Easy, mouth-watering, deeply delicious Kimchi Jjim. A magical Korean dish starring stewed, braised Kimchi with thick slices of pork belly and tofu!
Wondering what to do with the old, sour kimchi in your fridge? Make Kimchi Jjim or Braised Kimchi!
The Korean way to make a delicious, mouth-watering feast out of the forlorn kimchi that’s forgotten in the back of your fridge!
What is Kimchi Jjim?
Kimchi Jjim is a home cooked Korean dish starring stewed, braised kimchi. Old, overly sour kimchi is cooked for a long time until rich and decadently stewy. Gloriously rich and full of deep flavor — it’s so delicious yet easy to make at home!
Kimchi Jjim is versatile and can be eaten in a variety of ways. Plain, without meat. With tofu. Or, as a hearty, meaty dish with the addition of pork, beef, canned tuna, hard-boiled eggs, chicken, or spam.
Growing up in my Korean American home, Kimchi Jjim was considered Jip Bap — “home food.” Homey, cozy, comfort food made from leftovers. Not fancy and certainly not company worthy.
But with thick slices of fatty pork belly and tofu — Korean Braised Kimchi instantly becomes a special, decadent dish!
- OLD Kimchi. The star ingredient. Use the best kimchi, as it will greatly affect the quality of the final dish. Do not make with new or freshly made kimchi! It won’t taste the same at all!
- Tofu. Firm or Extra-firm Tofu absorbs all the rich, stewy flavors and won’t fall apart.
- Pork Belly. Look for thick, long pieces of pork belly with a good ratio of meat to fat.
- Ginger. The aromatic that’s used for parboiling the pork belly. Gets rid of that porky, gamey smell and flavor.
- Sesame Oil. A drizzle at the end adds aromatic, nutty richness.
Note: Traditionally, Kimchi Jjim is cooked with Pogi Kimchi — traditional whole cabbage kimchi. There’s an aesthetic to serving this dish in a wedge.
But in my Korean American kitchen, I usually have Mat Kimchi (pre-cut) which cooks more quickly. That’s why I recommend parboiling the pork belly first. That way, the Mat Kimchi (pre-cut) won’t get too soggy.
- Parboil pork belly. Boil pork belly with ginger slices for 10 minutes. Scum will rise to the surface and stick to the pot and pork belly.
- Drain + rinse pork belly. Rinse off the scum and fat particles with cold water. Wash the pot.
- Braise. In the newly washed pot, fill the bottom with old kimchi + juice. Nestle the pork belly on top. Cover and cook until the meat is tender, about 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness.
- Slice Pork Belly. Remove pork belly and slice on a cutting board. Return sliced pork belly carefully back into the pot.
- Add Tofu. Drain and slice tofu. Nestle in between pork belly strips. Cover and gently warm, making sure to spoon juices over the tofu.
- Garnish and serve! Drizzle with sesame oil and garnish with green onion and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
- Use OLD kimchi. For spectacular Kimchi Jjim, use the oldest kimchi you have. It should be very sour, acidic, soft, juicy, and overly fermented. When cooked down, old kimchi takes on a deeper, more mellow flavor and cooks down beautifully.
- Slice pork belly with a sharp knife. Otherwise, the braised pork belly can easily shred and fall apart while slicing.
- Make ahead. Make up to 2-3 days in advance. However, do not add tofu until right before serving.
How can you tell when kimchi is old?
Take a bite. If the kimchi is overly sour and fizzes in your mouth, it’s old. It should be very soft, juicy, and dark red/orange.
In a typical fridge, it takes about 3-6 months for kimchi to age enough to be considered “old.” But it really depends on your kimchi, where you live, and how you store your kimchi. In general, warmer temperatures speed up the fermentation process and ripens kimchi faster.
Does kimchi ever go bad?
Fermentation is a cooking process that’s safely preserved food for thousands of years. When properly fermented, kimchi does not go bad. Unless there’s mold, kimchi is safe to eat even 2-3 years after packed into jars.
Can I leave out the pork belly?
Yes, of course you can! Replace with pork butt/shoulder or leave out the pork entirely. Some other substitutes: beef, canned tuna, chicken, and hard boiled eggs.
Make it vegetarian or vegan by adding tofu only. *If veganizing, make sure the kimchi is vegan as it contains small amounts of fermented shrimp and/or fish sauce.
More recipes with OLD kimchi:
- Kimchi Jjigae
- Budae Jjigae
- Spam Kimchi fried rice
- Porkchops with Kimchi Pan Sauce
- Kongnamul Bap AKA Soybean Sprout Rice
- Kimchi Pancake
Kimchi Jjim AKA Braised Kimchi
- Shallow braiser with lid (donabe or clay pot or enameled cast iron braisers all work well)
- 2 strips thick cut pork belly (about 2-3 lbs total)
- 3-inch ginger, cut into thin strips
- 2-3 cups old kimchi + juices
- 1 block tofu (medium or firm)
- drizzle sesame oil (optional, at the end)
Parboil Pork Belly:
- In a shallow braiser, add pork belly and enough cold water to just cover. Add ginger slices and boil for 10 minutes. The water should boil furiously; scum will rise to the surface and stick to the pot and pork belly. (Don't be tempted to skip this step! Parboiling keeps the pork from tasting too game-y. Also, it prevents the kimchi from turning to mush while the pork belly cooks down to tender succulence).
- Drain and wash pork belly with cold water, making sure to rinse off all the scummy bits. Discard ginger. Wash the pot thoroughly.
- In the newly washed pot, fill the bottom with old kimchi + juice. Nestle the pork belly on top. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, until the meat is tender and cooked through. Depending on thickness, this should take 20-30 minutes.
- The pork belly should be tender enough to slice easily. After 20 minutes, I test by lightly tapping with my tongs. There should be no "bounce" to the meat. Instead, the pork belly should have some give and feel soft.
- Using tongs, remove pork belly from the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Slice into 1/2-inch slices. Return pork belly to the pan, keeping the slices shingled neatly.
- Slice tofu into 1/2 inch slices and shingle slices in between the pork belly. There should be alternating rows of shingled pork belly and shingled tofu slices.
- Cover and simmer until tofu is heated through, about 5 minutes. Uncover and spoon kimchi juices over the tofu. Drizzle with sesame oil and garnish with green onion and sesame seeds. Serve with rice and other banchan (side dishes). Enjoy!