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 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. Deeply delicious. Addictively spicy. Tantalizing, heady flavors. SO comforting and nourishing.

Not surprisingly, Kimchi Stew is one of the most popular and common Korean soups to make at home. Most families eat it at least once a month!

A simple and delicious one-pot meal, this hearty Korean stew answers the question: what can we do with the overly sour kimchi that doesn’t taste good anymore?

The Korean answer is easy: old kimchi means it’s time to make Kimchi Jjigae!

Usually, home cooks add other ingredients: tofu, pork, and sometimes beef or canned tuna. With a few ingredients, you’ll get a delicious, comforting, deeply nourishing stew.

Eaten with a simple bowl of rice on the side, it’s economical, hearty, healthy, and delicious.

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 protein (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.

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

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, pork belly is such a luxurious addition. Cook until tender and jiggly for the ultimate comfort food.
  • Pork Bones. Optional but makes Kimchi Jjigae extra delicious. The flavor and marrow from the bones make the most delicious broth. Use either pork ribs, pork riblets, or leftover pork chop bones.
  • Gochujang + Fish Sauce. The flavor boosters.
  • Sugar. Just a pinch to balance the acidity of the kimchi.
  • 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. Makes Kimchi Stew extra special.
  • Green onion + Sesame seeds. Optional garnish.
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 water, pork belly, pork bones, gochujang, and sugar. 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.
  4. Garnish and serve! Add sesame seed oil and butter. Sprinkle green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy with rice.

PRO Tips:

  • Add Pork Bones. Adding pork bones makes the broth truly magical. I recommend baby back pork ribs, pork riblets, leftover pork chop bones, etc. The rich marrow and minerals will deeply flavor the broth.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning. Kimchi is a fermented food product and tastes different, depending on age and environment. Right before serving, taste and adjust seasoning. If it tastes flat, add a dash or two of fish sauce. If it tastes too acidic or spicy, add a pinch of sugar. If the kimchi tastes too “raw,” simmer for 10-15 more minutes.
  • Add Dashi stock or Chicken broth. For an extra boost of flavor, add dashi stock or chicken broth instead of water.

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.

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 jjigae, 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. Or double up the tofu instead.

Other Kimchi recipes you may enjoy:

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

Easy Kimchi Jjigae with Pork Belly (Kimchi Stew)

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
Nothing says comfort like a bubbling pot of Korean Kimchi Jjigae. Spicy, pungent, and oh so delicious!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Soup, Stew
Cuisine Korean
Servings 6
Calories

Equipment

  • Large stock pot

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups kimchi + juice old, well fermented, aged kimchi
  • 2 lbs pork belly, cut into bite-sized chunks (they will shrink)
  • 2 lbs pork bones (baby back pork ribs, pork riblets, leftover pork chop bones, etc.) *optional
  • 2 cups water
  • 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
 

  • Cook kimchi. *Optional step if kimchi is not old enough or if using low quality kimchi.* 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, gochujang, and sugar. 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.
    kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae) uncooked in big pot
  • Add tofu. Cube tofu and add to the pot. Cover and simmer until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
    big pot of kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae) with ladle
  • 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 with rice and enjoy! *If using leftover pork chop bones, don't forget to remove them before serving. Pork ribs and riblets can be served, as is.
    black pot of kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae)

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.  
Keyword Jjigae, Kimchi, Pork Belly, Stew
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All Recipes, Dinner with Friends, Gochujang, Kimchi, Korean, Pork, Potluck, Soup, Weeknight Meals

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