Kimchi jjigae, aka kimchi stew, is a delicious and popular Korean dish. A delicious and spicy meal that can be enjoyed with a plethora of side dishes, or simply with rice. It’s a very straightforward recipe (assuming you have kimchi already), made even easier with a few shortcuts that don’t compromise on flavor.Jump to Recipe
Kimchi jjigae means kimchi stew in korean, so kimchi (specifically napa-cabbage kimchi) is the main event. You can either buy kimchi from the grocery store or make your own. I prefer making my own kimchi, as it’s much cheaper to make in bulk, and tastes a lot better. Regardless, a well-fermented sour kimchi is key to a good kimchi jjigae. If your kimchi doesn’t quite have that acidic punch yet you may need to supplement the stew with a little vinegar.
Rice is Nice
Usually water from rinsing rice is used to make the stew. The starch from the rice adds flavor and slightly thickens the broth in a satisfying way. The downside is that it requires fresh rice to be made in a separate pot, so if you planned to have this stew with leftover cooked rice or no rice at all then there would be no way to acquire rice water. A small trick I found is to make a roux using sesame oil and rice flour. This thickens the stew and provides flavor similar to how rice water would, but reduces the effort required considerably. A great choice if you don’t want to cook fresh rice.
Invest in Good Stocks
You could simmer up a fantastic homemade stock over the span of a couple hours, but personally I think it’s a waste of time. Don’t get me wrong, a good broth base matters. If you just add spice to plain water the flavor will feel one-dimensional. But with the abundance of strong spicy and sour ingredients, it would be very difficult to taste the difference between a kimchi jjigae made with homemade stock base vs instant stock. My two recommendations for the job are either instant dashi powder, or better than bouillon.
Kimchi jjigae usually consists of two main proteins: one meat/seafood and tofu. My recipe uses pork belly, one of my favorite cuts. Fatty cuts of meat harmonize amazingly with the acidity and spice of the stew. For that reason, pork shoulder would also be a great choice. Other popular choices are beef, as well as various seafoods such as squid, clam, oyster, and mussel.
Tofu comes down to a matter of preference. Both firm tofu and silken tofu are widely consumed in kimchi jjigae. Firm tofu will have a meatier texture. It will also keep its shape better if that’s a concern. Soft tofu will have a velvety texture. It breaks apart more easily in the stew, so you won’t be able to achieve geometrically perfect tofu squares if that’s what you’re going for. But It’s almost like eating a cloud. A very spicy cloud.
One Pan Kimchi Jjigae
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp rice flour
2 ½ cups water
150 grams (⅓ lb) pork belly, thinly sliced
½ medium white onion, sliced
2 green onions
1 cup kimchi
- Soup Base
1 tbsp gochujang
1 tbsp boullion
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
⅓ cup kimchi juice
1/2-2 tsp gochugaru, depending on how spicy you like it
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
225g (1/2lb) silken or firm tofu
100g (1/4lb) enoki mushrooms
- In a pan, heat 1 tsp sesame oil on low heat. Add the rice flour and whisk until an aromatic paste forms. Add water and whisk until fully incorporated.
- Set aside a little bit of the green part of the green onion for garnish later. Add pork belly, onion, the rest of the green onion, and kimchi to the pan.
- In a small bowl, stir together gochujang, bouillon, sugar, sesame oil, kimchi juice, gochugaru, and garlic. Add to the pan. Bring the soup to a boil and then let simmer on medium-low heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add tofu, cover, and let simmer on low heat for twenty minutes. Uncover and turn the heat up to medium. Once the soup is at a rigorous simmer add the eggs and enoki mushrooms. Cook for another 3 minutes or until the egg whites are cooked. Garnish with the green onion tops. Enjoy by itself or with side dishes of your choice.