Easy Kimchi Jjigae with Pork Belly (Kimchi Stew)

Difficulty Easy

Nothing says comfort like a bubbling pot of spicy, incredibly delicious, easy-to-make Kimchi Jjigae. Pork Belly and Pork Riblets make this easy Korean stew recipe especially flavorful and decadent. A staple of Korean home cooking and a great way to use up the old kimchi in your fridge!

What is Kimchi Jjigae or Kimchi Stew?

Kimchi Jjigae is a classic Korean stew made with old, well-fermented kimchi. One of the most popular and common Korean soups to make at home, it requires minimal effort but produces maximum flavor.

The secret comes from using old, sour kimchi. When cooked, old kimchi transforms into something truly magical. Throw into a pot and cook until thick and stewy. The end result is a deeply, addictively delicious Korean soup.

Incredibly versatile and budget-friendly, you can add just about any protein to Kimchi Jjigae. Typical additions include pork or pork products, such as Spam. Canned tuna is also very popular. Even beef or chicken can be added. Or make a vegan or vegetarian Kimchi jjigae by not including meat at all. Don’t forget the tofu, which is essential!

My recipe is made extra special with two kinds of pork: pork belly and pork riblets or ribs. Fatty pork belly makes for luscious, tender chunks of meat. Pork riblets or ribs make the broth extra delicious, as all the marrow and flavor ooze out of the bones.

Eaten with a bowl of rice, it’s economical, hearty, healthy, and delicious. Pure comfort food and SO nourishing.

close up of kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae)

Why make Kimchi Jjigae at home?

  • Easy to make. A true, one-pot meal! Throw everything into a pot and let it boil away — that’s it!
  • Versatile. Make it your own. Make it vegan, vegetarian, or extra meaty. Tastes great with a variety of proteins (tofu, pork, Spam, chicken, beef, canned tuna). Or, add rice cakes, ramen noodles, or udon noodles for more carby goodness.
  • Exciting Flavors. Well-fermented kimchi cooks down into a gloriously delicious, mouth-watering pot of soup! No boring flavors here!
  • A great way to use up old kimchi. Don’t ever throw away an old jar of kimchi again!

Make it once and you’ll see why Koreans turn to this simple dish again and again.

kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae) in a white bowl with spoon

Ingredients:

  • OLD Kimchi. The secret to a good Kimchi Jjigae recipe is old, well-fermented, mature, very ripe, aged kimchi. The older the kimchi, the better the kimchi jjigae. Do not use new, freshly made kimchi — it won’t taste the same.
  • Pork Belly. Kimchi + Pork = Korean BFFs! While any kind of pork works, fatty pork belly is such a luxurious addition. Cook until tender and jiggly for the ultimate comfort food.
  • Pork Riblets. Makes Kimchi Jjigae extra delicious. The flavor and marrow from the bones make the most magical, deeply flavored broth. Use either pork ribs, pork riblets, or leftover pork chop bones.
  • Water or Anchovy Stock. Anchovy stock makes it extra flavorful and deep. If you have it, anchovy stock is preferred. I keep anchovy bouillon powder or anchovy tablets in my pantry. But I’ve also made kimchi jjigae many, many times with only water. Still delicious!
  • Gochujang. Korean fermented chili paste is a great flavor booster that also thickens the stew.
  • Tofu. Add any kind you like. I enjoy the silky texture of Soft tofu but firm tofu is also good and doesn’t break apart as easily.
  • Sesame Oil + Butter. Add right before serving for extra richness and fragrance.
  • Fish Sauce. Optional ingredient — if your kimchi stew tastes bland or a little flat, add a sprinkle or two of fish sauce to boost the flavor.
  • Sugar. Just a pinch to balance the acidity of the kimchi.
  • Green onion + Sesame seeds. Optional garnish. Not necessary but makes it look pretty.
bowl of kimchi stew with a spoon next to another bowl and napkin

Instructions:

  1. Cook kimchi. *Optional Step*. Saute kimchi until caramelized and golden orange for an intensely flavorful kimchi flavor. *FYI: an optional step when the kimchi is not old enough or the kimchi is not of great quality.*
  2. Simmer. Add kimchi, water or anchovy stock, pork belly, pork bones, and gochujang. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
  3. Add tofu. Slice tofu and add directly on top. Simmer until warmed through, about 5 minutes.
  4. Garnish and serve! Add sesame seed oil and butter. Sprinkle green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy with rice and side dishes.

Watch how to make it:

PRO Tips:

  • Taste and adjust seasoning. Kimchi is a fermented food product and tastes different, depending on age and environment. Right before serving the kimchi soup, taste and adjust the seasoning. If it tastes flat, add a dash or two of fish sauce. If it tastes too acidic or spicy, add a pinch or two of sugar. If the kimchi tastes too “raw,” simmer for 10-15 more minutes.
  • Don’t add too much kimchi juice. Kimchi juice can be quite acidic. If it’s too sour, you will need to balance the acidity with a little sugar later on.
  • Add water to the kimchi jar. If using the remaining kimchi in the bottom of the jar, add water and swirl around before dumping into the soup pot. My Korean grandma’s trick to extracting the most flavor from the kimchi jar.

FAQ:

How do I store leftovers?

Store leftover Kimchi Jjigae in a tightly sealed container in the fridge. Stays good for 3-4 days. Reheat leftovers on the stovetop until bubbling and steaming hot. If the stew becomes too thick, add a little water to thin it out.

How can you tell when kimchi is old enough?

Old kimchi is dark red, almost orange in color. The leaves are soft and there’s lots of juice. When you take a bite, it fizzes in your mouth. That sour, overly acidic taste tells you it’s time for Kimchi Jjigae.

Can I make a smaller portion?

Yes, this recipe is very easy to halve or double. My recipe is a generous amount, intended for 6 servings with leftovers.

Variations:

There are so many ways to enjoy Kimchi Jjigae at home! To change it up:

  • Add udon noodles. Thick, chewy udon noodles add a very different texture. I buy frozen Sanuki or Shirakiku Udon noodles and keep on hand in the freezer.
  • Add ramen noodles. Easy, inexpensive instant noodles give a texturally satisfying element.
  • Make it vegan. Don’t include the pork belly, pork bones, and fish sauce. And use vegan kimchi! For vegan kimchi stew, I recommend cooking down the kimchi to caramelize and intensify the kimchi flavor.
  • Swap the protein. Instead of pork belly and pork bones, add your favorite protein of choice. Spam, beef brisket, canned tuna, and even chicken all taste great.

Other Kimchi recipes you may enjoy:

close up of kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae)

Easy Kimchi Jjigae with Pork Belly (Kimchi Stew)

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
Nothing says comfort like a bubbling pot of spicy, incredibly delicious, easy-to-make Kimchi Jjigae. Pork Belly and Pork Riblets make this easy Korean stew especially flavorful and decadent. A staple of Korean home cooking and a great way to use up the old kimchi in your fridge!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Soup, Stew
Cuisine Korean
Servings 6
Calories 1061 kcal

Equipment

  • Large stock pot

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups kimchi old, well fermented, aged kimchi
  • 1.5 lbs pork belly, cut into bite-sized chunks (they will shrink)
  • 1.5 lbs pork bones (baby back pork ribs, pork riblets, leftover pork chop bones, etc.) *optional
  • 2 cups water or anchovy stock (or enough to cover)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp gochujang
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 package tofu
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 green onion, chopped optional garnish
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds optional garnish
  • dash or two fish sauce

Instructions
 

  • Saute kimchi. *Optional step if kimchi is not old enough or low quality.* In a large pot, add 1 tsp sesame oil + 1 tsp vegetable oil. Add kimchi and cook on medium heat until soft, caramelized, and the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Add pork belly, pork bones (if using), water, and gochujang. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until pork belly is jiggly and tender, pork riblets/ribs are falling off the bone, and the kimchi is cooked braised and soft, about 25-30 minutes.
  • Add tofu. Cube tofu and add to the pot. Cover and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  • Taste Kimchi Jjigae. If it tastes flat, add a dash or two of fish sauce and mix. If it's too acidic, add a pinch of sugar. If it tastes too raw, cook 10-15 minutes longer.
  • Add sesame oil and butter. Add drizzle of sesame oil and butter. Garnish with green onion and sesame seeds.
  • Serve and enjoy. Ladle into bowls and serve with rice. *If using leftover pork chop bones, don't forget to remove them before serving. Pork ribs and riblets can be served, as is.

Video

Notes

*How can you tell when kimchi is old? Old kimchi is dark red, almost orange in color. The leaves are soft and there’s lots of juice. When you take a bite, it fizzes in your mouth. That sour, overly acidic taste tells you it’s time for Kimchi Jjigae!
**Store leftovers in the fridge, tightly sealed, for 3-4 days.  Reheats well.  
Variations:
  • Add udon noodles. Thick, chewy udon noodles add a very different texture. I buy frozen Sanuki or Shirakiku Udon noodles and keep on hand in the freezer.
  • Add ramen noodles. Easy, inexpensive instant noodles give a texturally satisfying element.
  • Make it vegan. Don’t include the pork belly, pork bones, and fish sauce. And use vegan kimchi! For vegan kimchi stew, I recommend cooking down the kimchi to caramelize and intensify the kimchi flavor.
  • Swap the protein. Instead of pork belly and pork bones, add your favorite protein of choice. Spam, beef brisket, canned tuna, and even chicken all taste great.

Nutrition

Calories: 1061kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 36gFat: 99gSaturated Fat: 34gPolyunsaturated Fat: 15gMonounsaturated Fat: 42gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 182mgSodium: 611mgPotassium: 626mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 187IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 158mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Jjigae, Kimchi, Pork Belly, Stew
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
30 minutes, All Recipes, Dinner with Friends, Featured, Gochujang, Kimchi, Korean, Pork, Potluck, Soup, Weeknight Meals

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