Noodles in Black Bean Sauce (간짜장면 Kaan Jajangmyeon)

Noodles with Black Bean Sauce (짜장면 Jjajang Myeon)
Noodles with Black Bean Sauce (짜장면 Jjajangmyeon) jajangmyeon
Noodles with Black Bean Sauce (간짜장면 Kaan Jajangmyeon)

In almost every Korean drama, you will see characters devour this black sauce noodle dish-ending with black sauce all around their mouths. And it’s almost always in an office setting or at home, where these are delivered in a steel or plastic box. Jajangmyeon (짜장면) or JJajangmyeon is actually a Chinese dish, introduced in 1905 by a Chinese chef in Incheon. Since then, it has fully become part of the Korean culture, invoking all sorts of memories for many Koreans young and old. There’s even a saying among Koreans about how a move to a new home is not complete unless you order Jajangmyeon at the end of a long moving day. For every Korean neighborhood, there’s always a Chinese restaurant nearby and delivery is a must.

Few days ago, in one of my TV favorite show – “Dad, where are you going?”(아빠 어디가? Appa Uh-diga?)- I watched Jjajangmyeon being delivered to a rice field!!? Even the dads were surprised to see the food when it came. Now, I call that service! In many ways, Jjajangmyeon is equivalent to America’s Pizza.

I have been making home made Jajangmyeon since 91′ after I got married (over 20 years?!) at the request of my husband. My recipe has evolved quite a bit over the years and I have to say I’m quite happy with this one. When I gave it to my daughter for tasting, she happily chanted “Your Jajangmyeon tastes better than the restaurant version!”. And the best part is, there is no MSG!

Couple things to note about different kinds of Jajangmyeons –

  • 간짜장면 Kaan Jajangmyeon – more intense flavor because the sauce is condensed (just black bean paste and vegetables, little water) also more expensive
  • 짜장면 Jajangmyeon – water or broth added to Kaan Jajang so it’s milder in flavor
  • 삼선간짜장면 Samseon Kaan Jajangmyeon – ‘sam’ means 3 and ‘seon’ means taste. Traditionally, it contains 3 kinds of seafood like squid, sea cucumber and shrimp in addition to pork and veggies.
  • 사천짜장면 Sahcheon Jajangmyeon – Sahcheon (사천) means Szechuan. as with many things Szechuan, it had added spiciness

The version I’m making here is Kaan Jajang. You can easily make regular Jajangmyeon by adding more water or broth.


Servings: 3                    Cooking Time:  35 min                           Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients for Kaan Jajangmyeon

  • 1/2 C Chinese black bean paste (춘장 chunjang/choonjang)
  • 1/2 C or 3 fresh, dried or fresh shitake mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 3 oz (80g) pork loin, cut into cubes
  • 1 medium size onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 C cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 C zucchini, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped (optional)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, julienned (as garnish)
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 C water
  • 1/2 C + 3 T vegetable oil
  • 1 pack of fresh noodles for jajangmyeon or kal guksu

In Korea, this Jinmi Chunjang (진미 춘장) is the standard black bean paste to use for Jajangmyeon. They used to have MSG in it but not any more so that’s a good thing. :)

Jinmi 춘장 Choonjang (Chinese Black Bean Paste)
Jinmi 춘장 Choonjang (Chinese Black Bean Paste)



  1. Prepare ingredients below:
Vegetables and pork for jjajang
Vegetables and pork for jjajang

*See the lovely yellow carrot?! The pretty carrot is from my farm – we grew some colored carrots this summer and I decided to add the carrot for additional flavor. Carrot is totally optional but is a great way to hide additional nutrition for kids. I loved these carrots so much, I decided to take a picture –

colored carrots from our farm
colored carrots from our farm-more beta carotene than regular carrot

2. Chop all vegetables into small cubes.

Chopped vegetables for Jjajang Myeon
Chopped vegetables for Jjajang Myeon

3. In a non-stick frying pan, add equal amount of chunjang and oil to pan on medium/medium low heat. Should be bubbling but not burning. Stirring often, cook for 7 min.

stir frying jjajang in oil
stir frying jajang (black bean paste) in oil

Lot of oil will be leftover after stir frying the paste.

Jjajang sauteed in oil
Jjajang sauteed in oil (after 7 min of cooking)

4. WHILE the choonjang is cooking, in ANOTHER pan, add 2 T oil to pan on medium heat. Sauté just onions and cabbages for 10 min or more until onions become translucent. This will make your sauce taste sweeter!

stir frying onions and cabbages
cooked onions and cabbages

5.  Remove chunjang from pan. It should be easy to bunch up the cooked chunjang and remove from oil. Like so-

chunjang cooked in oil
chunjang cooked in oil

6. Discard the leftover oil in pan.

7. Remove onions and cabbages from pan and set aside. Sauté pork on med-high heat for 2-3 min in the same pan.

8. Once pork is cooked, return onions, cabbages to pan. Add 1 T oil and remaining vegetables. Sauté all ingredients on med-high heat for 5 – 7 min. Veggies should still be slightly crunchy.

9. Add the cooked chunjang paste to pan (step 8) and stir everything, making sure the paste coats the ingredients evenly.

Jjajang sauce with vegetables
Jajang sauce with vegetables for jajangmyeon

10. Stir fry for 2 min. Add 1 C water and 1 T sugar. Cook until the sauce is reduced to half. Reduce further for more condensed flavor.

11. Fresh noodles (국수 guksu) are best for Jajangmyeon. If you can buy one’s that says “짜장면 국수”, it should work fine. Believe it or not, I could not find it at my local market. Probably because not many Koreans make Jajangmyeon at home in Korea. I bought 칼국수 (Kalguksu/Kalgooksoo) and that worked fine. Just cook the noodles in boiling water for 7-10 min (based on package directions) and rinse in cold water.

fresh Korean noodle package
fresh Korean noodle package (생 칼국수 saeng kalgooksoo)

12. Sauce is now ready!

KaanJjajangmyeon sauce
Kaan Jjajangmyeon sauce (간짜장)

Just add noodles or rice to a bowl and top with this amazingly yummy Kaanjajang sauce!

Jjajang Bap (짜장밥) - Rice with Black Bean Sauce
Jajang Bap (짜장밥) – Rice with Black Bean Sauce


  • How to make Jajangmyeon/Jjajang myeon? – In step 8, instead of reducing the sauce, just add 1 T corn starch mixed with 1/4 C water to the sauce and stir. The jajang sauce should thicken up and there you go!
  • Choonjang(춘장) and Jajang(짜장) are used interchangeably when referring to the black bean paste. Sometimes you may find 볶음짜장(bokkeum jajang) which means it’s already been fried in oil which means you can skip step 3.
  • Meat substitutions – use beef or chicken instead of pork and it will still taste great!
  • For richer sauce, use chicken broth instead of water. Watch out for saltiness though since chicken broth already has quite a bit of sodium. Use low sodium chicken broth or maybe half broth and half water.

Know your Pork Cut!!

Korean pork cuts diagram by JinJoo Lee (

Pork is probably the most popular meat in Korea. Partly because it’s much more affordable than beef but also because the fatty flavor of pork really goes well with many Korean seasonings and condiments, especially Kimchi. Adding pork to Kimchi Jjigae really transforms it into a very hearty, flavorful stew.

When compared to beef, Pork cuts are simpler – 22 pork cuts vs 100+ beef cuts! And as far as the primal cuts go, there is almost a one-to-one correlation between Korean cuts and US cuts. But again, Korean pork cuts are further divided into more detailed smaller cuts.

First, here’s the US pork cut diagram from

North American Pork Cut Diagram
North American Pork Cuts

And below is a diagram that shows all the different Korean Pork cuts within each US primal pork cut. Believe it or not, I drew this by hand!!! I just could not find one that properly showed all the different cuts in the right location so after searching the internet for many hours, I decided I would spend even more hours to draw the Korean pork diagram myself…why I do these things, I don’t know.. :)

Korean pork cuts diagram by JinJoo Lee (
Korean pork cuts diagram by JinJoo Lee (

Now, let’s go over each of the 22 Korean cuts of pork along with applicable US cuts.

Primal Cut Korean US
Tenderloin (Ahnshim 안심) 1. Ahnshim sal(안심살) Tenderloin
Loin (Deungshim 등심) 2. Deungshim sal(등심살) Boneless loin
3. Al deungshim sal (알등심살) Boneless loin (center loin, closer to spine)
4. Deungshim dut sal or Gabrit saal(등심덧살, 가브릿살) Blade end loin (front top loin)
Butt/Boston Butt (Mokshim목심) 5. Mokshim sal (목심살) Butt
Picnic, Shoulder (Apdari 앞다리) 6. Apdari sal (앞다리살) Boneless picnic (shoulder)
7. Apsahtae saal (앞사태살) Boneless picnic (more leg than shoulder)
8. Hangjeong sal (항정살) Neck (part picnic, part butt)
Leg, ham (Dwitdari뒷다리) 9. Bolggi sal (볼기살) Butt end of ham
10. Sulkit sal (설깃살) Center part of ham (middle)
11.Dogani sal(도가니살) Center part of ham (near loin, belly)
12. Hongdukkae sal(홍두깨살) Center part of ham (near tail end)
13. Boseop sal (보섭살) Rump
14. Dwitsahtae sal(뒷사태살) Shank end of ham
Belly (Samgyeop sal 삼겹살) 15. Samgyeop sal(삼겹살) Belly meat from rib #5,6 to end of side, ending before hind leg
16. Galmaeggi sal(갈매기살) Flap meat
17. Deung kalbi sal(등갈비살) Baby back ribs (from rib #5 to end)
18. Tosi sal(토시살) End part of flap meat, near butt end
19.  Ohdolsamgyeop sal(오돌삼겹살) Rib tips (from rib #5 to end)
Ribs (Kalbi 갈비) 20. Kalbi (갈비) Front ribs (#1-#5)
21. Kalbi sal (갈비살) Boneless rib meat (#1-#5)
22. Maguri (마구리) Rib tips (#1-#5)
Jowl (Bolsal 볼살) 23. Bolsal (볼살) Cheek/Jowl

Note that the cuts are not always an exact match.

  • 24. Jok bal(족발) usually includes bottom part of the hock but not all. The upper part of the hock is also included in Sahtae(사태).

Here are some additional tid bits that’s worth mentioning:

  • 16. Galmaeggi sal(갈매기살) – This is Flap meat taken from the concave part of the spareribs and Saint Louis ribs. In the US, it is usually trimmed off from the ribs and is either ground up for sausage meat or chefs just eat it as snack(aka Chef’s bonus). Koreans consider this cut a delicacy and restaurants advertise this cut as their featured menu. Because this is a muscle near the diaphragm, it can get exposed to the pig’s innards and can be contaminated. Careful cleaning and preparation is important when eating this cut.
  • 18. Tosi sal(토시살) – This cut is separated from Galmaeggi sal and is so small (only about 3 oz per pig) that it’s often sold as part of Galmaeggi sal. Some people love the taste of Tosi sal because of it has more intense flavor and chewy texture than Galmaeggi sal.

Finally, here is a list of which cuts work best for each cooking method:

Soups(국 Guk or 탕 Tang)

  • shoulder, picnic(apdari sal, apsahtae sal)
  • center cut of ham(seolkit sal, dogani sal)
  • rib tips(maguri)

Stew/Hotpot (찌게 Jjigae/전골 Jeongol)

  • center cut of ham(dogani sal)
  • butt(mokshim sal)

Grilling (구이 Gui)

Koreans are masters at grilling all kinds of tough, chewy meat by slicing them thinly against the grain.

  • basically all cuts except the Loin area are popular for grilling. Most popular are slices from the Belly(samgyeop sal) and Tenderloin(ahnshim sal).

marinated bulgogi recommended:

  • loin(deungshim sal)
  • butt(mokshim sal)
  • butt end of ham(bolggi sal)
  • rump(boseop sal)
  • leg of ham(dwitsahtae sal)

Braised (Jjim 찜, Jorim 조림)

  • tenderloin(ahnshim sal)
  • picnic(apdari sal)
  • rump, leg, butt end of ham(boseop sal, dwitsahtae sal, bolggi sal)
  • baby back ribs(deungkalbi sal)

Boiled Meat (Suyuk 수육, Pyeonyuk 편육)

  • butt(mokshim sal)
  • leg of ham(dwitsahtae sal)
  • belly(samgyeop sal)
  • rib tips(ohdolsamgyeop sal)

Sweet and Sour pork (Tangsuyuk 탕수육)

  • tenderloin(ahnshim sal)
  • loin(deungshim)
  • center cut of ham(seolkit sal, dogani sal)

** Special appreciation to Mr.Grygus at for granting me permission to use his chart and cut information. His site has some great information about the various cuts.

** also was a great resource for understanding how exactly the ribs and belly parts were cut.

Hope this was helpful!!! Hope you will get to enjoy some great samgyeop sal BBQ very soon!

Sweet and Spicy Pork BBQ (돼지 불고기 Dweji Bulgogi)

pork bulgogi
daeji bulgogi from
pork bulgogi

Spicy, savory, sweet, gingery and mouthwatering…That is the best way I can describe the taste of Pork Bulgogi. For some reason, we did not have this very often at home when I was growing up. The first time I tasted Daeji Bulgogi/Dwaeji Bulgogi (돼지 불고기) was at my friend’s house when I was in 4th or 5th grade and I thought it was absolutely delicious. But it was also very very spicy! My friend’s mom cooked it right at the table on an electric grill for a group of us. It was really yummy but so spicy hot that I thought my lips and mouth were on fire! And yet, I simply could not stop eating it…The recipe here is the closest I could get to that taste except it is probably not as spicy – or maybe I am just better at eating spicy foods now. You are welcome to increase the amount of red chili powder or gochujang if you want to add more kick to it. I will leave that up to you.

You may notice that ginger is often used when Koreans cook pork. Ginger not only adds great flavor and gets rid of any “porky taste and smell” but is also known to neutralize the coldness of pork. In traditional Korean medicine, foods are divided into cold and warm foods. Pork is a cold food and ginger is a warm food. When used together ginger is said to help neutralize the coldness of the pork. I also know from experience that having a freshly brewed ginger tea really helps to calm my stomach down when I have a bad stomachache. I’m sure you have also heard about drinking ginger tea to help heal the common cold.  I have also read that Japanese serve ginger with sashimi to aid digestion and kill any bacteria that can be in the fish. There’s definitely something to ginger..

Print Recipe


Servings: 2-3                Time: prep 15 min+ cooking 10 min + marinating time                Difficulty: Easy


  • 1 lb thinly sliced pork neck butt/leg/shoulder
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 T Korean red pepper bean paste (고추장 gochujang)
  • 2 T cooking rice wine or mirin
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • 1 T grated or chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 T chopped green onions
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1~2 tsp Korean red chili powder (고추가루 gochukaroo)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


1. Traditionally, thinly sliced pieces from the neck, shoulder or hind leg (ham area) are used for pork bulgogi. The cut I bought from my local market is from the neck (collar butt) and it’s called moksal (목살) in Korean.

pork neck butt slices for bulgogi
pork neck butt slices for bulgogi
pork bulgogi meat
pork bulgogi meat






2. Make the marinade by mixing all of the ingredients above.

marinage for pork bulgogi
marinade for pork bulgogi

3. Mix the pork slices and the sauce together and marinate for at least 15 min. or more the better. You can let it marinate in the fridge for up to a day.

pork marinade for bulgogi
pork marinating in spicy bulgogi sauce

4. The best way to cook pork bulgogi is to BBQ it over a grill. But it’s not easy to just directly cook them over the conventional American BBQ grill because the pieces can fall through. Koreans usually use a grill that have smaller openings like the one below:

korean grill over charcoal
korean grill over charcoal

If using a standard American style grill, you can put a piece of tin foil and poke holes into it with a fork so some direct heat can come through. Like so..

tin foil with holes for Korean BBQ
tin foil with holes for Korean BBQ

You can also use grill baskets made for grilling vegetables or fish instead.

The other method is to buy a portable gas stove and a grill pan similar to shown here.

Portable gas stove and Korean grill pan
Portable gas stove and Korean grill pan

There are also other types of grill pans that have holes in them for the meat to get direct heat and these work great for bulgogi.

For everyday easy cooking, just heat a frying pan on medium high heat. The pan should be hot enough for the pork to sizzle as soon as it touches it. Cook the pork in the pan turning them over when it starts to brown. The pan should be really hot. Do not cook too much pork at once because that can lower the temperature. You want to cook the pork quickly and have a nice sear to them. If you end up with too much juice, the heat is probably not high enough or you added too much meat into the pan.

As a garnish, sprinkle some sesame seeds and sliced green onions. (optional)

Serve pork bulgogi with some rice, fresh vegetable side dishes or with some ssam and ssamjang and you can have a really deliciously hearty, quick and easy meal. It’s also a great dish to have with any jjigae or soup.

pork bulgogi and rice
pork bulgogi and rice


  • storage –  freeze either cooked or uncooked pork bulgogi. cooked bulgogi actually keeps the flavor longer.
  • variations – add sliced onions, carrots and/or mushrooms for added flavor

Spicy soy braised pork ribs (돼지갈비 조림 Dweji Kalbi Jorim)

Spicy braised pork ribs (돼지갈비 조림 Dweji Kalbi Jorim)
Spicy braised pork ribs (돼지갈비 조림 Dweji Kalbi Jorim)
Spicy braised pork ribs (돼지갈비 조림 Dweji Kalbi Jorim)

This is Korean braised pork ribs cooked my family style – quite salty and spicy and not at all sweet. Eating this dish always brings back my childhood memories – my absolute favorite but it also was a bit of a torture eating these because they were so spicy. It could be that I simply couldn’t handle the heat but I really think the Korean chili peppers were a lot spicier than the ones I get today in California. After eating about two ribs, my lips would start to hurt and then would start throbbing because it was so spicy and salty. Towards the end of the meal, my lips were basically numb. But I couldn’t stop eating…it was just too good…. my mouth is watering now just thinking about it! Unfortunately, I never learned how to make this dish before I left home. But kudos to my sis #2 for making this for me and giving me the recipe.

I don’t think I ever saw this dish served at a restaurant anywhere and I thought it was just one of those Korean foods that are made at home and not at restaurants. But when I searched on the Korean internet for Dweji Kalbi Jorim (braised pork ribs) recipes, I was surprised to find that there were no recipes similar to ours. Our ribs have no sweetness at all whereas all of the recipes I saw had some sugar and cooking wine which means there is added sweetness. They also usually have garlic which I don’t find necessary. In terms of ingredients, this recipe has very few – only 5 not including water. So this would be a great recipe for students or singles who really don’t (or even want to) have an extensive pantry of seasonings and ingredients.


Servings: 4                        Time: prep 5-10 min + cooking 1 hr 15 min                       Difficulty: Easy


  1. 2 lb pork spare ribs
  2. 3/4 C + 2 T regular soy sauce (Kikkoman)
  3. 1 oz ginger (about 4 slices, each 1/4 in thick)
  4. 8 Korean green chili peppers (풋고추 putgochu) – use less if using spicier pepper
  5. 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  6. 2 3/4 C water
  7. 1/8 ~ 1/4 tsp ginger powder (optional)


The pork ribs I used in this post was bought at Whole Foods Market (because they had a great sale!) but you can use your favorite ribs from your local store.

pork ribs on sale
Whole Food’s pork spare ribs, St Louis style 

These St Louis style (breast bone removed) spare ribs didn’t have too much fat and was not too big – perfect for our jorim.

sliced into individual ribs
sliced into individual ribs

1. Slice the ribs into individual pieces and soak them in cold water for 5-10 minutes to draw out the blood.

2. Prepare the ginger by peeling and cutting 4 to 5 of 1/4 inch thick slices.

3. Cut the Korean green chili peppers into half or thirds (approx 1 1/2 inch long pieces).

cut Korean green chili peppers (풋고추 putgochu)
cut Korean green chili peppers (풋고추 putgochu)

I like to use Korean peppers because of their sweetness and milder taste. If these are not available to you, you can substitute Jalapeno peppers. Since Jalapeno peppers are considerably hotter than the Korean peppers, the amount should be reduced to 3-4 peppers depending on how spicy you want it.

3. In a pot, add the pork, water, soy sauce, ginger and black pepper. And optionally add the ginger powder.

ribs with soy sauce, ginger, water and pepper
ribs with soy sauce, ginger, water and pepper
  • Bring it to a boil on medium high heat.
  • Lower heat to medium, cook for 10 min.

4. Add about half of the chili peppers.

  • Lower heat to medium low and simmer for 25 min.
  • Taste a little of the sauce to make sure it’s not too spicy for you. If it’s ok, add the remaining chili peppers and simmer for another 20 min. The sauce should taste really salty – the meat will taste much less saltier so don’t worry.
pork ribs braised in soy sauce and green chili pepers
pork ribs braised in soy sauce and green chili peppers

This picture was taken when it was about half way done. Right after I added the rest of the peppers. And now you are ready to enjoy this wonderfully spicy, salty but the most mouth watering pork ribs you will ever have! Sprinkle some fresh green peppers on top to add some color.

Some tips

  • Because pork ribs have a lot of fat, you will see a lot of fat on top of the pot when it’s fully cooked. You can skim off the fat with a spoon if you are going to eat it right away. If you have some time, let it cool in a pot overnight or in the fridge and you will see the fat solids form on top. This is much easier to take out. But don’t take out all the fat – you need some for it to taste good.

    cooled pork ribs with fat solids on top
    cooled pork ribs with fat solids on top
  • This dish is quite salty so you definitely need some rice to help you out. Serve a sweet and tangy salad or a creamy potato salad with this dish (and of course, kimchi) and you will be in heaven!
  • The ribs will actually taste better when you reheat them the next day or the day after. Remember to add a bit more water every time you reheat.
Spicy braised pork ribs (돼지갈비 조림 Dweji Kalbi Jorim)
Spicy braised pork ribs (돼지갈비 조림 Dweji Kalbi Jorim) with green chili peppers

Kimchi stew with pork belly

Kimchi Stew (Jjigae/Chigae)
Kimchi Stew (Jjigae/Chigae)
Kimchi Stew (Jjigae/Chigae)

I still remember the very first time I made Kimchi Jjigae all by myself – it was when I was visiting my brother in Virginia. The winter snow storm that year (1984? 1985?) was so bad that we were stuck in his apartment for almost a week with no means of getting to a store. The first time I stepped outside,  the snow had accumulated up to my thigh level! We were running out of things to eat and we were really getting tired of eating pastrami sandwiches and chips…And then we found some old kimchi in the fridge! My kimchi jjigae turned out surprisingly delicious (it could have been that we were both pretty desperate for some real food) and so I have been a fan of Kimchi Jjigae ever since.

Kimchi Jjigae is very simple to make. As long as you use a good quality, well ripe (VERY IMPORTANT!) kimchi, it is really hard to mess things up. However, there are some ways to make a better tasting kimchi jjigae so hopefully this post will help you make some amazing kimchi stew!

For more discussions about Kimchi (the history and how to ripen them), please read my previous post – No Crazy Kimchi.

The recipe below is for Pork Kimchi Jjigae which is the “standard.” Restaurants serve this variation the most – probably because pork and kimchi are just magical together. I do have issues with many restaurant jjigaes though – they often use kimchi that is not sour enough and also not enough of it. It produces jjigae that really does not have much depth of flavor.


Servings: 2-3         Prep Time:  10 min   Cooking Time: 30      Diffculty: easy

Ingredients for Pork Kimchi Jjigae (돼지고기 김치찌게 Dwejikogi Kimchi Jjigae)

  • 3 -4 C (7 to 8 oz) chopped sour kimchi (신김치 shin kimchi) or aged kimchi (묵은지 Moogeunji)
  • 8 oz pork belly or shoulder (should have some fat)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped or crushed)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 packet of anchovy stock or 5 large anchovies for stock
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 3 C water

    • 1 T mirin (rice wine)
    • 1/4 tsp red chili powder
    • 1/2 onion, sliced
    • 1/4 tsp gook kanjang
    • 1 tsp sesame oil


You need kimchi that is overly ripe and sour. You really cannot make good kimchi jjigae if the kimchi is not sour enough. You can also use aged kimchi (kimchi that has been fermenting for 30+ days). This will produce a very sour jjigae that some people just love. I prefer my kimchi jjigae to be not too sour, so I usually just save leftover kimchi from the table (you should never put leftover kimchi from the table back into the original jar) and keep in the fridge for 2 weeks or so (less than 30 days) and use in my stew.

aged kimchi vs ripe kimchi
aged (sour) kimchi vs ripe kimchi

If you look at the image above, you can see how kimchi looks very different based on how ripe they are. The kimchi on the left is quite old, overly ripe, sour and has almost a translucent look to it. The color is also no longer white but more yellowish brown. The kimchi on the right is perfectly ripe, very slightly sour and is about 2 weeks old. The color is white and opaque. The kimchi on the right is probably not overly ripe enough to make good jjigae (I just put in this picture to give a comparison). Use kimchi that is more close to the left picture.

1. If you have a whole cabbage kimchi, cut into smaller pieces.

2. Cut pork against the grain into bite size pieces.

cut pork into small pieces
cut pork into small pieces (pork should have some fat)

3. Heat oil in a pot and saute the pork on medium high heat until slightly cooked.

sauteeing pork for kimchi jjigae
sauteeing pork for kimchi jjigae

4. Add the kimchi and sauté for another 7 – 8 min.

sauteeing kimchi and pork
sauteeing kimchi and pork

5. Add water, rice wine, chopped garlic, garlic powder and the dried anchovies (or anchovy stock packet).  Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 min. Halfway through the simmer (15 min), taste the soup. If you think it could use some additional seasoning, add the red chili powder and gook kanjang. You can also add some the of the kimchi juice if you feel it is tasting a bit bland. I usually find that it turns out too spicy and salty if I add the juice but it all depends on how spicy and salty your kimchi is. So taste it along the way and adjust the seasonings.

kimchi jjigae before
kimchi jjigae before it’s fully cooked
simply delicious kimchi jjigae
simply delicious kimchi jjigae

It is ready! Just serve with some rice and with some meat or fish. Since kimchi jjigae is quite salty and spicy, it goes really well with heavier dishes such as grilled meats (kalbi, bulgogi, pork belly) . Try Kimchi Jjigae cold (room temp) with some hot rice – the contrast in temperature somehow makes it really taste good.


If your kimchi is too sour, try adding a tsp or two of sugar. If your kimchi is not sour enough and you are really desperate for some good kimchi jjigae, try adding some vinegar or sauerkraut in addition to your kimchi.


  • Plain Kimchi Jjigae – This has become my favorite. I love the clean taste of this jjigae. Just sauté the kimchi and onions in 2 T oil, add water, garlic powder and dried anchovies.
  • Tofu Kimchi Jjigae – Add tofu to the plain version or to any other type of kimchi jjigae.
  • Tuna Kimchi Jjigae – Add tuna to the plain version.
  • Beef Kimchi Jjigae – Substitute beef for pork.
  • Spike Mackerel Kimchi Jjigae – Add a can of spike mackerel. Add some gochujang in addition to the plain version.
  • Combo Kimchi Jjigae –  Mix different kinds of kimchi-including radish kimchis such as young radish kimchi (총각김치 chonggak kimchi) or cubed radish kimchi (깍두기 kkakttooki) which is one of my favorite. Radishes add another dimension of taste and texture- so try it!


Kimchi Jjigae will keep in room temperature for 2-3 days because it is so salty. Remember to reheat once a day. Many people say that it actually tastes better the next day when you reheat it, and I completely agree. When you reheat it, add 1 T of water to prevent it from getting too salty. Keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Pork belly cooked with onions(돼지고기 삼겹살)

Dry cooked pork belly
Dry cooked pork belly with onions

Here is the simplest way to cook pork belly (Sam-Kyup-Sal 삼겹살) Korean style.  In Korean cuisine, pork belly is usually either boiled in water or cut into thin slices and grilled. When boiled in water, ginger is mostly used. In addition, people have been adding Korean Soy Bean paste, coffee grinds, onions, garlic… all sorts of ingredients to make it taste better. I tried coffee grinds, soybean paste, .. just about everything. However, when my mother-in-law cooked this dish for me recently – it was the best tasting Sam-Kyup-Sal ever!



4 servings, approx 1 hour needed

  • 2 lb pork belly
  • 1 large onion (2 medium onions)
  • 10 green onions or scallions


1. Cut the onions into 1/2 inch thick slices so that you have enough onion slices to cover the bottom of a thick iron or good quality pot that does not burn easily.

onions for pork belly

2. Cut the pork belly into 2-3 inch wide pieces and put it on top of the onions. The picture shows the skin side up but you can lay the meat skin side down if you do not wish to have the meat side too burned.

pork belly on top of onions

 3. Clean the green onions or scallions and cut it in half. You should have enough green onions to cover the meat. If you can, save the root end of the green onions, clean it well and also add it to the pot. The green onion used here is much bigger and wider than the green onions you get in the US. But the smaller green onions should not make too much of a difference.

Green onions on top of meat

4. Turn the heat to medium high and cover the pot. Let it cook for few minutes (10 min or so) until you smell the onions burning a bit. So you may wonder.. no water? no oil? No worries..You will get the fat dripping from the pork belly so you actually don’t need any additional liquid.

5. Now lower the heat to low and cook for about an hour until the meat is cooked thoroughly. Pictured below is when the pork is fully cooked. The onions looked burnt but it’s ok. You are not going to eat the onions but just the meat. You can test how well the meat is cooked by piercing the meat with a chopstick or fork. If the chopstick or fork goes in without too much resistance and if there’s no blood, it is completely cooked.

 pork belly fully cooked

6. Take the meat out of the pot, let it sit for few minutes. Discard onions. Cut the pork into about 1/4 inch slices (thicker or thinner however you like it) . Eat the pork with one of the following condiments:

  • soy sauce and vinegar (초간장)
  • ssam-jang (쌈장 ) – recipe already posted
  • kimchi
  • sae-woo-jeot (새우젓 ) – this is a salted and fermented tiny shrimp–tastes fabulous with pork!


Be sure to buy good quality pork belly. If available, 흑돼지삼겹살 (black pig pork belly) is a great choice. Along with the condiments, I recommend you eat this pork with rice, lettuce wraps (see ssambap) and kimchi.
Enjoy and cheers!