The Joy of Leftovers 23 March 2015: Kimchi jjigae

Dear readers, 안녕하세요!

It’s high time I got back to writing about my domestic escapades. Although the weather has been dreadfully humid these past few days – summer storms are coming – and I would eat chilled foods meal after meal if I could, I couldn’t resist cooking this one dish for supper tonight because of the Joy of Leftovers. Last night, we came from a Japanese-Korean restaurant, and being a Korean restaurant, it would serve lots of banchan, the numerous side dishes characteristic of Korean dining. Well, we got so much that I decided to take home the kimchi, the sesame green beans, and the sweet-and-spicy anchovies – a regret that I did not think of bringing my food containers as I did not expect we would go there.

Photo Copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

Photo Copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

Although I ate some of all three for breakfast, I decided to become more ambitious in using up my leftovers. Now, kimchi plus vegetables plus the usual inventory at home… equals kimchi soup! Or, to be more specific about it, kimchi jjigae (김치찌개)jjigae being a kind of stew.

With the presence of kimchi, making a homemade version of kimchi jjigae was really simple. However, to maximize the taste of the kimchi, I decided that a slow-cook method would work best, which is usually the better method for soups and stews in general anyway in my opinion. So I began with my usual frying of ginger and leek before adding some chicken broth, then the kimchi itself. I also had a pork chop sliced the sukiyaki cut, then added them to the soup. To add to the flavor, I added a green chili and a pinch of salt. Too bad I didn’t have any tofu, which is usual for kimchi jjigae.

Photo Copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

Photo Copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

To effectively cook everything, you should bring it to a boil first, and this is what I did to my soup for the sake of the pork – we don’t want to risk any poisoning here. After the pork had been thoroughly cooked – it cooked quicker now that it had been cut into thin slices – I finally turned the heat down to a simmer and covered the pot. Now, I was supposed to keep it for only two hours, but it went on to three because of a sudden errand. No matter. After my errand, I turned the heat back on to full and added some of the sesame green beans. It’s only now that I realized, very belatedly at that, that I forgot to add my Korean sesame seaweed shavings, which I needed to use as much as I could as it was already two years in our fridge (it was quite a lot).

Of course, a meal-in-a-bowl this spicy and meat-laden should be cushioned with rice, and rice I did have. Since I slow-cooked my jjigae, I took the opportunity to ask for brown rice to be prepared, since it takes about an hour to soak and cook it properly.

Photo Copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

Photo Copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

Before this, I last ate kimchi jjigae in 2014, and I don’t even remember when anymore. So the taste as I slurped the soup into my mouth was like meeting an old friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. True, it wasn’t as spicy or tangy as properly-cooked kimchi jjigae, but this is just fine for my solo treat.

Kimchi Jjigae

Serves 1

(1/2 tbsp.) sesame oil
(1 inch) ginger, bruised and minced
(1) leek, sliced
(2 cups) broth, chicken or vegetable
(2-3 rolls) cabbage kimchi
(1) pork chop, sliced thinly
(1) green chili, chopped
(1/4 tsp.) salt
(1/4 cup) green beans, sliced thinly
seaweed, for garnish

Heat the oil in a soup pan over medium-high heat, then add the ginger and leek, stirring until the leek has softened.

Add in the broth, kimchi, pork, chili (remove the seeds if you do not wish the stew to be as spicy), and salt, and bring to a boil. Once the pork is thoroughly cooked, turn down to a simmer, cover the pan, and leave for about 2-3 hours.

Turn the heat back to medium-high and add the beans, stirring until thoroughly cooked.

Serve hot and topped with seaweed, alongside rice.
Photo Copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

Photo Copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

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