Kimchi is a great accompaniment to rice, soup, and stir fry dishes. After a jar (or tub) has been kept for several weeks however, it starts to get sour. That can also be delicious as it is, but many would use it only for cooking after it starts getting sour. The flavor on its own is very intense, but in cooking, a deep flavor is added to soups, pancakes, and stir fried dishes.
Kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae 김치찌개) is one of my favorite things to eat. Sour kimchi and kimchi brine impart a deep base flavor to the soup, and chile powder and gochujang add a nice spicy bite. This stew is a perfect meal with rice. Best yet, the dish can consist of pantry ingredients and “this and that” that might be around the fridge. Pork, fish, and even canned tuna are delicious in this soup, and soft tofu adds a nice texture.
I had a jar of kimchi in the fridge for about a month, and the flavors were getting strong. It was time to assemble a nice stew.
I love cooking in clay, and I have enjoyed my Korean black clay pots (ttukbaegi 뚝배기) for some years now. These pots can be found at Philadelphia Korean markets (Hmart, Saehan, Ko Ba Woo) and can be comfortably used on top of a gas ranges and even electric tops, and they really hold onto heat. I think this dish is best customized based on size of pot, items available, and personal preference. Today this is what I had:
- 1/3 lb coarsely chopped pork belly
- 1/2 medium sized white onion, sliced
- 1 cup coarsely chopped sour kimchi and 1/3rd cup juice
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 Tbsp+ Korean chile flakes (gochugaru)
- 1/2 block of tofu
- 1 Tbsp doenjang
- 1 Tbsp gochujang
- pinch sugar (if necessary), salt (if necessary), vinegar (if necessary)
- green onions, chopped
This is such a forgiving stew that you can put these items in nearly any order and the outcome should be good. The egg should be last though, unless you want it hard cooked.
I started with some oil in the bowl, and frying the onions, garlic, and pork belly. Add in the chopped kimchi and kimchi juice. Add some stock. I used a basic Korean-style anchovy, kelp, and radish stock as suggested by Maangchi. Maangchi is a pretty well-known food celebrity at this point, but if you are not familiar with her and common home-style dishes like kimchi jjigae, she has some terrific videos for making most things. Check out her page on kimchi jjigae for reference.
I hope you try this very simple and delectable dish!