The first time I tasted the flavor of cooked kimchi and pork together was at my favorite (hole in the wall) Korean restaurant - almost 20 years ago (they are now closed). The dish was appropriately named Kimchi Pork, which was cooked in thickened spicy gravy - I craved this combination and ate it at least once a week, for 10 years – until they closed.
Since then, I have been searching for this dish and discovered that other Korean restaurants don’t have a dish called “kimchi pork” on their menu. This was baffling to me… How can something so simple, be so unavailable?
Out of curiosity I order a bowl of kimchi jjigae - the description read; pork, kimchi and tofu. When I took my first bite... I realized that this is my beloved kimchi pork in the form of a soup/stew. How could I have missed out on this gem all these years?
It was time to do some research and my first stop was to Hyosun Ro’s blog KoreanBapsang. Once I tried her recipe, I stopped my search. I found exactly what I was looking for - A simple, easy, satisfying – one pot meal.
Tips from Hyosun:
- Older (overripe) kimchi will give better flavor
- Use the rice water from the 3rd rinse or use anchovy broth (about 7 or 8 medium dry anchovies and 1 3-inch square dried kelp boiled in 3 cups of water for 10 minutes).
- If you don’t have a half cup of kimchi juice available, increase the water to 2 ½ cups.
- use pork belly or other pork meat with some fat.
After cooking and eating more bowls of kimchi jjigae than I would like to admit - I discovered…
- If you don’t have overripe kimchi – WAIT – the broth will taste flat, the older the better.
- If you don’t have enough kimchi juice – add extra Korean red pepper.
- If you have a flat flavored broth – add a splash or two of Korean soup soy sauce. Take a peek at Lindsey's Shin Noodle for a description of Korean Soup Soy Sauce.
- I have my green onions (scallions) cut small (in the pix) only because I had pre-cut the bunch for another dish - I would usually cut them into 2 inch lengths.
- Add more pork if you want it to be meatier
- Maangchi is the queen of u-tube Korean cooking and she adds hot pepper paste instead of red pepper flakes. This small difference will make a spicier and more full flavored broth.
Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew) adapted from Hyosun Ro
This recipe makes enough for two
¼ pound pork, cut into small pieces
1 tsp. garlic, minced
½ tsp. ginger, minced
1 Tbsp. Korean red pepper flakes
2 cups old kimchi
½ cup kimchi juice
2 cups rice water (2 ½ if not using kimchi juice)
Soft “silken”tofu – ½ block or 1 tube “Korean”
2 stalks green onions, sliced in 2” legnths
**Optional (this is what they added at the restaurant)
Zucchini, cut into half-moon shapes
Toss pork with minced ginger, garlic and red pepper.Drain kimchi (save juice) and cut into bite sized pieces.
Heat a medium sauce pot over med-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. oil and brown pork; add kimchi and cook for about 10 minutes or until pork and kimchi are tender.
When the kimchi and pork are tender; add kimchi juice and water; bring to a boil and let cook for another 10 min. **If you are adding zucchini and mushrooms; add it when you are adding the kimchi juice and water.
Add tofu and the green onions on top. Allow the tofu to cook in the broth for about 3 – 5 min. heat the tofu.