Kimchi Jjiggae by cryptoclastic
So a quick look at the Goons With Spoons wiki has shown me that there’s only three total recipes under the Korean cuisine heading. This makes me a little sad, honestly, especially since one of them is just a side dish, and another is for straight up kimchi. I’ve been living in Korea for two and a half years now, and have definitely grown to love the cuisine, and even learned to cook a bit of it!
Now, since there was apparently a big kimchi making thread a few months back, I’m assuming a lot of you have kimchi. As such, today I’m going to show you how to make what is pretty much the easiest dish out there to use your kimchi in. Kimchi jjigae! If you talk to your average married Korean man, he usually knows how to cook just a handful of dishes. One of them is usually kimchi jjigae. This means it’s ridiculously easy!
Essentially, you take kimchi, cut it up, and boil it for a while. That’s kimchi jjigae. The awesome part about kimchi jjigae is that while it is at its core really simple to make, there are lots of different little ways you can tweak it to make the final product different. You can add things like ginger or garlic, gochujang, tuna instead of pork. Noodles, vegetables, whatever. Some people even add vinegar or soju. As such, almost everyone has their own different take on it.
So anyway, here is what we’re going to need to make my version.
- 1kg of kimchi!
- 500g samgyupsal/pork belly
- 1 onion
- 3 or so large Korean green onions (optionalish)
- ½ a thing or so of enoki mushrooms
- 1 pack of tofu
- 1 tbsp or so of doenjang (Korean miso?)
- 1 tsp of red pepper powder
- Dash of sesame oil
That’s pretty much it. Keep in mind, this is also quite a bit. I like my jjigae with less soup and more meatiness, and I still get four servings out of it. For just two people you could half this recipe no problem.
To start, do all your prep. Start pressing your tofu: wrap it in paper towel, put something flattenable on it, and then a weight. Cut your onion up, I usually half it, then slice it and cut twice. For the onions, small rounds. Mushrooms, just cut the base off.
Next, take your pork belly and cut it up into about one inch pieces, lengthwise. This is a bit less than 500g, but I was trying to be a little bit healthier than normal.
Throw these pieces into a pot. My pot here is pretty big, but I’m cooking a lot.
Brown the meat, and then add a spoonful of your doenjang. Here I added too much, but it’s fine. The doenjang isn’t necessary, but I find it adds a nice tanginess to the stew. A lot of the restaurants that serve high quality kimchi jjigae do this, so I figured I might as well too. Some people add gochujang (red pepper paste) instead of doenjang, and some add both. I personally find the gochujang sweetens up the jjigae too much.
Anyway, yeah, add the doenjang, stir it up and coat everything, and then throw in your sliced up onion (the normal one, not the green).
Then what you’re going to do is add in your kimchi, and water. If your kimchi is in a whole bunch, like mine, then you can do it a few different ways. Some people throw in on the cutting board and chop it up there. I don’t like this method, as it tends to be a bit messy for my tastes. What lots of people do here is just cut the damn thing up right over the pot using a pair of scissors. In lots of restaurants, the kimchi itself will actually still be boiled completely whole, and using a pair of scissors and tongs you cut it up right before you eat. Either way, you’re looking for something around an inch to two inches thick slices, more or less. About the size a normal piece of kimchi would be when you eat it.
After it’s all cut, throw it in the pot, add water to cover it (make sure to use kimchi juice from the bag or whatever it was stored in, too!). Then, you can add some red pepper flake.
Be careful with this stuff. The first time I used it I added a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon. I shit liquid fire for two days. There’s a fine balance. You could honestly omit it if you wanted, but I like mine hotter, so in it goes. About a teaspoon.
Next, just make sure everything is all stirred in, clamp on the lid, and let her boil for about twenty minutes. This following picture is pre boil, for reference.
After twenty minutes, you’ll notice it looks different. The broth has darkened, looks prettier. At this point you can add in your chopped up green onion and the white mushrooms. Some places leave these till pretty much the very end, but I prefer throwing them in now.
After another five or ten minutes, it’s time to add your sliced up tofu.
Let it go for another five or so minutes after that, and then add just a splash of sesame oil. Then it’s into a bowl and time to serve!
You have now made kimchi jjigae! Eat up. This is especially great on a cold winter night, with some soju at a bar. Or just at home! Traditionally served alongside white rice, and still boiling hot, but that’s up to you.