Little things make me so happy! I was in Orchard Road recently and impulse bought some kimchi from Isetan basement at Shaw Center. The sales lady managed to talk me into upsizing my kimchi purchase and she threw in an extra bag of kimchi “juice”. She went into excruciating detail about how to stew meat in the juice (so sweet of her though) while my mind already jumped straight to “ok, google kimchi jigae”!
I’ve always been impressed by the quality of the kimchi that pop up store in Isetan; I’m fervently praying that Isetan does not go under like Robinsons did. This year I decided that I would support local brick and mortar stores in this economically challenging year. Of course that means that I get to meander around the shops more…what a great excuse! 😉
I do miss travel a lot. I miss the frisson of excitement while planning itineraries and packing, and the different tastes, smells and cultures of the places I land in. Last year I remember I had a super quick business trip to Korea, but I got to visit the supermarket and came back with the best tasting traditional doenjang ever. I froze it so that I could thaw out portions whenever I felt like having Korean stews and it’s probably the most precious condiment I have in the fridge at the moment until I get to fly back to Korea again.
Anyway, just reading about doenjang which is a fermented bean paste – the different ways of preparing the fermented beans. I suspect the traditional slow fermentation method which only uses soybeans and brine would result in a preparation that is lower in carb count than the modern faster method that adds wheat to speed up the fermentation process. Anyway I figured the next time I buy doenjang I will ask for hansik doenjang 한식된장 which is the traditional version.
In kimchi jigae, while the kimchi is the key note of the dish, the meat remains a star. I usually use pork belly because there is a certain unctuous feel of the melt in the mouth fatty pork pieces that is carried by the spicy-sour kimchi flavour. The weather here is turned rainy and the temperatures have dropped a smidgen from the usual sultry weather we are used to in Singapore. So a hot comforting stew like kimchi jigae hits all the right spots.
- 600g pork belly, cut into 1 inch thick chunks
- 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1 block pressed tofu, cut into large chunks
- 1 cup kimchi juice
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup kimchi cabbage pieces
- 1 tbsp doenjang
- 1 tbsp gochujang
- 1 tsp sugar substitute
- 1 tsp salt (to taste if you are using salted chicken stock)
- 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp sping onions, chopped (optional)
- Add the pork, onions, garlic, kimchi and juice, chicken stock, doenjang paste, gochujang paste, salt and sugar in a stew pot and simmer for 40-45 minutes on a stovetop. If using an instant pot, you can cook under high pressure for 30 minutes.
- Add the tofu and sesame oil to the stew and simmer another 5 minutes.
- Top with spring onions ans serve hot with cauliflower rice.