Marked by a deep, red broth, our kimchi jjigae recipe is spicy and full of flavor! Thick cuts of firm tofu absorb the gochujang, gochugaru, and umami-rich broth. Kimchi jjigae is quickly becoming a favorite in our home.
WHAT IS KIMCHI JJIGAE?
Kimchi jjigae is a classic Korean stew. Widely considered the ultimate comfort food, this dish is a staple found on dinner tables in Korean homes.
WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
For the Broth:
- Fish Sauce: Fish sauce provides umami in place of traditional anchovy stock. If you’re making a vegetarian or vegan version of the jjigae, use marmite or vegan fish sauce made with seaweed.
- Better Than Bouillon: I use Better Than Bouillon and water to flavor the stock. Use their Vegetable version as a vegan or vegetarian option.
- Soy Sauce: Soy sauce adds depth to the broth.
- Gochujang: Korean pepper paste called gochujang is frequently used in Korean cuisine to add sweet heat to a recipe; this paste is made with red pepper flakes, sticky rice, fermented soybean paste, and salt.
- Shiitake Mushrooms: Use fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms, whichever you prefer. I prefer to use dried mushrooms because they add nuttiness to the broth as they rehydrate.
For the Jjigae:
- Onion: Use white or yellow onions.
- Garlic: I suggest using three cloves, but don’t let my recipe tell you how much garlic to use – go for it.
- Scallions: I use the white parts of the scallion to flavor the broth and the greens provide a nice peppery finish.
- Sesame Oil: Sesame oil adds a silkiness to the broth.
- Kimchi: Guess what? Kimchi isn’t just a side dish in banchan; it’s often the main ingredient for multiple recipes. When using kimchi to make stew, be sure it’s fermented and sour- the older, the better; this will increase the flavor of the jjigae.
- Extra-Firm Tofu: In traditional Korean cuisine, soondubu or soft tofu is favored, especially in soups and stews. However, large, rectangular slices of extra firm tofu are standard for kimchi jjigae.
- Gochugaru: Adding heat and a slightly smoky fragrance, dried and deseeded chili peppers are the main ingredients in another Korean staple called gochugaru, or Korean chili flakes. Check the container for spice level; they come in mild, medium, or hot.
VARIATIONS AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Use a combination of mushrooms. Enoki and oyster mushrooms would be a fantastic addition!
- Replace mushrooms with canned tuna, chicken breast, pork belly, canned chicken, or pork tenderloin.
- Include fish cakes or rice cakes.
- Use bone broth rather than Better than Bouillon for an added collagen boost.
- Add a poached, hard-boiled, or soft-boiled egg.
- Use vegetables, and add bok choy, carrots, edamame, napa cabbage, or bean sprouts.
- Stir nutritional yeast into the broth for added flavor.
- Ramyun or ramen is a tasty addition to the soup.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Traditional Korean broth relies heavily on ingredients such as dried anchovy, kelp, and daikon radish to create a delicious base for kimchi stew. Maangchi instructs viewers in a more traditional preparation. Since these ingredients can be hard to find, I use staples from my pantry instead.
You sure can, just add a pinch of sugar or honey to the broth. You can also stir in a teaspoon of homemade hoisin sauce.
Use Marmite or vegan fish sauce in the broth rather than fish sauce. Additionally, use the Vegetable Better than Bouillon instead of beef. Some store-bought kimchi contains fish sauce, oysters, or shrimp, so be sure to inspect your kimchi before use.
My guess? The kimchi used wasn’t fermented enough; this one thing changes everything about the stew! But since you have already made it at this point, let’s do a little recon together. Consider adding salt, more fish sauce, a dash of soy sauce, or a bit of dashi.
Can I freeze kimchi jjigae?
You sure can. Before freezing, remove the tofu. It doesn’t reheat well once frozen. Then, add the rest of the stew to a freezer-safe container or bag. Kimchi jjigae will freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat, defrost in the fridge overnight. To serve, warm it on the stovetop, add fresh tofu to cook along with it, and enjoy!
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Kimchi Jjigae – Kimchi Stew
For the Broth:
For the Jjigae:
- 1 small white onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 scallions, whites, and greens separated, whites cut in 1-inch pieces, and greens thinly sliced
- 1½ tablespoons sesame oil, divided
- ½ cup kimchi, cabbage, and juice
- ½ package extra-firm tofu, sliced into thick rectangles
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons gochugaru
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, coarse ground
- Combine water, fish sauce, soy sauce, gochujang, and Better than Bouillon in a saucepan; if you’re using dried mushrooms, add them in. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes over medium heat, adjusting the temperature to maintain a gentle simmer. Set the broth aside.
- While the broth cooks, make a paste using gochugaru, two teaspoons sesame oil, and ground black pepper. Set it aside.
- Warm a tablespoon of sesame oil in the same pot over medium heat; then, add onion, garlic, and scallion whites. Cook until onions become translucent and soften for about 8 minutes.
- Add the reserved stock. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Next, open and stir in the reserved kimchi.
- Add the tofu and simmer for a few minutes before gently stirring in the spice mixture- careful not to break up the tofu.
- Garnish with scallions, serve with sticky rice, and enjoy!
- If you prefer more kimchi flavor, consider adding 1-2 tablespoons of the kimchi brine to the broth.
- I learned from Hyosun over at Korean Bapsang that when using kimchi, older is better. I find this to be especially true of jjigae.
- If you end up low on broth, it could be that you’ve had the heat too high (tell me how I know that). While simmering, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and not a boil. To recover the broth, add more water. Simmer until the water has taken on the flavor of the other ingredients.