Kimchi chigae. A hearty, spicy stew made from kimchi. Kimchi, in case you’re wondering, is lacto-fermented napa cabbage made with lots and lots of red pepper. Think of it as piquant sauerkraut. Also made with daikon radishes or other veggies, kimchi is the soul of Korean cuisine.
Like most Korean Americans, I don’t know how to make kimchi and just buy it at the store. It’s tough but I try to find tasty and MSG-free brands.
I’ve always wanted to make kimchi chigae but assumed it must be insanely complicated. Then one day, with a slightly overripe jar of kimchi in the fridge, I ran across this post by Yarn Abuse. I’m actually pretty good at amalgamating recipes, so after an extensive survey of online recipes, I came up with this:
I tend to load numerous ingredients in my cooking. The absolute essentials are pork, kimchi, red pepper paste, red pepper powder, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, green onion, and water. The rest are optional.
Kimchi Chigae (3-4 servings)
Total cooking time: about 40 minutes. Get all ingredients ready before starting to cook. Put in large saucepan with heavy bottom:
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- optional: a drizzle of sesame oil. It should have a dark amber color and very strong aroma.
Turn heat to medium high. When hot, add:
- 6-8 ounces (*edit: or more, esp. if you don’t use dashi) of sliced pork belly, cut into bite size pieces. Or substitute boneless pork chop, or even beef.
- 2 small cloves garlic, minced
- 1 heaping teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger
- 1-2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red pepper paste). Don’t overdo it now; you can add more later.
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Use less if you’re using Kikkoman or similarly salty soy sauce.
Mix ingredients and fry, turning occasionally, for a couple of minutes. Add:
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
Continue to cook until onions are translucent. Then add:
- 1-3 tablespoons gochugaru (ground dried red pepper; this is not like the pepper flakes you put on pizza, which has seeds). Depends on how hot you want it.
23 cups or so ripe kimchi, sliced (*edit: add more if you like lots of kimchi)
- enough water to just cover ingredients
- optional: heaping tablespoon of MSG-free dashi, available at some Japanese grocers. You can use a bit of Korean dashida (beef or anchovy flavoring mix) but I avoid it because it’s mostly MSG.
- optional: 1 jalapeno, sliced
Stir. Cover with lid, turn heat to low, and simmer 20-25 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed with more red pepper paste and red pepper powder. Add
- 1/2 pound medium or firm tofu, drained and cubed
- optional (and not authentic): a few fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced.
Turn up heat and let it come back to a boil; let it boil for another 4-5 minutes. Add
- 4-6 green onions, sliced however you want
After 1 minute, turn off heat. Now it’s ready to serve with some cooked rice (short grain Korean or Japanese varieties are best; Calrose or Kokuho Rose are okay).