Homestyle Kimchi Jjigae 家常韩式泡菜煲

When I tasted my own kimchi jjigae for the first time, I thought "what is the difference between this and soon doo bu"? Both taste similar. Kimchi jjigae just belong to a bigger umbrella of jjigae variety - jjigae refers to a savory hearty Korean stew.

Traditionally soon doo bu is a spicy Korean stew cooked in a soup broth made with red pepper paste and red chili flakes and the main ingredient is soft tofu. Kimchi jjigae is a soup base made from kimchi, and a base so versatile layered with tofu, vegetables (e.g. napa cabbage, leeks), mushrooms, and seafood or meat.

There is nothing quite like coming home to a simmering pot of spicy stew in the cold winter months. The spice heat, and stew heat will instantly warm you up. Moreover, the kimchi base yields a subtly-sour soup that actually whets your appetite even more.

Cook a big pot of "stew" to last two meals - lunch and dinner. There are some tips I live by though, so that the vegetables (and meat) are not over-cooked (or cooked twice due to re-heating) by dinner time.

Homestyle Kimchi Jjigae 家常韩式泡菜煲
1-2 cups kimchi finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp gochujang
Napa cabbage, bok choy - use as much as you want or the pot can contain
Variety of mushrooms - beech, enoki shiitake mushrooms, divided use
Few slices of beef and pork; divided use
1 block of tofu, cubed; divided use
2-3 green onions, roughly sliced
1 fresh red chili, thinly sliced

Directions: Saute the kimchi, gochujang, garlic, water , then top with more water to simmer the soup base. Add napa cabbage, then mushrooms and cover to simmer till they are cooked. Top with bok choy (you do not need to mix into the stew), and cover the pot to simmer. Bok choy will be cooked in a less than five minutes - dish out the bok choy and set aside. Add in cubed tofu, pork at the top, cover the pot and allow it to simmer till the meat is just cooked. Garnish with green onions and fresh chili. Dish out the beef, and pork and half the portions of napa and mushrooms into serving bowls, top with bok choy, then ladle hot kimchi soup-broth over.

Note: Re-heat for next meal if there is kimchi base leftover. Turn on medium heat to re-heat the pot of stew. When simmering, add in fresh vegetables, any leftover tofu and meat then allow to come to simmer again. Serve for dinner.

There are other Korean side-dishes you can prepare at home such as Korean Spicy TofuKorean Spicy Broccoli, Korean Spicy Bok Choy.

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