This spicy kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae or kimchichigae) is served bubbling hot and makes good use of leftover or older kimchi.
Fiery hot, hearty, and full of flavor, kimchi jjigae is great for cold winter days but Koreans can eat it anytime, anywhere—and in fact, they do. It's one of the most popular stews in Korea and is featured at many meals and in traditional restaurants.
There's just one thing to keep in mind when you're planning to make kimchi jjigae—it's spicy. Really, really spicy. Expect to sweat some, and make plenty of extra plain rice to counteract the hot factor. Kimchi jjigae is intended to be eaten slowly, with lots of rice as an accompaniment.
It's better to use older kimchi for this stew since it will have a more pungent, richer flavor to lend to the other ingredients. Younger kimchi may not add that richness, although some people may prefer it.
There is a lot of room for variation in this dish, and everyone has their favorite combination. Some common additions include potatoes, zucchini, and mushrooms. This recipe calls for using beef, pork, or canned tuna. While it's possible to use both beef and pork in the same stew, you shouldn't combine beef or pork with any seafood in this dish. You also can consider adding glass noodles to your stew.
- 3/4 pound beef (thinly sliced) or pork or canned tuna
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 cups kimchi (the kind made with Napa cabbage), roughly chopped
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon kochujang
- 1 tablespoon kochukaru
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 block tofu, cubed
- 2 scallions, chopped
- If using beef or pork, saute in 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil in a soup pot for a few minutes. If using pork, you can halve or omit the oil at this point.
- Add kimchi to pot and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
- Add remaining oil, onion, garlic, kochujang, kochukaru, and soy sauce, mixing to combine.
- Pour water into the pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer.
- Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, adding the tofu after the first 10 minutes and the scallions at the very end.
- Serve this stew immediately after cooking, accompanied with steamed white rice.
If you're using beef, tenderloin is best, but you also can use tougher cuts like stew beef and simmer the stew longer. The types of pork that work best are bacon, pork belly, or Spam. If you're using canned tuna, add it at Step 3.