Most people can say they like their city, but I LOVE my city. I have such an enormous amount of Houston pride for so many different reasons. On the surface many people see Houston as just a boring city with little personality, not much diversity, and a food scene far behind places like Chicago and L.A., but they couldn’t be more wrong. Houston’s food scene is booming with fresh new talent, our Chinatown is one of the best in the country, and we are ranked among the 10 most diverse cities in the nation. When you really actually start to explore your city, it’s amazing what you can find.
This past year, we have been spending a ton of time in Chinatown. On a quest to broaden my horizons, I have been going to as many hole in the wall restaurants as I can find, shopping weekly in our Asian supermarkets, and experimenting with so many new ingredients and foods I have never had before. It’s amazing how little I really knew what Houston had to offer growing up. My parents were always more old school and less adventurous, taking me to steakhouses like the Palm for evenings out. The most ethnic we ever really got was the old Chinese delivery place around the corner.
Recently, on a trip to my favorite Asian supermarket in Houston (Super H Mart), my senses were overtaken with mouthwatering smells of things like Korean fried chicken, kimchi, all kinds of stews coming from the food court. I was by myself and a little bit hungry, so I thought why not try something new. I am usually always in a soup mood, no matter what temperature it is outside, so I thought I would try a tofu, kimchi, & mushroom soup at the BiBiJo Express stand. I cannot even begin to explain the religious experience I had with this stew, but I have been going back about twice a week since to get it. I’m actually a bit mad at myself because I am so obsessed with it that I haven’t been able to pry myself away from this stand to try another, its just too good.
So, on my last trip to Super H Mart, I bought all the ingredients I needed, including the clay pots they serve them in at the store, and tried my best at replicating this killer soup. The result? JUST AS GOOD IF NOT BETTER!! Even if you are not the most adventurous eater, I promise, you will go nuts for this soup. It was packed with the most incredible flavors, and extremely healthy. One of the other fun parts about it, is you can add really any ingredients you want – beef, pork, other veggies, omit the mushrooms or tofu, it really won’t matter, just add away to your hearts desire and keep the base the same.
Some important things to note about making this recipe are the broth and the kimchi you are using. The homemade anchovy broth is VERY easy to make, and I promise, this dish won’t taste fishy. Do not skimp on this broth or the soup will not taste the same. Also, I found using the old fermented kimchi, which is much more sour in flavor, will also change the soup completely. Make sure you follow those instructions!!
I was a bit confused when I went shopping for the right ingredients, so I asked another shopper that was Korean, she was able to point out exactly what I needed, which are photographed below to make it easier for you! As you can see, I added another type of mushroom to mine because I am crazy about mushrooms.
This kimchi is amazinggggg!
Here is the simple anchovy broth. It is so easy to make, and took only 10 minutes.
This is what the clay pot looks like, you can find them at most Asian markets.
- 1 (11 oz) package of extra soft tofu
- 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- ½ cup fully fermented sour kimchi, chopped into small pieces (I use old fermented kimchi)
- 3 tbsp. of the kimchi juice from package
- ¼ of an onion, diced
- 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tbsp. gochugaru
- 1 tsp. garlic, minced
- 1 small zucchini, chopped
- ½ cup shitake mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup anchovy broth (recipe and ingredients below)
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 bundle of enoki mushrooms
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 2 cups water
- 6 medium dried anchovies
- 1 piece of kelp
- 1, 2 inch slice of Korean radish
- ¼ of an onion, peeled and not cut
- Make the anchovy broth by combining all the ingredients for it listed above in a small pot. Boil on medium heat for 10 minutes, then strain the liquid into a bow. After it has been boiled you will have 1 cup of liquid left over to use. Set aside.
- In a clay pot (or medium size pot if you don't have one), add the sesame oil and saute the onion, kimchi, garlic, gochugaru, shitake mushrooms, and zucchini (now is the time to add any other veggies you would like). Stir well, and cook until the kimchi and onion are soft, about 5 minutes. Next, pour in the kimchi juice and the anchovy broth. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add in the fish sauce and stir.
- Open the package of tofu, drain any extra juice off, and place it onto a paper towel. Very gently add the tofu, along with the enoki mushrooms. The tofu will fall apart very easily so be delicate breaking it apart and stirring. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring gently to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Either serve in the clay pot or pour soup into a bowl, and top with the scallion.
Recipe adapted from Chef Julie Yoon.