Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew)
Featured on Episode 3 – The Jeju Chronicles
Serves 4 to 6
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 pound pork belly, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 cups coarsely chopped kimchi with a bit of its liquid (use the most pungent, sour kimchi available for best flavor)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce or dashida
- 1 slice American cheese (optional)
- 5 scallions, thinly sliced
- About ¼ cup thinly sliced gim for garnish
JJigae is the Korean word for stew and let me tell you—I’m the jjigae lady. I love to make jjigaes and kimchi jjigae is one of the easiest to make (I can’t imagine it’s a coincidence that it’s one of the most regularly consumed dishes in all of Korea). It’s the absolute best way to use up your oldest, most sour kimchi, an example of the Korean tendency to be extremely resourceful and to never throw anything away. In Seoul we went to a cool barbecue restaurant called Saemaul Shikdang that’s known for its “7-minute Jjigae,” which takes exactly 7 minutes to prepare. I cook mine a bit longer, but I think the flavor is still pretty impressive.
Heat the sesame oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pork belly, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring now and then, until rendered, browned, and crispy, about 10 minutes.
Add the onion and kimchi and stir to combine. Add enough water to nearly cover the pork mixture (5 or 6 cups), cover, and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer until the onion and kimchi are softened and the soup is quite thick, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the fish sauce (or dashida), American cheese (if using), and scallions. If it’s too thick for your liking, thin the stew with water. Cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes to combine the flavors. Serve steaming hot sprinkled with gim.
Note: Gim is pressed and toasted sheets of laver seaweed. Japanese nori makes a good substitute.