If there was ever a poster child for Korean comfort food (just look at my site banner above! ;)), this would be it.
Now that we are deep into fall and that much closer to winter, I’m craving a lot of soups and stews — whether it’s of the Korean (kimchi, dwenjang) or the Western (chowders, beef burgundy) varieties, I’ll take them all! I love nothing more than sitting in front of a steaming [usual communal] pot of gurgling witch’s brew and digging in with my fellow hungry compatriots.
Here is one of the simplest, most fulfilling Korean dishes I know — and like a good bolognese sauce, only gets better with age (just add a bit more water). Hopefully it will warm and spice up your soul as much as it does mine!
Kimchi Jjigae (serves 4)
– 2 or 3 cups of super ripe kimchi, cut up in small (about 2″-3″) pieces
– 1-2 large spoonfuls of gochujang (hot pepper paste), depending on your taste
– 2 or 3 slabs of uncured pork belly (samgyubsal), or about a cup of diced boneless pork tenderloin/chop –> pork is key in this jjigae!
– 1 large spoonful minced garlic
– half a block of tofu, cut into small 1″-2″ cubes
– 1 or 2 scallions
– water, about 4-5 cups (you can always add more)
– sesame oil (about a teaspoon for the pork, a drizzle for the end)
1. Using a heavy bottomed pot (or ceramic crock if you have one), warm up the sesame oil, saute pork and garlic over medium heat, taking care not to burn the garlic.
2. Put cut-up kimchi (with its juices) in the pot, saute with the pork until pink is gone (at this point, you can just take it out and enjoy with some tofu; but that’s another dish called dooboo kimchi ;)).
3. Add water in the pot, stir in the gochujang and ratchet up the heat to bring to a boil, partially covered, 15-20 minutes (longer the better).
4. Add tofu and a touch of sesame oil. Cook additional 10-15 minutes on lowered heat, partially covered. If the water level looks low, add some more and taste along the way.
5. Add the scallions right at the end. Bring to the table hot and gurgling. Enjoy with rice and lots and lots of cold water!