Kimchi Jigae

  
Ok I admit it. I haven’t gotten over my Korean food cravings yet. I’m embarrassed to say that I’m enamoured of all things Korean at the moment…and still unpacking all those cosmetics I splurged on in Seoul. But I kid you not, 1 week of using these facial products and I can see and feel visible changes to my skin. Of course, I confess that before this, I was a simple face wash and moisturizer girl so all this stuff is destined to show definite differences anyway. I felt like a true bumpkin when I googled Korean facial care and discovered that it is a 10-12 step daily process! How I’ve survived in the past I have no idea. My family is less than impressed however, because last week I made kid#1 wait at the bus stop for me for 1/2 hour because I had just put on my snail mask and refused to walk out of the house with it on still. It was dark, ok, and I didn’t want to scare the neighbors.

  
Which of these things is not like the other? K-cosmetics aficionados will be able to pick out the one Japanese item in the middle of this stash.

I never realized how much of a multimillion dollar industry it was. Hubs and I were completely lost when we stood in the middle of Lotte Duty Free shop (“stunned like vegetable”) surrounded by rampaging PRCs. It was telling that all the Korean shop assistants could speak fluent Mandarin (not English), which left us bananas (yellow on the outside and white on the inside) rather lost. We ended up whatsapping our cell group for advice which was really helpful (these people have hidden depths). Suffice it to say that half my bag contained cosmetics on the trip back.

Anyway in the midst of this frivolity I haven’t lost sight of what matters to me most, which is why I was mulling over (and craving) Korean food. So here’s the Kimchi Jigae (stew) recipe. It’s not new and I’ve been making it for about a decade now, but I don’t think I will ever get tired of it. Koreans will tell you how good kimchi is for you; I kind of think that if your stomach lining can withstand kimchi, you are as healthy as a horse anyway and nothing can kill you. I always prefer to have tofu in my Jigae (personal preference as I think it lightens up this rather intense stew). Also for people like me who are carb nazis, just beware that the doenjang (fermented bean paste) and the gochujang (chilli paste) that is used in these stews do contain a substantial amount of carbs (about 9g per tbsp). So you either eat less of the stew or cut carbs in other portions of your meal.

 
Lower left: pork belly, tofu and kimchi; lower right: doenjang (brown box) and gochujang (red box) 

Kimchi Jigae

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

Soup stock

  • 4 cups of water
  • 8-10 dried ikan bilis (anchovies)
  • 3 pieces of kelp
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce

Stew

  • 150 g pork belly; cut into cubes
  • 100g of cabbage kimchi 
  • 3 – 4 tbsp if kimchi brine
  • 1 tbsp doenjang fermented bean paste 
  • 1/2 tbsp gochujang chilli paste
  • 1 tsp sugar substitute
  • 1 block of silken soft tofu
  • 1 sprig of spring onion, chopped into small circles

Method

  1. Bring the water to boil in a pot. Add kelp, anchovies, onions, garlic, salt, peppercorns and fish sauce and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Drain and discard the solids. 
  3. Reheat stock and add the kimchi, kimchi brine and pork and simmer for another 20 minutes. Add the doenjang, gochujang and sugar substitute and boil for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tofu that has been cut into blocks, simmer for a minute then serve hot. 
  5. Garnish with spring onions and serve with a side of cauliflower “rice” or shirataki noodles.

  

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