Kimchi jjigae is one of the most common and classic Korean stews! This is a simple recipe with a few twists and tips by Korean chef Baek Jong won. The most important key ingredient is having good, very ripe kimchi!
There are many variations to kimchi jjigae and every Korean mom has their way of making kimchi stew. Some variations have canned tuna, spam, hot dog, you name it, but the most common version is made with pork, kimchi and tofu. Growing up kimchi jjigae was one of my favorite meals and we always had an abundance of it which meant I got to enjoy it as much I wanted!
Now that we live far from home, I’m
still usually buying kimchi and it’s a hot commodity. I can’t usually afford to use that much kimchi for one dish! In a recent trip to Koreantown in NJ, we bought a huge pack of kimchi and now I don’t know what to do with all of it! Hence, my exploration into kimchi jjigaes!
Baek Jong Won’s Twists and Tips on this recipe
This recipe came out in Season 1 of “House Cook Master Paik”. He also highlighted it on his YouTube channel last year. He diverges a bit a common practice and the flavors in this stew are very strong that I made a few modifications listed below.
Pork and Kimchi: Many people stir-fry the pork and kimchi together to make the stew. In this recipe, instead of stir-frying it, Chef Baek boils and simmers the pork for a long time with water. He mentioned this is how to bring out all the fat and flavors into the broth. Often, Korean stews taste even better on the second day and he notes that the long boiling period is what helps. So here, instead of stir-frying, we make pork broth first, and then add the kimchi and boil again. I was a bit skeptical on how the kimchi would taste but the kimchi was still very soft from simmering!
The most important thing is to use good, over ripped kimchi. If you just made the kimchi and it’s still fresh, it will not have the same flavor and will not be as good! This is key.
Korean red pepper flakes: This recipe uses both coarse and fine. Fine red pepper flakes is more for the bright red color than . It will also make the soup thicker. His recipe uses 2 Tbsp of both coarse and fine gochugaru each but even 1 Tbsp each for me was too much as the spicy kick nearly overpowered the other flavors. We found 2 tsp of each to be a good balance!
Salty seasoning: Soup soy sauce is different from regular soy sauce! If you don’t have soup soy sauce you can season with salt and just a tiny bit of regular soy sauce. The flavor of soy sauce is stronger but soup soy sauce is milder and saltier. Salted shrimp is also used for a deeper flavor of seasoning. The original recipe uses 1 Tbsp but I cut it down to ½ Tbsp. I don’t think I would miss it much if I did not add this specifically. You will want to add some saltiness to balance out the soup!
Boil and simmer as long as you can! The flavors will come together and make a deeper broth!
Kimchi Jjigae by Chef Baek Jong Won
- 120 g (4 oz pork), (pork belly, pork shoulder etc), cut into small pieces
- 400 ml (14 oz) rice water, more as needed
- 1 tsp doenjang korean soybean paste
- 175 g (1 cup) chopped kimchi, packed -- instead of 150 g
- ¼ cup juice from kimchi* optional
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 green onion chopped
- 1 spicy pepper chopped
- 2 tsp Korean fine red pepper powder go-eun gochugaru
- 2 tsp Korean coarse red pepper powder gochugaru
- 1 Tbsp soup soy sauce
- ½ Tbsp salted shrimp
- 8 ounces tofu cut into about ½ inch thick slices.
- Place the cut pork into a medium sized pot.
- Save 14 oz of rice water. Rinse uncooked rice once with water, and pour the water out. Rinse again, and pour the rice water into the pot. Continue to make rice for the kimchi jjigae!
- Add 1 tsp of doenjang to the pot and mix well. Bring the rice water and pork to a boil. Continue to simmer -- at least 30 minutes if you have the time.
- Add the kimchi, minced garlic and kimchi juice (if using) to the pot. Bring to a boil and continue to simmer until the kimchi becomes soft, at least 5 minutes.
- Once boiling, add the green onion and pepper and mix. Add the fine and coarse red pepper powder. Mix well. Add the soup soy sauce and salted shrimp, mix well. If the soup has reduced too much, add a bit of water and continue to simmer so the flavors come together.
- Finally, add the sliced tofu. Spoon a bit of the soup liquid over the tofu. Cover the pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Enjoy!