Kimchi Jjigae 김치찌개 Recipe
Sam’s mom (she’s Korean) makes a mean kimchi and whenever she gives me us some, we would allow it to ferment in the fridge. What I meant was that by allowing the kimchi to ferment, we are giving it time to ripen or mature.
I have often stressed that taste is very subjective since it is a matter of personal preference but we do like older kimchi for two reasons: 1) fermented kimchi has a higher amount of “good” bacteria like those found in yoghurt, and 2) they are more flavoursome yet not as acidic/tart as the fresh ones since they have mellowed with time, like wine.
Fermented kimchi is also often preferred over fresh kimchi when it comes to making the spicy Korean stew 김치찌개 (Kimchi Jjigae, Kimchi Chigae, Kimchi Chige) since they have stronger taste and thus richer flavours. Kimchi is the most important ingredient in Kimchi Jjigae 김치찌개, and other secondary ingredients can be added or subtracted according to personal preferences. There’s plenty of room for variation in the fiery dish like using beef, spam, seafood, mushrooms, onions, even zucchini, etc… etc…We use plain water but some folks use anchovy stock for an even heartier stew.
I hope you’ll try to make your own rendition of this stew. It makes a great warming meal during winter! Not that we have winter in Singapore, we just love to eat 😉
Kimchi Jjigae 김치찌개 Recipe (serves 2 – 4)
750g fermented Kimchi (the kind made with Nappa cabbage), roughly chopped if they are very long
500g Pork Belly (*beef)
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
5 cloves Garlic, coarsely minced
½ – 1 tablespoon Gochujang (고추장 – Korean spicy fermented red pepper paste)
½ – 1 tablespoon Doenjang (된장 – Korean fermented bean paste)
½ tablespoon Kochukaru, optional (crushed red pepper that is slightly sweeter and smokier than normal chilli flakes)
½ – 1 tablespoon Light Soy Sauce (or salt, to taste)
1 litre of Water
1 block of firm silken Tofu, cubed
50g Tanghoon (mungbean threads or glass noodles), soaked in water till soften and drain away water
2 stalks Scallions, cut into ½ inch lengths
1. Heat a heavy saucepan and saute pork belly in the sesame oil for a few minutes until meat is no longer raw looking. Add the minced garlic and stir-fry till it turns opaque.
2. Add kimchi to pot and stir-fry for about five minutes.
3. Pour water into the pot and bring to a boil.
4. Mix the gochujang, doenjang and kochukaru together, and then stir into the stew. Let the water come to a gentle boil.
5. Lower heat, cover (leave a slight gap between lid and pot) and simmer for 25-30 minutes. If necessary, stew slightly longer to reduce broth to the consistency you like but make sure to have enough as mungbean threads (to be added later) does absorb some of the broth during cooking.
6. Add tofu after 20 minutes into the cooking. Add tanghoon and when soft (a few minutes), add scallions.
7. Give a quick stir, turn off fire and serve piping hot with plain rice.
* If using beef, tenderloin is best and simmer the stew longer so meat is tender. You may also use seafood and add them after the kimchi is tender and broth is tasty (approximately during the last 10 minutes of cooking), once seafood is cooked, add scallions and dish out.
Happy cooking, eating and bonding 🙂