundubu-jjigae, it’s excellent for a well-balanced diet. It has a wonderfully spicy broth that includes a variety of vegetables, meat, garlic, egg, red pepper flakes and red chile paste. 

It’s high in protein, low in carbs, and right on the money with calories.

About Korean Tofu Soup & Its Ingredients

sundubu-jjigae, also called kimchi jigae, is a stew as indicated by “jigae.” “Sundubu,” which translates to “pure,” is a Korean type of tofu.

It’s very soft and not pressed with a high water content. The texture is extra velvety, silky and smooth. 

The stew is famous for having a calming and warming effect, making it something of a comfort food.

Any type of vegetable that’s good for stews can go into sundubu-jjigae. This can be mushrooms, onions, carrots, celery and/or kimchi. 

The broth comprises anything the chef wants it to. Traditional ones use things like kimchi juice, anchovy broth or just plain water. 

Plus, red pepper flakes, red chile paste, onions and garlic inject spiciness into the broth.

Also, the soup as it is doesn’t have much protein. So, many people will add things like seafood, chicken, beef or pork into the mix. 

But, for those looking to watch their weight and/or take in less protein, these are totally optional. Plus, most servings of sundubu-jjigae will come with a side of plain rice.

Nutritional Value of Korean Tofu Soup

It will be difficult to give exact nutritional values for sundubu-jjigae since these vary everywhere you go. 

Someone who prepares this at home will have a different nutritional value than when ordering it at a restaurant. However, there are some baselines to take into consideration.

A typical bowl of sundubu-jjigae is about 1¾ cups (432 grams or around 15 oz). If it doesn’t have meat, it will have around 190 calories.

 However, if seafood and meat are a part of the dish, you can expect it to go up to 225 calories.

There are about 10 grams of carbohydrates and also of fat along with 17 grams of protein if meat is present. 

Sundubu-jjigae also has a bunch of potassium, magnesium, and other vitamins as given by the veggies. However, the sodium is rather high, over 1,000 grams.

Evaluating sundubu-jjigae’s Healthiness

In regards to calories and carbs, this is quite low and very good for helping someone with weight management. 

You can burn this off by hiking for 30 minutes or lifting weights for an hour. 

But, when we bring in grams of fat, there is some cause for concern. 

The broth on its own provides around 10 grams, with two of those being saturated fat.

However, fat is what helps you feel full for several hours while aiding the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from other ingredients. 

If your goal is 2,000 calories each day, then you can only have about 14 grams of saturated fat.

Make Korean Tofu Soup at Home

Because this is so simple, it’s a good idea to make it yourself at home. This way, you can watch the calories, sodium, and fat if you need to be meticulous about it. 

The following recipe is a classic way to prepare Korean tofu soup, but you can adjust things to suit your preferences.

For instance, if you don’t want to add meat, you can replace it with mushrooms. If you want to reduce the amount of salt, don’t use salted shrimp. 

For those who want to reduce their protein intake, don’t include meat or egg.

Items You’ll Need

  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons
  • Small Pot (stone is best)
  • Spoon

Ingredients

  • 12 oz Sundubu (Extra Soft Tofu)
  • 3 oz Seafood, Chicken, Beef and/or Pork
  • 1 Cup Anchovy Broth (water or any other broth)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Green Onion
  • ⅓ Cup Kimchi (sliced thin)
  • 2 Tbsp Kimchi Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 3 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (add more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp Garlic (minced)
  • ½ tsp Salt (or use traditional salted shrimp, called ‘saewujeot’)
  • ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper

Directions

  1. Chop green onion and mince garlic along with slicing kimchi and meat into thin strips.
  2. Add sesame oil, red pepper flakes and garlic as well as the meat and kimchi to a small pot.
  3. Using medium heat, stir-fry these ingredients for about four minutes, or until almost cooked through.
  4. Pour in broth (or water) and kimchi juice, bringing this to a boil. Once there, allow it to cook for four minutes and scrape the scum off the top after that time.
  5. Add the tofu directly from the tube so that you achieve large chunks. Immediately stir in salt and ground black pepper (or salted shrimp) ¼ teaspoon at a time. Then let the tofu stew simmer for a full five minutes.
  6. Add the green onion and crack an egg over the top serve while still boiling, along with a side of white short grain rice.

Conclusion

Sundubu-jjigae is a very healthy stew that is excellent for a well-balanced diet. 

Because the tofu and vegetables provide much of the nutrients, including any meat or seafood is completely optional. 

This is ideal for those looking to eat better or people trying to lose a few extra pounds.

About The Author

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Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul over 4 years and during that time, he has experienced a lot of the city's quirks and charms. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others who are interested in learning more about South Korea.

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