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.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- After washing and removing dirty end tips, add soybean sprouts and cover with lid; cook for about 10 minutes on medium setting.
- 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).