Saturday, December 18, 2010

I cooked: Kimchi jjigae (Kimchi stew)

I love eating Korean food. The first dish I ever tried in a Korean restaurant was kimchi jjigae. I instantly fell in love with it. There is just something immensely comforting about kimchi jjigae.

Kimchi jjigae or chigae is one of the most popular Korean meals. Known as the mother of all Korean stews, it is a spicy stew made with kimchi, onions, diced tofu, scallions, pork or seafood and is to be enjoyed with a bowl of hot rice.

We previously made a batch of kimchi and found that the kimchi has matured, so what better dish to cook than kimchi jjigae. The Unc often makes this in Germany and always mentions how easy it is; I love simple recipes especially now that I have two kids to look after. He shared this recipe from No Recipes that he uses. No Recipes is a really fantastic blog; beautiful photos and things that I would and could actually cook in my own kitchen. Can't wait to try more of his recipes! I found out later that Marc, the owner of the blog is also one of the finalist for Foodbuzz's Project Food Blog. Amazing!

Anyway back to the kimchi jjigae.. matured kimchi is great as it gives the soup a much stronger and flavourful taste. The more mature the kimchi is, the higher the content of good bacteria too. Apparently, the soup tastes even better when left overnight and enjoyed the next day as the flavours are even richer then.

Our kimchi has released a lot of juices (the red liquid), so it was perfect to be used in this stew. No Recipes suggested the use of miso as it adds an earthy flavour and a lot more body to the soup, and I have to agree. The soup tasted very different from what I've had in Korean restaurant's before. It was REALLY good. Without the miso, the soup tasted somewhat more diluted. He also suggests that a little butter is added right at the very end (not too early as it would make the soup oily) as it will thicken the soup and make it richer. Another alternative to butter is to add sesame oil, a tip which The Unc has passed on to me. I found this recipe to be fantastic; the soup was appetizing and hearty. We loved it so much that we just couldn't help licking our bowls clean.

Kimchi jjigae (Kimchi spicy stew or soup)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 - 20 minutes
Serves 4

2 tbsp vegetable oil
200g lean pork, sliced thinly (You can reduce the amount of pork if you find this too much)
1 onion, sliced thinly
100g kimchi, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
100ml kimchi juice
550ml water
2 tbsp cooking wine (I used Shaoxing)
2 tbsp miso or doenjang (I used miso)
4 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp gochujang (hot pepper paste)
1 piece beancurd, cubed
2 stalks spring onion, sliced
1 red chilli, sliced
1 tbsp butter
Gochugaru (optional)

1. Marinate the pork with the Shaoxing wine.

2. Heat the oil in a small, deep pot and fry the pork, kimchi and garlic for 3-5 minutes. When the meat has browned, add the kimchi juice, onion, water, gochujang, miso and soy sauce, stirring everything together to combine.

3. Bring to boil and taste for spiciness. If you prefer your soup spicy, then add some gochugaru. I decided to omit the gochugaru as our kimchi was quite spicy.

4. Allow the soup to simmer for 10-15 minutes, then add the tofu and cook for another 2 minutes.

5. Add the butter right at the end before serving and give it a quick stir to incorporate. Garnish with the spring onions and red chillies.

Dinner in a jiffy
For a seafood version, you can substitute the pork with canned tuna (yes, it works!).


  1. I usually refer to for korean recipes. :)

  2. I refer to maangchi for many recipes as well, but norecipes' version of kimchi jjigae trumps hers by a mile!

  3. somehow i've never managed to learn to appreciate kimchi! it's just too sourish for me ... but my favorite korean comfort food is bibimbap! that one i could eat regularly and happily :D

  4. Sean: Freshly made kimchi is not sourish at all.. you must have eaten some matured ones in the past.

  5. i also love kimchi, used to cook kimchi soup on my diet day with add in lots of veggie, filling & yummy~~ Seem like I have to cook this again, I put on weight a lot *sob*sob*

  6. Choi Yen: Ooo do you make your own kimchi too? Btw when I saw you, you look very slim ah....

  7. Honestly, I'm not a fan of Kimchi. I do eat but just moderately.. but this one looks good. If you put this in front of me, I'm sure I'll try it without hesitation :)

  8. zoe: I guess that's the beauty of making it yourself.. you can make it as spicy as u wan or vice versa.

  9. i'm a diehard fan of maangchi too. Her recipes are often spot on, try the tofu jiggae! its good!!

  10. I didn't DIY the kimchi ler..
    Har, u r so kind, I'm not slim at all at least if compare with u :P

  11. i love kimchi jjigae very much too!!!

  12. Melissa: Ask your mummy to cook this for you - very easy!

  13. Kimchi jjigae is one of my very favorite things in the whole world--especially if I can eat it with kim (toasted laver seaweed). Mmmmmmm.

  14. No Recipes suggested the use of miso as it adds an earthy flavour and a lot more body to the soup, and I have to agree. The soup tasted very different from what I've had in Korean restaurant's before.

    You could add miso, but that would give kimchi chigae a heavier taste. If you want to give it a more earthy and full-bodied flavor, you can sautee beef instead of the pork or you can add canned tuna later on. The key to a flavorful broth lies in how you sautee its base. You can even make a full-bodied vegetarian chigae with mushrooms. For Koreans, the broth needs to have a sharp and refreshing flavor, which gets dulled by adding a starchy protein. Leaving out the wine would also keep the broth from being further diluted.

    I have a post on kimchi and how to cook with it on my blog:


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