Friday, January 2, 2009

Kimchi Jigae II

I loosely based this on the recipe by Maangchi. You can watch her video for kimchi jigae on Youtube. I changed some things. Kimchi jigae is one of those dishes that can be a little different every time. Greg saw some shitake mushrooms at the grocery store that looked good, so I had those on hand. We also had a red bell pepper that we wound up not using for the Christmas dinner, so I used that too. I bought a 5 pound pork shoulder blade roast that we are having tomorrow, so I cut about half a pound off of it for this soup. Really, I think there are only a few things that you have to have for kimchi jigae- kimchi, gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), water, and onion. You could make a basic soup with just that. It would be simple, but you could do it. Pork would really add to it as would the tofu, sesame oil, and garlic. Maangchi doesn't use egg in her recipe, but my other favorite Youtube Korean cook is aeriskitchen, and she puts egg in her Korean Kimchi Ramon. I tried it, and I liked it.

I don't think this dish photographs well. If I had been thinking about it, I would have sprinkled some green onion on the top to make it look prettier. Well, it is what it is. I must say the end product was delicious. I used firm tofu, but Maangchi likes soft tofu. Also, I've seen many Koreans who slice the tofu in large flat squares not in small cubes like I did. The kimchi that I buy from the Korean store here in town already is coarsely chopped. I did chop some of the larger sections of cabbage into bite sized pieces. In most cooking onion is finely chopped for soup and then sauteed in butter or some kind of oil (except onion soup where the onion is left in rings). Maangchi chops her onion in large strips. Korean cooking is different from what you typically think of. I remember thinking my mom was not very culinary when she boiled soup on the stove, but that is what you do with kimchi jigae. You don't bring it up to a boil, and then turn down the heat to a simmer which is how most cooking is done. You keep it on high heat at a good boil for ten minutes, and then turn it down to medium low, and you still pretty much keep it at a boil.

My mom had a refrigerator in the garage that was dedicated to Korean food. I remember being a little afraid of it. I seldom had to open the door, but when I did, it was always with a little trepidation. I remember always being revolted by a bag of dead, dried up little fish. Now I know what they are for, and I even have a bag of my own. They are boiled and dried anchovies. You use them to make dashi (fish stock). I bought them to make dukboki (see my previous note on that) which is a popular street food in Korea. Since I had some, I thought instead of just adding water to the kimchi jigae, that I would make dashi and use that. It did give a very subtle and enjoyable fish flavor to the soup, so if you have it, great. If not, just use water. If you have guests coming over, I would forgo the dashi. It really smells up the house.

Tae obviously didn't like it (haha!). Thumbs up or thumbs down? Big thumbs up! He really liked the tofu. Baby is a brave one. I told him it was very spicy, but he wanted to try it anyway. He said, "Here goes." He liked it! He drank quite a bit of our special family heavily watered down peach flavored white grape juice to cool his mouth, but he did pretty good with it eating about a third of his bowl before giving up. The pork was very tender. I seared the pork pieces before adding the liquid. Maangchi uses pork belly. One time I did not have any pork, but I did have some bacon drippings in the fridge, so I added some to the soup for flavoring.

Once you master kimchi jigae, you can use the concepts in all kinds of dishes. I made this "Asian Leek Soup" when Puddleglum decided to buy some leeks. He was going to make this one particular dish, but then he changed his mind, and then we had all these great leeks. I started the way you would most soups. I put a tablespoon (or two) of butter into a saute pan, then I added the leeks (which I had washed and chopped). I sauted them until they started to get soft. I think we had some store bought chicken broth in the refrigerator or maybe I just added water (I can't remember now- I took a picture to do a blog post, and then I forgot to type everything out). We had some leftover pan drippings from a roast and also some homemade chicken stock in the freezer, so I threw both bags in. I added a little bit of gochujang and some soy sauce, and I think I put in a little brown sugar for some sweetness. Then I broke a couple of eggs into it like aeriskitchen does. When I plated it, I sprinkled some green onion and cilantro on top, and I served it with lime wedges to squeeze over the soup. Puddleglum really liked it, and I made it completely on the fly with ingredients on hand and things that I learned from Maangchi and aeriskitchen.

Puddleglum's Kimchi Jigae

1 TBSP pure sesame oil
1/2 onion chopped into "strips"
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped or minced
1/2 pound pork (I used shoulder blade roast)
2 TBSP red bell pepper chopped
5 shitake mushrooms sliced
3 green onions sliced thin
2 cups kimchi coarsely chopped (pressed down to 2 cups)
1 TBSP sugar
5 cups dashi* (you can just use water)
1 heaping TBPS of gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
1/2 pkg tofu cut into cubes
1-2 eggs
another drizzle of pure sesame oil (make sure it is brown and not the light colored stuff)

In a large saute pan or small stock pot add the 1 TBSP of sesame oil, onion, and garlic. Saute over high heat. After a couple of minutes add the pork. Stir to sear the outside of the pork for maybe a minute, but don't cook through. Add the red bell pepper, the mushrooms, and the green onion. Stir for a minute or two. Add the kimchi. Stir for another minute or so. Add the dashi (or water) and then the sugar *(to make dashi boil 5 cups of water with eight anchovies for several minutes. Remove and discard the anchovies). You may need to add a little more water to the kimchi jigae depending on how big your saute pan or stock pot is and how "liquidy" you want your soup. Boil on high heat covered for about ten minutes. Turn the heat down to medium/medium low and stir a couple of times. Cook for another ten minutes or so stirring occasionally. Add your eggs. You can beat them in a bowl and then slowly pour into the soup in a circle to form strings or you can break the eggs directly into the soup. If you do that, let the whites cook a little first, and then break your yolks and gently stir. Add your tofu. Cover and cook for another five minutes. Uncover and drizzle a little more sesame oil on top and gently stir. I felt like I wanted to add a little soy sauce at this point. Heck. It's my soup. Why not? I added a little soy sauce and gently stirred.

I made a pot of rice so that if the boys did not like it, they could have rice with soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Jax tasted it, and he liked it all right but not enough to have a whole bowl. He had the rice. I wanted to put a big spoonful of rice in my soup, but I chose to abstain to reduce my carb intake. Who am I trying to kid? I ate Pringles today with the boys. I should have had some rice...

One last note here. For kids who are not used to spice, you could reduce the gochujang to 1 tsp instead of 1 heaping TBSP. You could also "rinse" the kimchi in a strainer under the tap to reduce some of the spice before you add it to the pan. This would make it less spicy.

1 comment:

aeri said...

Hi ^^
Your food story is fun and interesting to read. wow, it's great your son loved your kimchi jjigae, BIG THUMB UP.. ya ~~~ hehe.. so, your mom is Korean? Happy new year. God bless you and your family. Thanks :D