Kimchi Stew (Kimchi Jjigae) Recipe:

Kimchi stew is one of the most-loved of all the stews in Korean cuisine. It’s a warm, hearty, spicy, savory, delicious dish that pretty much everyone loves. As long as they can handle spicy food, I never met a person who didn’t like kimchi-jjigae.

this recipe from a restaurant famous for kimchi-jjigae in Korea. The restaurant was always full of people eating and sweating over kimchi stew.  There was only one item on the menu, so everyone was there for the same thing: a steaming pot of spicy kimchi-jjigae, a few side dishes, and a bowl of warm rice. Customers would call out: “Please give me another bowl of rice!”

What really made an impression on me at the time was the fact that they brought the stew out to the table uncooked, and then fired up a burner and cooked it at the table. This way we could sit and talk and watch it cook. I could get a good look at the ingredients: kimchi, onion, green onion, thinly sliced pork on top, and seasonings. There was some white granules (salt, sugar, and probably MSG) and also they used water at the broth base.

From this I developed my own recipe to make at home, which was very delicious.

Kimchi stew is thicker than kimchi soup. Kimchi soup is less salty than kimchi stew.

Kimchi stew is one of the most-loved of all the stews in Korean cuisine. It’s a warm, hearty, spicy, savory, delicious dish that pretty much everyone loves. As long as they can handle spicy food, I never met a person who didn’t like kimchi-jjigae.

I learned this recipe from a restaurant famous for kimchi-jjigae in Korea. The restaurant was always full of people eating and sweating over kimchi stew.  There was only one item on the menu, so everyone was there for the same thing: a steaming pot of spicy kimchi-jjigae, a few side dishes, and a bowl of warm rice. Customers would call out: “Please give me another bowl of rice!”

What really made an impression on me at the time was the fact that they brought the stew out to the table uncooked, and then fired up a burner and cooked it at the table. This way we could sit and talk and watch it cook. I could get a good look at the ingredients: kimchi, onion, green onion, thinly sliced pork on top, and seasonings. There was some white granules (salt, sugar, and probably MSG) and also they used water at the broth base.

From this I developed my own recipe to make at home, which was very delicious

My kimchi-jjigae recipe served me well for years and years and I even made a video of it in 2007. But since then I developed this version, which is even more delicious..

Kimchi Stew
Kimchi Stew

Kimchi Stew (Kimchi Jjigae) preparation:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups aged kimchi, chopped
  • 1/2 pound pork belly or pork shoulder, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
  • 4 cups water or anchovy stock
  • 1 block tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup enoki mushrooms or other mushrooms of your choice
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked rice for serving
Kimchi Stew
Kimchi Stew

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the Ingredients:
    • Chop the kimchi into bite-sized pieces if not already chopped.
    • Slice the pork belly or pork shoulder into thin pieces.
    • Slice the onion and mince the garlic.
    • Cut the tofu into bite-sized cubes.
  2. Cook the Pork:
    • In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
    • Add the sliced pork and cook until it starts to brown, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add Aromatics and Kimchi:
    • Add the sliced onion and minced garlic to the pot. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the onion becomes translucent.
    • Stir in the chopped kimchi and cook for another 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
  4. Add Spices and Liquid:
    • Stir in the gochujang and gochugaru, mixing well to coat the kimchi and pork.
    • Pour in the water or anchovy stock, bringing the mixture to a boil.
  5. Simmer:
    • Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the stew simmer for about 20-30 minutes. This allows the flavors to develop and the kimchi to soften.
  6. Add Tofu and Mushrooms:
    • Gently add the tofu and mushrooms to the stew.
    • Simmer for another 10 minutes, allowing the tofu to absorb the flavors.
  7. Season and Finish:
    • Add the soy sauce and sesame oil, stirring to combine.
    • Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
    • Stir in the chopped green onions just before serving.
  8. Serve:
    • Ladle the kimchi stew into bowls and serve hot with steamed rice on the side.
Kimchi Stew
Kimchi Stew

Tips:

  • Aged kimchi works best for this stew as it has a more pronounced flavor.
  • If you prefer a milder stew, reduce the amount of gochugaru and gochujang.
  • Adding a small amount of sugar can balance the tanginess of the kimchi.

1. What is kimchi stew (Kimchi Jjigae)? Kimchi stew, or Kimchi Jjigae, is a popular Korean dish made with kimchi, pork, tofu, and various vegetables simmered in a flavorful broth. It’s known for its spicy, tangy, and savory taste, making it a comforting and hearty meal, especially during colder months.

2. What type of kimchi should I use for kimchi stew? Aged or well-fermented kimchi is ideal for kimchi stew. The longer fermentation period enhances the tanginess and depth of flavor, which adds richness to the stew. Fresh kimchi can be used but may result in a milder flavor.

3. Can I make kimchi stew without pork? Yes, you can make kimchi stew without pork. Substitute pork with beef, chicken, or seafood, or keep it vegetarian by adding more tofu and vegetables like mushrooms, zucchini, and potatoes.

4. What is gochujang, and can I substitute it? Gochujang is a Korean red pepper paste made from chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt. It adds heat, sweetness, and depth to the stew. If you can’t find gochujang, you can substitute it with a mix of red chili flakes, soy sauce, a bit of sugar, and miso paste, although the flavor will be slightly different.

5. Is kimchi stew very spicy? Kimchi stew can be quite spicy, depending on the amount of gochujang and gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) used. You can adjust the spiciness by adding less of these ingredients or adding more broth to dilute the heat.

6. Can I make kimchi stew in advance? Yes, kimchi stew can be made in advance. In fact, the flavors often deepen and improve after a day or two in the refrigerator. Reheat it on the stove over medium heat until hot before serving.

7. How long does kimchi stew last in the refrigerator? Kimchi stew can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Ensure it is kept in an airtight container to maintain its freshness and prevent it from absorbing other odors.

8. Can I freeze kimchi stew? Yes, you can freeze kimchi stew. Allow it to cool completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe container. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stove before serving.

9. What kind of broth should I use for kimchi stew? Traditionally, anchovy broth is used for kimchi stew, adding a subtle seafood flavor. You can make anchovy broth by simmering dried anchovies and kelp in water. Alternatively, you can use beef broth, chicken broth, or even plain water if you prefer.

10. Can I add other vegetables to kimchi stew? Absolutely! Common additions include zucchini, potatoes, mushrooms, and onions. Feel free to experiment with your favorite vegetables to customize the stew to your liking.

11. How do I prevent tofu from breaking apart in the stew? Tofu can be fragile, especially soft tofu. To prevent it from breaking apart, handle it gently when adding to the stew and try not to stir the pot too vigorously after the tofu has been added.

12. What are some variations of kimchi stew?

  • Seafood Kimchi Stew: Add shrimp, clams, or mussels for a seafood twist.
  • Vegetarian Kimchi Stew: Use vegetable broth and add more vegetables like zucchini, mushrooms, and potatoes.
  • Beef Kimchi Stew: Substitute pork with thinly sliced beef, such as brisket or ribeye.
  • Spicy Tuna Kimchi Stew: Add canned tuna (in oil or water) to the stew for a quick and easy variation.

13. Can I use pre-made kimchi stew base? Yes, pre-made kimchi stew bases are available in Korean grocery stores and can be a convenient option. They typically contain the necessary spices and seasonings, so you only need to add your main ingredients like kimchi, meat, and tofu.

14. How do I adjust the seasoning in kimchi stew?

  • Saltiness: Adjust with soy sauce or salt.
  • Spiciness: Increase or decrease the amount of gochujang and gochugaru.
  • Tanginess: Add more kimchi juice for extra tang.
  • Umami: Add a bit of fish sauce or fermented shrimp paste.

15. What can I serve with kimchi stew? Kimchi stew is typically served with steamed white rice, which helps balance the spicy and tangy flavors. Banchan (Korean side dishes) like kimchi, pickled vegetables, and seasoned spinach make excellent accompaniments. You can also serve it with a simple green salad or roasted seaweed.

16. Is kimchi stew healthy? Kimchi stew can be a nutritious meal. Kimchi itself is rich in probiotics, vitamins, and antioxidants. Adding vegetables and tofu increases the nutritional value. However, the stew can be high in sodium, so those watching their salt intake should adjust the seasoning accordingly.

17. Can I use fresh kimchi for kimchi stew? While aged kimchi is preferred for its robust flavor, fresh kimchi can be used if that’s what you have. You might want to add a bit of vinegar or more kimchi juice to enhance the tanginess.

18. How can I make kimchi stew milder for kids or those sensitive to spice? To make a milder version of kimchi stew, reduce the amount of gochujang and gochugaru. You can also add more broth or water to dilute the spice level. Including more vegetables and tofu can help balance the heat.

In conclusion, kimchi stew is a versatile and flavorful dish that offers numerous customization options to suit different tastes and dietary needs. Whether you prefer it spicy or mild, with meat or vegetarian, kimchi stew is a comforting and satisfying meal that can be enjoyed any time of the year.

Enjoy your delicious and comforting kimchi stew.

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