Kimchi Jjigae

Kimchi Jjigae

This fiery stew features the country’s most famous ingredient,
kimchi, boiled up with scallions, onion, garlic and gochujang (red
pepper paste), and topped off with pork, tofu or tinned tuna.

Despite being built to last, even kimchi can pass its best, but that doesn’t mean it’s ready for retirement. Kimchi jjigae was designed with recycling in mind using leftover kimchi. The stew is ideal on crisp, cold days and is being prescribed (nonmedically of course) to clear up colds. Despite its heat – both of the temperature and spice varieties – you’ll find it on menus nationwide even in the steamiest summer months.

You’ll need
1 tbs sesame oil
300g (11oz) pork, preferably
pork rashers or pork belly,
About 2 cups (500mL) of
kimchi – the older and
funkier the better
½ onion, peeled and sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and
2 tbs gochujang (hot pepper
3 cups (750mL) hot water
200g (7oz) tofu, chopped
¼ cup chopped spring onions
Steamed rice to serve

Cooking Method
1 Heat a deep saucepan, add the sesame oil and heat briefly.
2 Add the pork and fry until lightly browned and any fat is slightly crispy.
3 Add the kimchi and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4 Add the sliced onion, crushed or minced garlic and two generous dollops of gochujang (more if your spice threshold is higher!)
5 Add 2 cups (500mL) of the water, plus any juices from the kimchi and bring to the boil.
6 Partially remove the lid and reduce the heat, simmering for 20–30 minutes. Add more water if the broth begins to evaporate or is too pungent for your tastes.
7 Add the chopped tofu and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
8 Sprinkle on the chopped scallions just before you remove the stew from the heat, and stir.
9 Serve the stew with steamed rice on the side – and keep a handkerchief handy!

Tasting notes
Like many of the country’s stews, kimchi jjigae is served literally boiling hot, the broth still bubbling when it reaches your table. It’s traditionally a communal dish, and while you’ll often find it surrounded by the numerous banchan (side dishes) ubiquitous in Korean cuisine, it can also be ordered as a main meal with a simple side of rice at inexpensive lunchtime eateries. Stewed kimchi retains a touch of crunch and lends a complex flavour to the broth – you’ll taste not only the ingredients added to the pot but also everything used to make the kimchi itself. To soften the heat, eat it with a little rice, or keep a stash of plain rice aside to chomp between slurps.

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