Cooking Traditional Korean Food with Seyoung Park: Dish #2
How to Make Kimchi Jjigae or Kimchi Stew

Kimchi jjigae is served along with side dishes. Photo by Alan Chan.

Kimchi stew is a staple of modern day Korean cuisine, and likely dates back to the same time that red peppers were introduced to the Korean peninsula. Stews are defined as combinations of meat, vegetables, herbs, and liquids that are cooked at a low temperature in a covered pot. Kimchi stew or kimchi jjigae as it is called in Korea, is made with kimchi, tofu, spring onions, and garlic. Usually, pork or seafood is included and it is cooked in water or sardine stock. This article is part of a series written by Home: Soil, Soul, Society’s Seyoung Park. In the series, Park shares recipes and instructions for cooking traditional Korean dishes. The goal is to guide and educate blog readers, cooking enthusiasts, and anyone at home trying to make a particular Korean dish. Park is a longtime culinarian and the operator of the Mokpo restaurant Home: Soil, Soul, Society. One of her goals is to spread food culture to foreigners who might be unfamiliar with traditional Korean cuisine. Many of her recipes blend traditional Korean influences with vegan and organic-centered food philosophy. Because of her influences, Park has a unique take on each of these dishes, and she has decided to share the way she cooks them with the public. The second recipe that Park will teach how to cook is kimchi jjigae, or kimchi stew.


Kimchi Jjigae

(Servings 2) 



-2 cups packed bite size kimchi fully fermented

-4 ounces fresh pork belly or other pork meat with some fat or other protein choice

-1 to 3 teaspoons gochu garu (Korean red chili pepper flakes) adjust to taste or omit

-1 teaspoon minced garlic

-1 tablespoon cooking oil

-1/2 cup juice from kimchi if available

-6 ounces tofu

-2 scallions

-salt (or a little bit of soup soy sauce or regular soy sauce) and pepper to taste




* First, cut the kimchi into bite size pieces.


* Second, cut the meat into bite sizes. Slice the tofu (about 1/2-inch thick), and roughly chop the scallions.


* Third, heat a small to medium pot with 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the kimchi, pork, red pepper flakes and garlic and cook over medium high heat until the kimchi is softened and the pork cooks through, about 5 to 7 minutes.


* Fourth, add the kimchi juice and about 2 to 2.5 cups of water (or broth). Bring it to a boil, and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to medium, and boil, covered, for about 15 minutes. You can add more water if necessary.


* Fifth, drop the tofu and scallions in. Salt (or soup or regular soy sauce) and pepper to taste. (Salt is usually not necessary, unless kimchi was lightly seasoned or kimchi juice is not available.) Boil until the tofu is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve while bubbling over from the heat.


Tuna Kimchi Jjigae


* To make kimchi jjigae with no meat, follow the same steps leaving out the pork. Add one can of tuna with oil when adding the kimchi juice and water and boil for 10 – 15 minutes. You can add onion slices at this point if desired. Follow the rest of the recipe above. 



Use old, sour kimchi.

Cook the kimchi and pork together before adding the liquid. This step develops extra flavor.

Use the water used to rinse rice (* my secret is using ‘ssalddeumul, 쌀뜨물’) as the stew base. It’s commonly used for Korean stews. Use the water from the second or third round of rinsing. The rice water thickens the broth slightly and enhance the flavor.

Anchovy broth, chicken broth, milky bone broth or vegetable broth will be also great as a soup base.

Use the juice from the kimchi if available. It will add lots of flavor to the broth.


The recipe and instructions in this article were created by Seyoung Park. Seyoung Park can be found on Instagram and Facebook. Her restaurant Home: Soil, Soul, Society is also open to visitors. 

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