Kimchi is one of my favourite fermented foods to eat. I’m addicted to its bold, full-bodied taste, and enjoy eating it raw alongside eggs, Asian dishes, burgers, salads and tacos. Not only does kimchi amp up the flavour of a dish, but it also adds additional nutrition, and is an excellent source of naturally occurring probiotics obtained from the kimchi fermentation process. Researchers have actually discovered a new species of the probiotic lactobacillus unique to kimchi and have named it lactobacillus kimchii. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11034488. Kimchi is not only a delicious and healthy raw condiment, it is also amazing when cooked. The microbes are killed off, but the nutritional value and superb flavour are maintained. My favourite way to cook kimchi is to make kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae)
COOKING WITH KIMCHI: KIMCHI STEW
When kimchi ages, the flavours become more pronounced and acidic. Since this pungency might overpower the dish you would serve it with, older kimchi is great to cook with. In Korea, older kimchi is cooked into a stew (jjigae). This stew has many variations, but the most popular includes fatty pork. This combination works well, since the acidity of the kimchi nicely balances out the richness of the fatty meat.
The kimchi stew recipe that I use is so easy since it contains only a few ingredients and no additional seasoning. The kimchi is already full of flavour, and the pork belly adds extra richness and salt. If you want more heat and punch, you can also add additional ginger and gochugaru pepper.
For a vegan version, substitute the pork belly with your favourite protein choice. I like to use the Hickory Smoked Knosh tempeh . You can also add some dried shiitake mushrooms for extra umami flavour.
How To Make Kimchi Stew
Serves 2-4 people
- 2 cups fermented kimchi or 1 x 500ml jar (cut in bite-sized pieces)
- 4 ounces/114 grams pork belly*
- 2 cups liquid (water from rinsed rice, chicken or vegetable stock, water)
- 1 block soft tofu cut into 1″ slices
- 2-3 green onions, sliced in bite-sized pieces
- 1 tsp grated ginger (optional)
- 1 tsp gochugaru pepper (optional)
- 1 tsp soy sauce (optional)
* Pork belly can be substituted with bacon or any other fatty meat. For a vegetarian/vegan version, use your preferred protein choice.
- Cut pork belly into small cubes. Add to hot, dry pan and sauté until golden brown.
- Add kimchi, liquid (and optional seasoning) to the pan. Simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes.
- Add green onions and tofu. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Serve on rice, top with fresh coriander and bean sprouts for a crisp, fresh contrast.