The Flu-Chaser: Sundubu Jjigae at Kaju Tofu House in Boston
I'm not sure if cold and flu season has an official start date, but by the look of the out-sick list in my office, it set in about a week ago. We all have our go-to elixirs: the Boiled Fish in Fiery Sauce at Qingdao Garden, the Homestyle Egg Drop Soup at Shangri-La, and for sure the Chicken Matzoh Ball Soup at the New England Soup Factory. This year, I grabbed a travel pack of tissues and shuffled over to Allston's latest Korean hotspot, Kaju Tofu House, for their specialty, the spicy soft tofu soup know as sundudbu jjigae.
The broth arrives bubbling, which somehow adds to the appeal—as if it'll boil the sniffles away. But it's also incredibly savory and satisfying soup, the kind where you keep spooning up the broth and wiggly, silky tofu chunks even when you're full.
There are more than a dozen flavor options; I took the server's advice and went with seafood and beef ($11.99), which turned out to be about as much umami as can fit into one bowl. Adding to the funky anchovy backbone were mussels, manilla clams, head-on shrimp, and scrappy bits of tender beef. Cracking the raw egg into the broth gives it fuller, more satiny body.
Once the broth settled, I hopped from soup to rice—it was so clean, gently sweet, and superbly sticky that I craved spoonfuls of it plain—to banchan, a particularly good, super-fresh mix that included classic cabbage kimchi, sweet pickled daikon threads, spicy-sweet cucumber chunks, sweet-salty-sticky dried anchovies, and fermented black beans. And when I felt maxed out, I packed up the leftovers and looked forward to my spicy breakfast.
About the author: Liz Bomze lives in Brookline, MA, and works as the Senior Features Editor for Cook's Illustrated Magazine. In her free time, she freelances regularly for the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, the Improper Bostonian, and Martha's Vineyard Magazine; practices bread-baking and canning; takes photos; reads; and watches baseball. Top 5 foods: fresh noodles, gravlax, sour cherry pie, burrata, ma po tofu.