Kimchi Stew Recipe (aka Kimchi Jjigae)

Nothing says comfort like a bubbling pot of Kimchi Jjigae AKA Korean Kimchi Stew. Spicy, pungent, and oh so delicious! The best recipe to get rid of old kimchi!

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

Kimchi Stew aka Kimchi Jjigae is the Korean answer to the problem of what to do with old kimchi.

Kimchi is a fermented food. As with all fermented foods, there comes a time when fermentation has done its work and then some. Ever forgotten about a jar of kimchi stashed in the back of your fridge? Abandoned and forlorn, that jar of overly fermented kimchi no longer tastes good.

What’s a person to do? Throw it out? NEVER!! Old kimchi means it’s time to cook Kimchi Jjigae!

close up of kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae)

Growing up, Kimchi Jjigae was such a standard meal that we never ordered it in Korean restaurants. Koreans always have kimchi (multiple jars, multiple kinds) and that kimchi eventually always gets old.

You can make basic Kimchi Jjigae with old kimchi and water. Or you can jazz it up with homemade anchovy stock, kombu, and pork shoulder or pork belly.

pot of kimchi stew and ladle next to a bowl of kimchi stew

My recipe is somewhere in between. The pork belly feels decadent and rich. But without anchovy stock to prep, this soup is a breeze to make. My secret is a few dashes of fish sauce at the end of the cooking process, which mimics the taste of anchovy stock without all the work. Honestly, though, if your kimchi is good to begin with, you probably won’t need it.

Kimchi Jjigae was one of the standard meals we ate, on a regular basis, growing up in our Korean American house. We ate kimchi jjigae when there was nothing in the fridge. We ate kimchi jjigae when we were too tired to cook. We ate it in the dead of winter and in the profane heat of the summer, too.

Make this favorite, throw-everything-in-the-pot-and-walk-away meal a staple in your home, too!

Secret ingredient:

The secret to making good Kimchi Jjigae is old, stinky kimchi. You CANNOT make good Kimchi Jjigae with fresh kimchi! Don’t even try!! And of course, the better the kimchi, the better the Kimchi Jjigae.

What does old kimchi look like? Old kimchi is well fermented so it’s 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.

How to Make Kimchi Stew aka Kimchi Jjigae:

The recipe for Kimchi Stew couldn’t be easier. Honestly, most of the time, I don’t even use a recipe.

Saute some old kimchi in a pot, with a little bit of oil, until golden orange in color.

Throw in some pork belly, gochujang, and sugar. Add enough water to (almost) cover.

Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, the kimchi should be soft and cooked through. The pork belly jiggly and unctuous. The liquid should be vibrantly red, almost orange in color.

Add tofu and simmer for additional 2-3 minutes. This is just enough time to warm it through.

Add a few dashes of fish sauce, then add sesame seed oil and butter. Garnish and serve! Enjoy with rice.

Kimchi Stew aka Kimchi Jjigae

Nothing says comfort like a bubbling pot of Korean Kimchi Stew aka Kimchi Jjigae. Spicy, pungent, and oh so delicious! The best way to get rid of old kimchi.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Soup, Stew
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: Jjigae, Kimchi, Stew
Servings: 4 generous servings
Author: The Subversive Table

Ingredients

  • 2 cups kimchi + juice old + stinky kimchi required!
  • 2 cups pork belly, cut into bite-sized chunks (about 2 lbs)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 heaping Tbsp gochujang
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 package tofu add more or less, depending on your preference
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2-3 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 green onion, chopped optional garnish
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds optional garnish

Instructions

  • Add kimchi, pork belly, water, gochujang, and sugar to a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until pork belly and kimchi is soft and cooked through, about 25-30 minutes.
    kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae) uncooked in big pot
  • Add tofu and simmer until heated through, about 2-3 more minutes.
    big pot of kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae) with ladle
  • Add fish sauce, sesame oil, and butter. Garnish with green onion and sesame seeds. Serve with rice and enjoy!
    black pot of kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae)

Notes

*Kimchi stew aka Kimchi Jjigae is a braised kimchi soup without much liquid.  However, if you prefer a little more soup, add 1 cup water.  

Looking for more Kimchi Inspiration?

Kimchi Anthropology: Origins
Kimchi Anthropology: Fermentation
Budae Jjigae
Kimchi Cheese Fries
Kimchi Queso Dip
Easy Kimchi Fried Rice
All Recipes, Dinner with Friends, Gochujang, Kimchi, Korean, One Pan Meal, Pork, Potluck, Soup, Weeknight Meals
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[…] Kimchi lasts forever. It’s perfect Quarantine food, actually. I’ve never seen kimchi mold or go bad. It simply gets more and more fermented. When it’s so old that it fizzes in your mouth, it’s time to throw in a pot and make Kimchi Jjigae. […]