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Kimchi jigae, the way they made it in kdramas (!)

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It’s 2am – I just finished watching a crazy good Korean drama, am staying up to wait for the recap of said drama, listening to a Korea-based (in English) radio channel, and writing a blog post for a classic Korean recipe.

I am NOT, repeat, NOT creepy. Ok, so, once I was rattling off all the kpop songs I knew to this AMERICAN guy who studied Korean and was in the Korean Student Association. He sort of gave me this…look, I don’t know, like I was a weirdo, an Asiaphile. …Yes, an Asian Asiaphile. Beats me.

Anyway, watching that much Korean TV at least does me some good: I learn a lot about Korean food. On this fake-celebrity-dating-show, every time a guest visits one of the couples’homes, they always, and I’m serious, always request the host to make either dukbokki or kimchi jigae. One reason is these things are quite easy & fast; the other is that these 2 seem to be classic Korean dishes: comfortable, spicy, familiar, and everyone likes it (if you don’t like it it’s your problem). So I watched them make it, and filled in the blanks myself. So, here you go, kimchi jigae like kpop idols would make it…maybe?

kimchi jigae

Kimchi jigae (kimchi stew)

Cooking time: 15 minutes  + 30 mins waiting


16 oz (1 medium jar) of kimchi

Medium piece of pork belly – I did a 5 inch long 1 inch thick piece; as much as you want, really. You either die of eating too much meat or you don’t. Or die of something else. So don’t hesitate!

Silken tofu – about 4 oz or less

Mushroom (optional)

1 tbs of doenjang/miso paste (optional – see note below)

1 stalk of spring onion

2 gloves of garlic (more garlic really doesn’t hurt…)

Sesame oil

Fish sauce/salt

Step 1

Heat up a 2 quart pot of water (water filled 2/3). In the meantime, slice the pork belly: if you have time to cook for a long time, slice it a bit thicker (save time on the slicing), an inch thick or more, if not, slice half an inch thin. Saute the pork with crushed garlic in sesame oil until the pork is slightly cooked. *Actually, last time I only roasted the pork to brown the outside; that works well too.

Step 2

When the water boils, put the pork, kimchi, & the white part of the spring onion in. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes (pork’s texture on the firmer side) or an hour if you have time (pork falling apart, real cool :D). Cut tofu in 1 inch cubes and put into the stew pot, simmer on low for another 10 minutes.

* Sometimes I add a tablespoon of miso – it adds a really interesting, rich layer of flavor, but sometimes I prefer the clearer broth where you can taste the pickle/fermented sour flavor of the kimchi very clearly. It reminds me of a similar pickled cabbage soup (canh dua chua) we have in Vietnam.

Step 3

Chop up the green part of the onion. Season the stew with fish sauce/salt to taste. Serve the stew in a bow or with rice, sprinkle the onion on top. Eat!


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