Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew)

Kimchi jiigae is the Queen of all Korean stews. It’s one of the most classic and common dishes in Korean cuisine. There are so many variations to this dish – you can make it with pork belly, spare ribs, mackerel, tofu, sliced beef, seafood, and more!

Growing up, my mom would make kimchi jjigae for me at least once a week. It was a great way to use the extra sour and fermented kimchi that has been sitting in the back of the fridge. She would use pork bones as the main protein because picking all that succulent meat around the bones was my favorite part. Pork bones add a ton of flavor but it also takes a longer time to cook and tenderize, compared to other proteins.

Pork belly is a great alternative because it cooks much faster while adding just as much flavor! It is pork belly after all. 🙂

Boiling the pork in the first step of this recipe will extract the flavors of the fat into the base of the stew. This also softens the meat, resulting in extra tender pieces of pork belly in every bite. I like using pork belly but you can substitute this for pork shoulder as well.

What is Kimchi Jjigae?

Because kimchi is such a staple food in Korean homes, Kimchi jjigae is one of the most-loved and common dishes in Korean cuisine. Kimchi is an excellent ingredient for various Korean dishes, like kimchi jjigae, especially as it ages and continues to ferment. 

Kimchi jjigae is a classic Korean stew that is considered the ultimate comfort food for most Korean people across the world. This warm, spicy, and savory iconic stew mainly features fatty pork meat and kimchi. These two main ingredients are staples in Korean cuisine.

When the pork fat melts into the soup, your ordinary kimchi soup becomes richer and even more flavorful. I mean, who could resist!?

Kimchi jijgae is commonly served in Korean households, together with other side dishes or banchan. Traditionally, Korean stews were served in a huge pot at the center of the table and everyone would eat communally from the pot. 

While kimchi jjigae and kimchi soup both have kimchi as the main ingredient, kimchi jjigae is thicker and a bit saltier than the soup.

How to Make Kimchi Jjigae

Kimchi Jjigae takes a little over half an hour to make. And today, I’m sharing my own recipe that only requires a few ingredients that you can easily find. 

Follow my kimchi jjigae recipe instructions below!

Step 1: Slice the pork and boil to create the soup base.

The first step is preparing the soup base of the stew. You can do this by first cutting the pork into half-inch pieces, and then placing them in a ddukbaegi (Korean earthenware pot) or regular pot. 

Next, add some water and salted fermented shrimp. Bring this to a boil and cook under medium-low fire for about 15 minutes.

Step 2: Prepare your other ingredients.

While boiling the pork, you can prepare the other ingredients.

Chop the scallions and peppers into ¼ inch pieces and slice the tofu into small chunks. Set them aside.

Step 3: Add the kimchi and spices to the pork.

After 15 minutes of boiling the pork, add your aged kimchi, coarse gochugaru, fine gochugaru, and garlic.

Allow the stew to simmer for another 15 minutes. By this time, your kimchi should be softened already.

Step 4: Season your stew and add the tofu.

Once the 15 minutes has passed, taste your stew and season accordingly. Depending on how salty your kimchi is, you may need to add some soy sauce. 

When you’re satisfied with how your stew tastes, add the chunks of tofu on top. Keep in mind that tofu is a very delicate ingredient. So don’t mix your stew around after adding the tofu. 

Step 5: Garnish and serve hot.

Remember the scallions and peppers you sliced earlier? Now’s the time to use them as garnish. After putting these final ingredients, let your stew simmer for another 30 seconds.

Now your Kimchi Jjigae is ready! Serve hot with a bowl of fresh white rice and enjoy!

Pork belly is a great alternative because it cooks much quicker and it adds a ton of flavor. It is pork belly after all 🙂

Boiling the pork in the first step of this recipe will extract the fat and flavor into the base of the stew. This also softens the meat, resulting in extra tender pieces of pork belly in every bite. I like using pork belly but you can substitute this for pork shoulder as well.

Kimchi Jjigae

One of the most classic Korean stews!
Servings 2 people
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins

Ingredients

  • 5 oz pork belly sliced
  • 2 cups sour kimchi chopped
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1 long green peppers sliced
  • 1/2 block tofu sliced
  • 1 stalk scallion chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp coarse gochugaru red pepper powder
  • 1/2 tbsp fine gochugaru red pepper powder
  • 1/2 tbsp salted fermented shrimp
  • 1/2 tbsp soup soy sauce optional, to taste

Instructions

  • Cut the pork into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • In a ddukbaegi (or pot), add the pork, water and salted fermented shrimp.
  • Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes over medium-low heat.
  • Chop the scallions and peppers into 1/4 inch pieces. Set aside.
  • Slice the tofu into chunks. Set aside.
  • After 15 minutes, add the kimchi, coarse gochugaru, fine gochugaru, and garlic.
  • Let the stew simmer for another 15 minutes until the kimchi has softened.
  • Taste for seasoning and add soup soy sauce if needed. Depending on how salty your kimchi is, you may or may not need to add this so be sure to taste first!
  • Once the seasoning is complete, add the tofu on top. Tofu is very delicate so avoid mixing the stew after you add it in.
  • Garnish with the scallions and peppers and let simmer for another 30 seconds.
  • Serve hot with a fresh bowl of rice and enjoy!

Notes

  1. While the ddukbaegi isn’t essential to make this recipe, using it will keep the stew hot for a long period of time. 
  2. You can substitute the pork belly with pork shoulder or pork bones (ribs, neck bone)
  3. If you don’t have salted fermented shrimp, you can substitute with 1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce.
  4. Every kimchi is made differently so the salt levels will vary. Be sure to taste as you go along and add the soup soy sauce to taste.
  5. Tofu should be added after the seasoning is complete. It is very delicate and will break apart so you want to avoid mixing the stew after the tofu is added.
  6. The stew tastes better as it sits so this will be even more delicious the next day as left overs.
  7. f you don’t have old kimchi and you don’t have time to wait for it to turn sour, add a small amount of vinegar before using it.
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Korean

Final Thoughts

Kimchi Jjigae is a classic Korean stew that features an amazing balance of spiciness, savoriness, and a bit of sweetness.

If you’re looking for the perfect weeknight meal that gives comfort and warmth, Kimchi Jjigae should be your go-to dish. Try out my recipe soon and you’ll understand why Kimchi Jjigae is the queen of all Korean stews!

For those who have tried it already, let me know what you think or share a snapshot of your own Kimchi Jjigae!

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