spicy crab tofu stew (kkot-geh tang)

Let’s be honest here. This isn’t the sort of dish one would make for potluck or for non-adventurous eaters. Although I’ve secretly wanted to serve it to some uptight guests we’ve hosted just to see their reaction. You know the kind of people that only eat chicken breast. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)

Spicy crab tofu stew is exactly the type of food I grew up eating at home. It’s what my mom made after a day of fishing in Long Island, utilizing any seafood deemed too small to cook alone.  Or sometimes she made it with fish heads, whole crabs, or even shellfish. If you like soondubu jigae—soft tofu in spicy broth served in tofu houses—then this briny tofu stew isn’t a stretch.

My hubby prefers spicy tofu stew with pork and beef as a base. But I love using shelled seafood or fish with bones for this molten dish. And please! leave out the egg. It only masks the flavorful soup.


It won’t win any beauty queen awards, and there’s no graceful way of eating shelled seafood. But looks aside, there is no better way to taste shellfish than slurping up its juices as it mixes with hot chili paste and garlic.

Korean spicy crab tofu stew (kkot-geh tang)

Korean spicy crab tofu stew (kkot-geh tang)


  • 1 precooked or raw crab head(can be substituted with chopped whole crab or deveined large prawns in shell)
  • 1 c sliced daikon or Korean radish
  • 1 container of tofu(about 10 ounces of soft or firm) cut into small blocks or leave whole if using soft tofu
  • 2 scallions cut into 1 inch strips
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 c calamari rings(optional)
  • 3 cups of water (Additional water may be needed depending on seafood amount.)
  • spicy paste: 3 large cloves of garlic, 1 1/2 tbs kochukaru flakes, 2 tsp soy sauce, pinch of sugar, 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • salt to taste


  1. Blend spicy paste ingredients in a mini mixer, mortar and pestle or by hand. (If combining by hand, chop the garlic finely before mixing together.)
  2. Use a clay pot, a medium-sized saucepan, or a small dutch oven for this stew. Find a pot where all the ingredients will fit without excess space. Cook the stew without a lid. Plan on serving the stew in the pot.
  3. Heat the pot on medium flame. Pour 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil in the pot, and gently sauté the paste for a minute. Add 3 cups of water to the pot and break up the paste.
  4. Add sliced daikon and cook for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add crab or prawns to the pot. Cook on medium for another 5 minutes. (If using whole raw crab, cook for another 5 minutes.)
  6. Lower heat to a simmer, and add tofu and calamari rings.
  7. Cook for 3-5 minutes, and add strips of scallions to the top. Cook for another minute or two until scallions are slightly wilted but are still bright green.
  8. Add salt to taste. (Gently stir in salt without disturbing the stew ingredients.)
  9. Serve hot with rice.

Skim off any foam that develops on top of the stew during the cooking process.

(Many of the ingredients can be substituted in this recipe. In place of the crab or prawns, clams or fish head can be used. Also, watercress can be added to the stew. Do not add potatoes or any other starchy vegetable, as it will affect the viscosity of the stew.)

Enjoy with a bowl of rice!

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