Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae is one of the variations of the spicy soft tofu stew (순두부 찌게 Soondubu Jjigae) that I wrote about some time ago. I know that my original recipe may taste a bit bland to some people and if that’s the case for you, you really have to try this version with kimchi and beef. As with many things, adding kimchi makes the jjigae explode with flavors that are just beyond words. How anyone can live without kimchi, I’ll never know…
However, if you cannot get kimchi or feel that it is too strong, sauerkraut is a good substitute for kimchi. It does not have all the full complex flavors of the garlic and the fermented fish sauces but it does provide the sourness similar to that of kimchi. At one of our family reunions several years ago–we did not have access to a Korean grocery store– and my sis #3 made a pseudo kimchi jjigae by using sauerkraut, pork, garlic and tons of red chili pepper and it was actually really good.
I used the gochu yangnyum (chili sauce) that I already made before so it was really simple. I have to confess that I still had the leftover yangnyum from the time I made it for my post in MAY! I thought it would have spoiled by now but surprisingly it was still good! Oh, how I love my sub-zero fridge…if it wasn’t for my sub-zero fridge, I’m quite sure the yangnyum would not be useable by now. A Sub-zero fridge really keeps everything fresh for a much longer period. Fruits and vegetables also don’t get shriveled up for at least a couple weeks -which I love.
- 1 pack (11 oz) of extra soft tofu (순두부 Soondubu)
- 1/2 C water
- 1 T gochu yangnyum (chili sauce – see original soondubu jjigae post for recipe)
- 2- 3 oz beef (stew meat) or pork(belly), cubed – optional
- 4 oz kimchi (about 1/2 C), roughly chopped
- 1 egg (optional)
Once you have the gochu yangnyum (chili sauce) already made, it really is very simple to make.
1. Measure about 1/2 C of well fermented kimchi (a handful) and chop it roughly into small pieces or slice into thin strips. It’s always best to use fully fermented, ripe kimchi when it’s used for cooking. When the kimchi is fully fermented, the smell is more pungent but the taste is smoother than when it’s freshly made. A ripe kimchi is slightly sour but has a zing to it that you just cannot taste in any other dish. The sourness will increase as the fermentation process continues and it’s just a matter of personal taste how sour you want your kimchi to be.
2. Cut up beef or pork into small cubes. The amount of meat doesn’t have to be exact. Use either a similar amount or less of meat when compared to the amount of kimchi. In my opinion, pork goes better with kimchi. There is just something about pork that makes kimchi taste 10 times better. And so if you like pork, by all means use pork! I used beef here because my hubby is allergic to pork…sigh..
3. Add the kimchi and the meat to your hot pot and cook over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes until meat is slightly cooked.
4. Add 1/2 C water and tofu. Break up the tofu into smaller pieces so the tofu gets seasoned evenly. Add 1 T gochu yangnyum and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary. When kimchi is added, you will most likely not need any additional soy sauce or salt or saewoojeot because kimchi is already quite salty.
If you like eggs, crack an egg and add it to the pot when you are ready to eat. You can break up the egg if you like or leave it whole. If you like it fully cooked, let it cook fully on the stove. If you like your eggs to be soft in the middle, take the jjigae off the heat as soon as you add the egg and let it cook slowly in the residual heat.
So that’s how you make kimchi soondubu jjigae! Serve it with some rice, some less spicy, savory jeons or meat dishes like bulgogi. Add a refreshing salad or fresh vegetable dish and it should be a very healthy and tummy warming meal.