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Kimchi Jjigae – Kimchi Stew

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. 

A single serving of kimchi jjigae topped with scallions.


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.


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.


  • 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.


If you love this recipe, we hope you will try one of tasty favorites!  


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 staples from my pantry instead. 

Can I sweeten the jjigae to balance the heat?

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.

Can I make this recipe vegetarian? Vegan?

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. 

Why is my broth coming out flat?

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!


A single serving of kimchi jjigae topped with scallions.

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.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Servings 2
Calories 226 kcal



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


  • 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.
  • 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!


  • 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.


Serving: 1bowlCalories: 226kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 9gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 4.1gSodium: 3041.8mgPotassium: 483mgFiber: 15.1gSugar: 6.6gVitamin A: 28IUVitamin C: 12.2mgCalcium: 63.8mgIron: 1.4mg
Keyword kimchi jjigae, kimchi jjigae recipe
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