Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kimchi! ...dedicated to Susanne, for being so patient...

You open the fridge and you get a whiff... Mmm...fermented cabbage...

That's right.  You bought a jar of kimchi last month and now it's on the brink of turning sour.  All the other food in your fridge is starting to taste like kimchi too, so you have to use it up.  By now the cabbage is probably turning clear which means that it's the perfect time to make Kimchi Jjigae.  This is a delicious, spicy Korean stew that is typically made with pork belly, but of course the version I made is vegan.

My sister-in-law is Korean and her dad owns a restaurant in Orange County.  Recently, he sent down a big jar of his house-made kimchi with her for The Boy and I.  Let me tell you, I have never tasted better kimchi than the stuff he whips up at his restaurant.  Holy Moly.  Anyway, I've been dying to make kimchi jjigae for months now, but I have to be honest.  I'm totally intimidated by Korean cooking!  It's completely different from anything I've ever done so I was sure I was going to completely screw it up.  So I texted my sister-in-law for her recipe, and I decided to use what she gave me mixed with a few other goodies, and this is what I came up with:

Vegan Kimchi Jjigae
Serves 4

sesame oil, 2 Tbsp, plus a little extra for garnish
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 an onion, sliced into half moons, about 1/2 inch thick
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 a small head of cabbage, chopped
2 1/2 cups kimchi, coarsely chopped
kimchi juices
1 tsp brown rice syrup (or more, to taste)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin or sake
1 package tofu, cubed
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Heat sesame oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute 1 minute.  Add onion and saute 3 to 4 minutes.  Add carrots, cabbage, kimchi and kimchi juices and stir to combine.  (If there's not a lot of kimchi juice in the jar, squeeze the kimchi to get more juices out.)  Add enough water to just cover kimchi mixture.  Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  Add syrup, soy sauce, mirin and tofu and simmer 5 minutes longer.  Ladle soup into bowls, drizzle with a little sesame oil and top with green onions.  Serve piping hot with a side of rice.

Tip:  If you really like it spicy, add red chili flakes, red chili paste, jalapeño peppers or spicy green chilies.

Macro Eaters:  If you like to include fish in your diet every now and then, try adding a few chunks of mild, white fish to the broth for added flavor and texture.  You'll want to add it during the last 15 minutes of cooking so that it doesn't cook too long and turn to rubber.


  1. I am so excited to try this out! LOOKS DELICIOUS!! And yes, my Kimchee is starting to sound like the one that you have described. I have to use it up quick. THANK YOU MY FRIEND! xxooxx

  2. Sounds terrific, Emily, I think your Hapa-ness us turning Korean! :-)

  3. I want to try this to Emily! Hey, do you use toasted sesame oil?

  4. Yes, I love the flavor of toasted sesame oil, mmm... :)