I love the Korean national staple Kimchi and even more I adoreÂ Kimchi Jjigae,Â a Korean stew made with this delicious fermented cabbage. Â If you have never eaten Kimchi, it is something of an acquired taste. Â FaintlyÂ reminiscentÂ of German sauerkraut (only about 100 times better), Kimchi is made of fermenting cabbage with garlic, red chilli and salt. Â The longer you store it, the better it getsÂ apparently, and for making Kimchi Jjigae, the older, more fermented and ripe Kimchi is better than fresher, less intensely flavoured one. Â If your KimchiÂ is too young and not fermented enough, you can still make a good Kimchi Jjigae. Â It is advisable however, to add some more Korean chili paste and cook the stew for longer, so that the cabbage softens.
In addition to being highly addictive, KimchiÂ is regarded to be as one of the world’s healthiest foods (I doubt this is a scientifically founded conclusion, but anyway) as the lactobacilli it contains help with digestion, it is high in Vitamin A, B and C as well as other nutrients such as iron, calcium and beta-carotene and has been shown to be protective against cancer.
KimchiÂ is delicious enjoyed on its own. Â This is how it looks like when you order it at a Korean restaurant:
and this is Kimchi Jjigae, basically Kimchi-based stew:
When I walked through Soho recently, I found a pot of Kimchi in a Japanese supermarket (Arigato on Brewer Street) and decided to give this exquisitely comforting, spicy and wintery soup (very fitting for the London summer) a try. Â Against all odds, it turned out beautifully and was terribly easy to make. Â Also, it requires very little washing up, as all you need is one pot.
To create a full meal, serve Kimchi Jjigae with boiled rice, which nicely soaks up all the delicious juices and takes the edge of the spiciness.
Amount: serves 2 as a main or 4 as part of a meal
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
apart from the Kimchi, most ingredients are optional/ can beÂ substituted -Â apparentlyÂ there are as many recipes for Kimchi as there are for Spaghetti Bolognese or Borscht)
- 100 g pork belly or bacon
- 1 pot of Kimchi (e.g this Kimchi one Japan Centre)
- 2 pots of water
- 1 medium-sized onion
- 1 garlic clove
- chili flakes
- a couple of tea spoons of Korean chilli paste (gochujang ê³ ì¶”ìž¥)Â (I couldn’t get this so I used Asian Home Gourmet Kimchi Soup base)
- fresh tofu
- sesame oil
- enoki mushrooms
1. Chop onion and garlic into small pieces. Thinly slice bacon.
2. Heat the sesame oil on medium heat and sautee onions until soft (they should not get brown)
3. Add garlic and pork belly/bacon and leave on medium heat until pork belly/bacon is not pink anymore. Â Be careful not to burn the garlic
4. Then add one cup of Kimchi with all the juice and sautee for another 5 minutes.
5. Add 2 cups of water and bring to simmer.
6. Season with 2 tablespoons of mirin and – according to taste – 1-3 teaspoons of Korean chili paste and chili flakes (if you like it hot!)
7. Â Simmer with lid open until soup has concentrated, kimchi and pork belly have turn soft and everything has taken on the beautiful kimchi flavour. Â This should be for a minimum of 20 minutes, but the longer the better really. Â If stew gets too concentrated, add more water
8. In the meantime prepare the enoki mushrooms, cut the tofu into cubes and chop the coriander (I don’t think Koreans actually add coriander, but I liked the colour combination and it worked very well)
9. Â Add tofu and mushrooms and simmer for another 5 minutes.
10. Finally sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve piping hot, together with boiled rice.