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Vegetarian Kimchi Jjigae – Kimchi Stew

Vegetarian Kimchi JjigaeMarked by a deep, red broth, our vegetarian kimchi jjigae is spicy and full of flavor! Thick cuts of firm tofu absorb the gochujang, gochugaru, and umami-rich broth.

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:

  • Fysh Sauce: Fysh sauce provides umami in place of traditional anchovy stock. I use a vegan fysh sauce made with seaweed, but you can also use marmite.
  • Better Than Bouillon: I use Mushroom Better Than Bouillon and water to flavor the stock. You can also use the roasted Vegetable version.
  • 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. Also, be aware that some store-bought kimchi contains fish sauce, oysters, or shrimp, so be sure to inspect your kimchi before use. 
  • 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!
  • Include rice cakes.
  • 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.

COOKING TIPS

  • 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, you may have set 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.

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WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS 

  • FRIDGE – Store leftovers in an airtight container; it will keep for 2-3 days.
  • FREEZER – 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.
  • REHEAT – Warm leftovers on the stovetop, add fresh tofu to cook with it, and enjoy!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I create a more traditional broth?

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 vegetarian staples from my pantry instead. 

Can I sweeten the jjigae to balance the heat?

You sure can- add a pinch of sugar or honey to the broth! You can also stir in a teaspoon of homemade hoisin sauce.

Why is my broth coming out flat?

My guess? The kimchi wasn’t fermented enough; this one ingredient can completely alter the stew! But since you have already made it at this point, let’s do a little recon together. Consider adding salt, more fysh sauce, or a dash of soy sauce.

YOU SHOULD ALSO TRY:

A single serving of vegetarian kimchi jjigae topped with scallions.

Vegetarian Kimchi Jjigae – Kimchi Stew

Tressa Jamil
Our savory kimchi jjigae recipe is made with traditional ingredients and makes it possible to enjoy this famous Korean stew right in your own kitchen.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Servings 2
Calories 226 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

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
  • 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

Instructions
 

  • Combine water, fysh 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 of sesame oil, and ground black pepper. Set it aside.
  • Saute the kimchi in a Dutch oven or earthenware pot until it softens. 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!

Notes

Cooking Tips: 
  • 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, you may have set 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.
 
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bowlCalories: 226kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 9gFat: 11gSodium: 3042mgFiber: 15gSugar: 7g
Keyword kimchi jjigae, kimchi jjigae recipe
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