Kimchi Jigae is a korean stew made from kimchi, scallions, onions, tofu, pork or seafood, and red pepper paste. This mixture creates a deep red color and a rich, savory flavor. It is semi-healthy (I say semi only because it traditionally contains fatty pork) and incredibly hearty when eaten with a bowl of rice. I never get sick of it. My roommate and I ate this for 2 months straight in college. I consider it a comfort food. It sure beats ramen and boxed mac n cheese. I had to stop eating it for awhile when I started having stomach problems from chili overload and stress. No bueno.
I was taught the basics of this recipe from a Korean friend. I eventually added my own ingredients but I have still maintained the foundational ingredients. If you are a vegetarian, you can omit the meat ingredients. It doesn’t come out as yummy but it’s still good.
1 medium brown onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp + sesame oil
1-2 Tbsp Red chili paste (depending on how spicy you want it)
3/4 lb Pork bacon (pork belly-NOT AMERICAN BACON!!! Find pork bacon at the Korean market)
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup kimchi
1 cube soft tofu, cubed
3 stalks green onion, chopped
1 cup daikon radish, cubed (optional)
1 medium zucchini, cubed (optional)
Korean Chili flake (to taste)
Put brown onion, garlic and sesame oil in a big pot. Saute these ingredients for a few minutes until translucent- don’t burn the garlic! Add the chili paste.
You can find this at any Korean market.
Stir until the paste coats the onion. Add the pork belly and render the fat (yum). Again, pork bacon/belly is not American bacon. It is the same cut of meat but it is not cured and flavored.
Add the kimchi and cook it for a few minutes. Add the cubed daikon and zucchini. Cover all the ingredients with chicken broth. If the broth doesn’t cover the ingredients, add more until it does. Bring the ingredients to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the kimchi/other vegis are tender but still a bit crunchy. Test the broth to see if you want it more spicy. If so, add the chili flakes a tsp at a time. Don’t get too heavy handed with this because the flakes are very spicy. Add the cubed tofu and green onion. Simmer 5 more minutes.
Apparently this recipe is legitimate because a different Korean friend said that mine taste better than her mom’s! This stew is even suitable for those who don’t like kimchi. My dad abhors kimchi but happily eats this stew. He doesn’t know that it’s kimchi and we will continue to keep this a secret. I hope you make some of your own and tell me how much you love it.