1.28.16 Kimchi Jjigae (Korean-Style Kimchi Stew)
For a large part of my sister’s life, she was a picky eater. And not just a little picky. I’m pretty sure she only willingly ate cheese, buttered noodles, and instant ramen for the first 18 years of her life.
This may have continued on indefinitely had it not been for the fact that in college, my sister decided to study abroad in South Korea. You can understand why initially, we were a little concerned. After all, cheese, which constituted a huge part of her diet, is relatively hard to come by in Korea. We figured that there could only be one of two outcomes to this situation: 1. my sister would starve, or 2. she would no longer be a picky eater. Luckily for all of us, she went with option 2.
Today, my sister will eat pretty much anything. In fact, after returning from her study abroad in Seoul, she shared her newfound taste for Korean cookery with our family, introducing me to kimchi, which at the time, I had never tried before. I immediately loved its spicy, funky, fermented flavor, and to this day am always finding ways to add it into my cooking.
One such method of kimchi consumption is in the form of a kimchi stew known as kimchi jjigae. Of course, my version is probably not all that authentic (it has bacon in it after all), but what it may lack in authenticity, it more than makes up for in pure deliciousness. Gochujang (Korean fermented chile paste) and gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes) add heat, while a healthy dose of kimchi adds tons of bright flavor. It’s just the thing you need on a cold winter day. And if you’re still not sold on the whole kimchi thing, let me just say this: If the world’s pickiest eater can learn to love kimchi, then so can you.
Kimchi Jjigae (Korean-Style Kimchi Stew)
serves 2 generously
I always have kimchi, gochujang, and gochugaru on hand at all times if possible, and I recommend you do the same. Here’s why: 1. Besides this soup, you can use them in a number of other delicious ways; 2. They’re relatively easy to find at most Asian grocery stores, and pretty inexpensive to boot; and 3. They will keep forever.
- 2 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into pieces
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tsp soy sauce + more to taste
- 1 Tbsp Gochujang
- 2 tsp Gochugaru or to taste
- 1 cup Kimchi, squeezed dry and chopped + ¼ cup kimchi liquid
- 2 ½ cups water
- 6 oz tofu, cut into large cubes
- thinly sliced scallions and sesame seeds for garnish
1. In a medium pot, cook the bacon pieces over medium heat until beginning to crisp. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and cook until beginning to soften, about 3-4 minutes.
2. Add the soy sauce, gochujang, gochugaru, and kimchi and cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add kimchi juice and water and simmer 20-30 minutes. Season to taste with additional soy sauce if needed,
4. Add tofu and cook until warmed through, about 3-4 minutes more. Ladle soup into bowls and serve topped with scallions and sesame seeds.