Kimchi Jjigae w Kongnamul 김치 찌개(Kimchi Stew w Soybean Sprouts)

As much as I love my usual dose of fiery hot, spicy, and meaty kimchi jjigae (at least once a week), one would think you would get tired of it especially in this warm weather (not one bit). But I did do something different by varying the usual combination of kimchi/pork/tofu and opted for something equally as good, substituting the tofu with soybean sprouts (kongnamul), which really gave it a crunchy and satisfying texture. I usually end up eating a lot of kimchi jjigae when there is older and more pungent kimchi available, but this fresher batch that I bought recently at the Korean market worked just as well. Just in case you don’t know, older kimchi that has been fermented longer gives the soup a stronger flavor, thus bringing added depth and taste to the soup. A few months back, my mom made this stew using really old kimchi and regular sliced bacon pieces (not samgyeopsal). I wondered in suspicion if it tasted any good (just by appearance alone–fiery red and plain looking), but couldn’t believe how good the soup tasted with the smokey bacon bits and a bowl of soft, sticky rice. Though it may not be visually appealing, this kimchi/bacon combination was a hit and deserves a future posting.

 

 

Servings: 6~8 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Ingredients:
  • 3 lb pork riblets or spare ribs
  • 4 cups kongnamul (soybean sprouts)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 3, 4 cups kimchi, the older the better
  • 2 cups kimchi liquid (if available)
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece ginger, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp gochujang (red pepper paste)
  • 6 tbsp gochugaru (red pepper flakes)
  • 8 cups of water
  • 3 tbsp dashida (Korean beef stock; optional)
  • 4 scallions, chopped diagonally
  • 3, 4 bay leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 red and green chili pepper, thinly sliced diagonally (garnish)
  • salt to taste
Directions:
  1. In a large pot, cover the pork riblets with water and boil with either bay leaves or a few garlic cloves and onions. Boil for minimum 30 minutes; remove foam and scum that floats to the top with a ladle or spoon. At the end of boiling, drain half of the broth and discard bay leaves; refill with fresh water to cover the riblets a few inches over (more if you like extra soup). Remove pork to cool and cut into individual pieces; return pork to the large pot.
  2. Bring water to a boil adding chopped kimchi and remaining ingredients, save the scallions and soybean sprouts. Cook for another 20 minutes and let sit on medium heat. Sample the broth and adjust accordingly.
  3. After washing and removing dirty end tips, add soybean sprouts and cover with lid; cook for about 10 minutes on medium setting.
  4. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with green and red chili slices (scallions work fine too). Serve hot with a bowl of rice and other banchan (side dishes).
*Kimchi jjigae is very versatile with many variations and substitutions; common meat/protein substitutes include canned tuna, bacon, seafood, beef, and even chicken. Don’t be surprised to see many Koreans eating this soup with only kimchi as the sole ingredient and a bowl of rice for a quick and efficient meal. For me personally, the kimchi, tofu, and pork combination of my childhood will always be number #1.
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