Korean Kimchi Jjigae… kimchi soup/stew.

Korean Kimchi Jjigae( Stew)… Since I posted a recipe for Korean Kimchi recently, I took the opportunity to make the popular Kimchi Jjigae… a dish I make from time to time with variations. I like to make the stew with ingredients I have in the house, so it changes each time I make it. It’s really not a complicated recipe, as long as you have good kimchi. And what I mean with good kimchi, is that you want your kimchi to  have fermented for a couple of weeks at least…  also known as “old” kimchi. The well fermented kimchi has the sour element which really makes this dish…. it’s the sourness that gives it better flavor. 
I find the stew is quick to make and requires very little ingredients. So it’s perfect for a quick meal when you’re in a hurry. Great for cold days where you want something to warm you up… in under half hour or so. And because it’s a one-pot dish, clean-up is just as easy. While you can serve the stew over rice, I find I like it plain. Many times I prefer to add more water and make the stew more like a soup, adjusting seasoning.  
Kimchi jjigae can also be made with meat for an even heartier dish. Normally pork is used… and it’s cooked before you add the kimchi.  But I find the simple version to be light and tasty, so I’ve not used meat as of yet.  In any case, you can definitely add other ingredients of choice. For this post, I added some bean sprouts… because I had them in the fridge. But you can add some mushrooms or even tuna. Actually, you can even make an army based jjigae with noodles, beans, hot dogs… and well, other ingredients you would normally find at an army base:). Oh, if you would like to see more Korean food, Aeri’s kitchen has some wonderful dishes… with videos.  A special thanks to Sarah from Korea, a reader, who shared Aeri’s site with me. Hope you enjoy…     

Note: I didn’t cover the pot while it was cooking, but you may want to do so…  it helps with keeping the liquid from evaporating. You can adjust seasoning, water and ingredients to taste. Feel free to add some soy sauce, sesame oil or even Korean gochujang(chile paste)…  below is just a basic way to make the stew, but it is best made to taste:). 
3 cups well fermented sour kimchi
2 TBS oil
1/2 onion, sliced
pinch of sugar
1 TBS red pepper powder(gochugaru)
1 garlic clove, grated
3 cups water, or to taste*
1/3 cup kimchi juice
1 cup mung bean sprouts, optional
1/2 pack of tofu, sliced thin
3 green onions
1 red chile sliced, optional
salt as needed
*you can add more water if you want more of a soup-y dish, adjusting seasoning… or use the lesser amount if you like it more of a stew, served over rice.

1.  In a soup pot, heat oil and add kimchi. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
2. Add onion, pinch of sugar, red pepper, garlic, water and kimchi juice. If you don’t have enough kimchi juice, supplement with extra water and a bit more red pepper.
3.  Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes… the stew will be at a rolling boil. You can cover pot if you like, I didn’t.
4. Add bean sprouts(optional) and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. Adjust seasoning with extra salt if needed. Add extra water, if needed.
5. Place tofu slices on top of stew, sprinkle with the green onion and chiles and cook for an additional 5 minutes pressing the tofu down and basting it with some of the liquid so the tofu gets flavored. 
6. Serve as is… or with rice. 
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