Pork Kimchi Stew (Kimchi Jjigae)

Kimchi Jjigae

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 700g (1.5 lbs) pork belly, cut in slices
  • 300g (2/3 lbs) kimchi, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, shredded
  • 2 Tbsps soy sauce (dark)
  • 1 Tbsp mirin
  • 2 Tbsp gochujang
  • 3 cups chicken or pork broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch green onion, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 package shimeji mushrooms, trimmed
  • 1/2 pkg (170g) medium tofu, sliced
  • butter

Directions

Sauté the pork on medium-high heat until browned. Add the chopped kimchi, reserving the kimchi liquid, and stir regularly until kimchi is heated fully. Add the water and broth. Add the soy sauce, mirin, gochujang, and kimchi liquid. Stir and cook until the stew starts to simmer. Stir in the shredded garlic. Add the mushroom and the green onions, stirring to mix. Lay the tofu across the top of the stew, spooning some of the stew over the tofu to coat. Cover the soup and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the mushrooms and tofu are cooked through. Spoon the stew into bowls and drop about 1 tsp of butter on the top of each bowl. Serve with a bowl of white rice.

And now for the details…

I know what you must be thinking… ummm… Emily, I didn’t realize you were Korean…? No, no I am not. And what do I know about authentic Korean cooking? Not much at all, except that what Korean food I have eaten is delicious and I will do what I can to recreate it. Particularly this stew. This stew was love at first bite when I tried it at Ogam Chicken. It has all the things you could hope for in a stew. The flavour is a mouth-watering combination of salty, umami-rich, spicy, and tangy. With the little chunks of pork, kimchi, and tofu, this stew is also quite hearty. Pair it with a bowl of white rice and it is pure magic.

Eating kimchi jjigae in restaurants, you often get it served in a hot stone bowl called a dolsot. I do have a dolsot that I received as a gift. But alas, I still have not used it, as it does not work so well (i.e. at all) on an induction stove. I will need to get myself a hot plate to resolve this issue! Until then, a heavy bottomed pot will need to do the job.

Cooking with new ingredients is always both scary and exciting. There were a number of ingredients in this recipe that I had never used for cooking until I made this stew the first time.

Gochujang, which is a chilli paste, was a brand new ingredient for me the first time I made jjigae. I find it more earthy than spicy, although it definitely does provide some heat. It’s a deep, rich red and has an almost smoky yet sweet quality to it that really deepens the flavour of the dish.

Kimchi itself was something I had eaten on a number occasions, but had never cooked with at home. My favourite is baechu kimchi, which is made from the whole Napa cabbage. Luckily, it is usually the easiest to find in stores as well. Kimchi can be quite different brand-to-brand, and the store I get my ingredients from also does some fresh house-made kimchi as well. They will vary in the level of tartness, saltiness, and spiciness, which will change the way the stew ultimately tastes. Play around with the different kinds to find one you enjoy.

Let’s get to cooking.

Start by preparing your ingredients. Cut the green onions into 1″ pieces and set them aside. Take the kimchi out of its liquid, allowing most of the liquid to drain back into its container (set the liquid aside, we will be using that!), and chop the kimchi roughly to get some bite-sized pieced. Set the kimchi aside. Trim the mushrooms and set them aside. I use shimeji mushrooms because I enjoy them so much, but if you prefer white or brown button mushrooms, simply cut them into quarters or halves, depending on the size of the mushrooms (cut them into 1/8th’s if they are really big). Slice the tofu into 5-6mm (~1/4″) slices and set aside. Lastly, cut the pork belly into small, bite-sized slices.

We start by cooking the pork belly. Many recipes will call to add the pork belly to the broth once it is prepared, but I like cooking the pork first, getting a nice build up of the pork fat as it renders, and caramelizing the meat slightly. Add the pork belly to your pot with the heat set at medium-high. Sauté until the meat has cooked through almost completely and has started to brown. Stir this regularly, as I find the pork belly will try to stick to the bottom of the pot. If there is an large amount of fat pooling in the bottom of the pot, drain some, but keep the majority of the fat in the pot.

Once the pork belly is cooked through, add the kimchi to the pot, stirring regularly until any liquid that remained with the kimchi has cooked off and the kimchi is heated all the way through.

Next we start to add our liquid. Add the broth and the water, stirring while paying particular attention to the bottom of the pot to help stir in any of the caramelized pork that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot. Then, add the soy sauce, mirin and gochujang. Add a tablespoon or two of the kimchi liquid into the pot and allow everything to heat up until the stew starts to simmer.

Taste test the broth at this point to see if it is meeting your taste preference. Add more kimchi liquid if you want to increase the spiciness, saltiness and tartness of the broth. Now is also the point when you will add the shredded garlic to the stew. Lower the temperature to about medium or medium-low.

Next, add your mushrooms and green onions, and stir them into the broth. Then lay the tofu across the top, and spoon some of the broth over the tofu to coat it. I forgot to buy tofu the first time I made this for photos, so please excuse the, er, temporary costume (i.e. pot) change in this next photo.

Cover the pot an allow the stew to… well… stew… for about 8-10 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the tofu is heated through completely and everything is a nice, bubbly container of deliciousness.

Finally, we eat. Spoon the stew out into bowls, top with about 1 tsp of butter per bowl, and serve on its own or with a small bowl of cooked white rice.

Happy eating.