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Kimchi Stew Jjigae 김치 찌개

It’s irrefutable that Koreans and kimchi go hand and hand.  Where would we be without it?  Lost, I’d say.  So what exactly is kimchi and what’s so great about it?  I’m glad you asked!  I have a Kimchi FAQ and traditional recipe right here for you guys as well as an entire playlist dedicated to all things kimchi.

After receiving a crash course in kimchi, you’ll want to know more about what you can do with it besides eat it straight up or serve it as a banchan aka side dish.  The answer for us and many Koreans is simple.

Many immigrants, along with my parents, arrived breathlessly in the States with little more than a dream in their left pocket and a photo of all their loved ones they’d left behind in the other.  Thrust in a strange land with no established ground, it wasn’t exactly like they were dining on steak and potatoes upon arrival.  Often times, meats lined in tin cans served as the main protein in our household.  Spam, vienna sausages, tuna?  We had it all and my folks had a knack for making things stretch and taste delicious.  I attribute my resourcefulness to them.  We never threw anything away, most certainly not food.  This jjigae (stew), is a vibrant marriage of old kimchi, scraps of veggies, and whatever potted meat that had been left lonely in your pantry.  It’s the quintessential casserole of sorts, if you will.  For me, it’s comfort food.  It’s food that reminds me of growing up with my siblings, having simple meals with the family, and enjoying moments that were homegrown, uncomplicated and richly rooted in tradition and culture.

This kimchi stew is precisely all of those things.  Also, it’s fast and easy…and delicious!  If you haven’t explored Korean cuisine beyond Korean bbq, it’s time to give kimchi a try.  It’s as essential to Koreans as the rice we enjoy it with.  Kimchi jjigae would be a solid place to begin as it softens that sharp bite that raw kimchi can have and when rich flavors like seafood or meat lend itself to the soup, it certainly becomes more palatable if you’re unfamiliar with kimchi.  Whether you decide you have a love or hate relationship with kimchi, kimchi is so all important that it’s definitely worth investigating.  For those kimchi lovers out there, may I present to you one of the most classic, delicious, and easy kimchi recipes that exist, kimchi stew.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Kimchi Jjigae (with Tuna)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Soup/Stew
Cuisine: Korean
Serves: 3-4 Servings
  • 4 strips of thick cut bacon
  • 2 ts minced garlic
  • ½ tb Korean pepper flakes
  • ½ sliced onion
  • 1 c roughly chopped well fermented kimchi
  • 1 can tuna (packed in olive oil)
  • 1½ c water (or chicken broth) + 1 c kimchi broth
  • ¼ block of cubed tofu
  • Green onions (to scatter)
  • Optional: Glass noodles
  1. Fry your bacon.
  2. Stir in your onion, garlic, and pepper flakes.
  3. Add your kimchi and allow it to soften a bit.
  4. Tumble in your tuna.
  5. Tip in your liquids. Allow it to bubble.
  6. Top with tofu and sprinkle with lots of green onions.
Additionally, you could boil this together with pork neck bones, brisket, seafood (really anything you'd like).

Love & lots of Kimchi!

Your Squishy Monster ^.~

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