Kimchi Stew (Kimchi Jjigae)
It’s been a while since I’ve had a dish that has enough heat to tingle my lips and leave a gentle warmth in the back of my throat. Kimchi jjigae is one of the more popular banchan (side dishes) in Korean culture. And why not? It’s incredibly easy to make and oh so satisfying. In America we have beef stew or chili. In France they have beef bourguignon. And in South Korea they have kimchi jjigae. This humble stew consists of diced pork belly, kimchi, a tiny bit of fish sauce, and onions. Fresh scallions, sesame seeds, and nori seaweed garnishes this piping hot bowl of soup and you have a very healthy meal ready to be devoured.
For a while now I’ve wanted to make kimchi stew. I first saw this bubbling soup while watching “The Kimchi Chronicles” on Hulu. Michelin-star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his wife Marja, travel all across South Korea exploring her culture and cuisine. There they eat kimchi in many different ways. Then I saw famous Youtube vlogger and chef Maangchi cook up kimchi jjigae and I was sold. I had to make this dish, and I’m so glad I did!
If you have a great big stock pot you are ready to go. Now let me share with you a few things to note about Korean cooking:
- You’ll notice that the basis of this soup is kimchi. If that scares you a bit, let me reassure you. This soup is not sour. Although it is best prepared with homemade kimchi, (I used the recipe here to make my kimchi last fall), you can use store bought as well.
- This recipe calls for pork belly, and sometimes that can be difficult to find. In fact, I couldn’t find pork belly in my grocery store! Instead, I bought a 1 pound package of seasoned pork chops and sliced it into bite-sized pieces. Problem solved and you don’t have as much fat.
- Lastly, this recipe states that adding 1 slice of American cheese is optional. I did put a small amount of cheese in my stew and it was phenomenal. So while it may be optional, go for it. It’s totally worth it!
Now without further delay, onto the recipe!
Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew)
Courtesy of: Marja Vongerichten, The Kimchi Chronicles Cookbook
Serves: 4-6 generously
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 pound pork belly, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 cups coarsely-chopped kimchi with a bit of it’s liquid
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce, or dashida
- 1 slice American cheese
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced
- About 1/4 cup thinly sliced seaweed
- In a large stock pot, heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add in the pork belly and season with salt and pepper. Stir frequently until browned, about 10 minutes.
- In a food processor, add enough kimchi to make about 3 cups and pulse slightly to break down into bite-sized pieces. Then, add the kimchi and onion into the stock pot.
- Add enough water to nearly cover the pork mixture (about 6 cups), cover, and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the onion and kimchi are softened and the soup has thickened.
- Uncover and stir in the fish sauce, American cheese, and scallions. If the stew is too thick for your liking add a tiny bit of water. Cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes to combine the flavors.
- Serve hot with a bowl of steamed rice. Enjoy!