Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew)

By: MeganPosted: 10/03/2024 Updated: 12/04/2024
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 30 minutes
This kimchi jjigae or kimchi stew is easy to make and packed with kimchi, pork belly, tofu and savory comforting flavors to warm you up on a cold day.
Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew)

Kimchi jjigae or Korean kimchi stew is incredibly rich, savory, and comforting. This iconic kimchi tofu stew is incredibly hearty and made with pork belly, kimchi, shiitake mushrooms, anchovy broth, and tofu. This Korean stew is the go-to recipe we make when we want something warm and satisfying on a cold day.

A top down view of a small stone pot of kimchi jjigae.

The best part about this kimchi jjigae recipe is that it contains a few easy-to-find ingredients and less than 30 minutes to make! If you are looking for more comforting Korean soups to try, check out our spicy soft tofu soup (soondubu), budae jjigae (Korean army stew), and tteok mandu guk (Korean rice cake soup).

What is Kimchi Jjigae?

Kimchi jjigae (김치찌개) also known as kimchi soup, or kimchi stew is a very popular Korean soup that features kimchi as its star ingredient. This Korean kimchi soup is also made with pork belly, green onions, onions, and tofu. The broth is typically made with anchovy broth, kimchi brine, and gochugaru for a hint of spice.

This Kimchi tofu stew is typically cooked in an individual-sized stone pot and served with rice and accompanied by traditional Korean side dishes, banchan.

An up close shot of a pot of kimchi jjigae stew.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This recipe for kimchi jjigae is incredibly comforting. Here are 3 reasons why you should make this kimchi stew.

  1. Rich and Comforting. This kimchi tofu soup offers deep savory, spicy, and tangy flavors that are equally as satisfying as they are deeply comforting and soothing.
  2. Easy to make! Don’t let the complex layers of flavor deter you! This recipe for kimchi jjigae only requires a handful of ingredients and very basic cooking techniques that can be completed in under 30 minutes.
  3. Customizable. Kimchi tofu stew is easily customizable to suit your taste and dietary preferences.

Kitchen Equipment

You will need the following items of kitchen equipment to make this kimchi jjigae recipe. I’ve linked everything that I used for you below.

  • Stone Pot or small single-sized pot. This easy kimchi stew recipe only requires one single serving-sized earthenware stone pot called a “dolsot”. The pot retains the heat well and distributes it evenly for a more flavorful stew.

Ingredients

You can find all of the ingredients for this kimchi jjigae recipe at your local Korean grocery market. I have linked everything that I used for you below.

Kimchi Stew

  • Yellow onion and garlic: onion and garlic are the main aromatics for this Korean kimchi soup.
  • Pork belly: A fatty pork belly is ideal because it beautifully complements the fermented kimchi flavor.
  • Shiitake mushrooms: shiitake mushrooms add another layer of umami goodness.
  • Kimchi: kimchi is the star ingredient. The older and more fermented the kimchi the richer and more flavorful. In the Korean market, older kimchi is typically labeled as mukeunji (묵은지), which is old kimchi.
  • Firm Tofu: firm tofu is ideal for this Korean stew because it will hold its shape.
  • Green Onion: green onions are used for added aromatic flavor and as a garnish.
All the ingredients to add into the kimchi jjigae.

Soup Base

  • Anchovy Broth: anchovy broth is the base of the kimchi soup. You can make anchovy broth from these anchovy tea bags or anchovy tablets.
  • Kimchi Brine: additional kimchi brine from the kimchi creates a rich all-encompassing kimchi flavor.
  • Brown Sugar: brown sugar balances out the tangy flavors of the kimchi
  • Gochugaru: gochugaru or Korean chili flakes add a subtle heat and slightly sweet taste. It is what gives the kimchi pork stew its signature red color.
  • Gochujang: gochujang or Korean red pepper paste is spicy, salty, earthy, and sweet adding an underlying funky flavor to the kimchi stew.
  • Soup Soy Sauce: soup soy sauce is a Korean condiment that is slightly saltier and lighter in color than regular soy sauce. It adds a tasty umami component to the soup.
  • Salt: add salt to taste as a finishing ingredient
  • Sesame Oil: sesame oil adds a nutty savory flavor.
All the ingredients to make a kimchi stew soup base.

Substitutions and Additions

You can easily customize your kimchi stew recipe based on your dietary preferences. I have listed some suggestions for substitutions and additions for you below!

Substitutions

  • Protein: instead of pork belly, you can alternatively use pork ribs, sliced beef, canned tuna, shrimp, clams, squid, spam, etc.
  • Broth: if you do not want to use anchovy broth, you can alternatively use chicken broth, bone broth, or vegetable broth instead for a vegetarian version.
  • Rice water: instead of a broth, you can also use rice water instead.

Additions

  • Doenjang: doenjang or Korean soybean paste can also be added for a richer soybean flavor.
  • More gochugaru: for a spicier kimchi stew, add another tablespoon of gochugaru.
  • Vegetables: for more variety, you can add carrots, zucchini, other mushrooms, spinach etc.
  • Ramen noodles: instead of serving your Korean stew with rice, you can add ramen noodles instead.
  • Cheese: you can add sliced cheese or mozzarella cheese to the broth for a creamy texture that complements the kimchi flavors.

How to Make Kimchi Jjigae

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make this kimchi jjigae recipe. I recommend having everything prepped and measured before you begin to cook.

  1. Cook the aromatics, pork, and vegetables. In a small pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the yellow onion and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add the pork, kimchi, and mushrooms and cook until the pork is cooked through about 5 minutes.
  1. Add the soup base. Then add the anchovy broth, kimchi brine, sugar, gochugaru, gochujang, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and then cover and lower the heat to a simmer for 10-12 minutes.
Kimchi jjigae boiling in a stone pot.
  1. Add sesame oil, tofu, green onions, and serve. Then add the sesame oil and tofu and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Garnish with the green onion and serve with steamed rice. Enjoy!
A small stone pot of kimchi jjigae stew.

Tips for the Best Kimchi Jjigae

  • Make the anchovy broth before you begin the kimchi stew. Cook the anchovy broth first before you begin cooking the kimchi jjigae.
  • Use well-fermented old kimchi. For the richest kimchi flavor, be sure to use well-fermented old kimchi which is typically labeled mukeunji (묵은지).
  • Taste to adjust! You may need to adjust the amount of sugar and salt based on your flavor profile.
  • For more spice, add more gochugaru. If you want to kick the spice level from mild/medium to hot then add more gochugaru.
  • Simmer slowly: simmer the kimchi jjigae over low to medium-low heat. This allows the flavor to meld together and develop more depth.

Storage Instructions

This kimchi tofu stew is best served immediately. However, you can store any leftovers by allowing the stew to cool to room temperature before putting it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Reheat: to reheat transfer the portion to the pot and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until warm.

Frequently Asked Q’s and A’s

How do you serve kimchi stew?

You can serve your kimchi jjigae with a side of rice and your favorite Korean side dishes such as pickled radish, Korean fishcake stir fry (eomuk bokkeum), or Korean cucumber salad (oi muchim).

Is kimchi jjigae spicy?

This Korean kimchi soup can be spicy depending on the amount of gochugaru and gochujang that you use. This kimchi jjigae recipe uses a moderate amount for a mild/medium amount of heat.

Is kimchi jjigae healthy?

Yes! Kimchi jjigae is nutritious since it is mostly made with protein, kimchi, and anchovy broth. Kimchi is rich in probiotics and vitamins making it a healthy addition to your diet.

Can I make kimchi stew in advance?

Yes, you can easily double or triple the recipe and make it in advance. Then reheat it on the stove when you are ready to serve. I recommend not adding the tofu until you are ready to serve for easy storage.

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Recipe

A small stone pot of kimchi jjigae stew.

Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew)

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
This kimchi jjigae or kimchi stew is easy to make and packed with kimchi, pork belly, tofu and savory comforting flavors to warm you up on a cold day.
Servings: 1 serving
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ small yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 4 oz pork belly thinly sliced
  • 2 shiitake mushrooms stems removed thinly sliced
  • 1 cup kimchi chopped
  • ½ container (8 oz) firm tofu sliced
  • 2 green onion minced for garnish

Jjigae Soup Base

Instructions

  • Cook the aromatics, pork, and vegetables. In a small pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the yellow onion and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add the pork, kimchi, and mushrooms and cook until the pork is cooked through about 5 minutes.
  • Add the soup base. Then add the anchovy broth, kimchi brine, sugar, gochugaru, gochujang, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and then cover and lower the heat to low or medium-low heat for a gentle simmer for 10-12 minutes.
  • Add sesame oil, tofu, and green onions, and serve. Then add the sesame oil and tofu and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Season with salt. Garnish with the green onion and serve immediately with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Make the anchovy broth before you begin the kimchi stew. Cook the anchovy broth first before you begin cooking the kimchi jjigae.
  • Use well-fermented old kimchi. For the richest kimchi flavor, be sure to use well-fermented old kimchi which is typically labeled mukeunji (묵은지).
  • Taste to adjust! You may need to adjust the amount of sugar and salt based on your flavor profile.
  • For more spice, add more gochugaru. If you want to kick the spice level from mild/medium to hot then add more gochugaru.
  • Simmer slowly: simmer the kimchi jjigae over low to medium-low heat. This allows the flavor to meld together and develop more depth.

Nutrition:

Calories: 800kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 66g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 30g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 4442mg | Potassium: 933mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 4132IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 141mg | Iron: 7mg

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