I’m probably still living in the stone age because…I just started watching Season 1 of Desperate Housewives.
I get easily addicted to american TV series (very specific, i know) and I can literally watch episode after episode without ever feeling bored. Hence, the recent release of 24 every 1 week is just an absolute torture. I was in a dilemma because I had to struggle between so many things I like doing – watching Desperate Housewives, doing another string art project and cooking kimchi jjigae for dinner. And through the past many months, I’ve also been struggling with another dilemma – to post or not to post (about kimchi jigae) because…i’ve never really been able to take a good picture of this hot, boiling, cauldron of ultimate bliss *ahhhh* – and only aspiring bloggers and terrible photographers like me can understand.
I used to follow a recipe found online but over the multiple times I’ve made this dish, I’ve tweaked it quite a bit. Most kimchi jjigae recipes online will recommend that you use pork belly but since I’ve started getting the meat from this korean butcher near my house, he recommended that I use pork shoulder instead. I’ve tried both versions (pork belly and pork shoulder) and I must say that I love the pork shoulder version so much better! It’s much less fattening and will definitely be a great hit for all the meat lovers out there because you can eat way more without feeling so much guilt :P
The hardest part, but yet most essential part of the recipe, is actually extracting the kimchi juice. There usually isn’t a lot of juice from the kimchi in the first place and if you buy the kimchi in huge tubs, you might want to overturn the tub of kimchi the night before so that all the juice flows the other way. It takes quite a bit to extract 1 cup of kimchi juice so do buy extra kimchi to ensure you have enough. I just cannot emphasize enough on how essential the kimchi juice is.
But besides that, having kimchi jjigae on a rainy day is just to die for. I can’t stop salivating just thinking about it now.
Kimchi Jjigae Recipe
Feeds 7 hungry people
1 cup kimchi juice
2.5 tbsp mirin
4 tsp gochujang (korean chili paste) or more to taste
4 tsp miso
5 tsp light soy sauce
1kg pork shoulder, sliced very thin and sliced to about 4cm in width
1 small onion, diced
3 cups kimchi
8 cloves of garlic minced
4 cups of water
600g silken tofu sliced into 3cm cubes
1. In a bowl, mix together the kimchi juice, mirin, gochujang, miso and light soy sauce. Stir until smooth (you can add this individually to the pot directly after adding the water but I find this much easier so I don’t have to worry that there will be clumps. Its difficult to stir vigorously after you’ve added the delicate tofu)
2. On high heat, heat a large pot (preferable an enameled cast iron pot) until hot. Breaking up the pork first so that they don’t stick together, add in the pork shoulder and the onions. Fry until most of the pork has cooked then add in the kimchi and garlic. Continue stirring until it is very fragrant and the pork looks cooked.
3. Add the water into the pot followed by the mixture in step 1. Stir everything to combine and bring to a boil. Taste and add more gochujang for more spice and soy sauce for more taste. Ensure that at this stage, everything is well combined.
4. Add the tofu and carefully stir the tofu into the mixture without breaking up the tofu. To do this, I would usually put my ladle deep into the pot and stir the bottom, allowing the tofu to cook in the soup without breaking apart. Bring to a boil, lower down the flame and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until tofu is cooked and kimchi is tender. If not serving immediately, turn on the fire and bring to boil again to heat up just before serving.
Serve with a bowl of white rice.
My younger sister likes hers with eggs – reminds me of soft tofu soup instead! It changes the taste of the kimchi jigae quite a bit so after cooking the kimchi jigae, I would pour some of the soup into a small pot and bring it to a simmer, crack an egg and stir it in, breaking the yolk, and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes just until the egg is cooked.