Monday, 12 September 2011

Kimchi Stew

Kimchi Jiggae (aka stew) is a popular Korean dish.  I ate this stew nearly daily when I lived in Seoul and it is honestly one of the only dishes on earth I could eat everyday for the rest of my life.  It's hot, spicy, and comforting, usually served with white rice and a variety of side dishes.

Because I am attempting a meat free Monday I will be skipping the pork or tuna options that are typically prepared.  My favourite way to do this was always with a full can of tuna stirred in known as Cham Chee Kimchi Jiggae.

Kimchi stew is best prepared with older, "ripe" kimchi.  Perfect for using up the rest of the jar that's been sitting in your fridge.  However, it's fine to make with fresh kimchi as well and won't make a huge difference to how it turns out.

2-3 cups kimchi (pickled spicy napa cabbage)
1tbsp sugar
1tsp korean hot pepper flakes (optional)
1tbsp hot pepper paste (gochujang) (optional)
1/2  package of medium firm tofu cut in cubes
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
5 cloves of chopped garlic
Drizzle of sesame oil
Salt and Pepper

Put the kimchi in a medium sized pot and cut with kitchen scissors into bite sized pieces.  Alternatively, chop the kimchi before adding to the pot. Fill pot with water, approximately 6 cups.  Add onion and garlic and bring to a boil.  Cook stew for about 20 minutes, adding tofu, sugar, and hot pepper flakes and paste if using. This is also where I would normally add a can of tuna, so if you are eating fish or it's the weekend and you're a weekday vegetarian  Continue cooking for 5 more minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and add chopped green pepper for garnish.  Just before serving drizzle with a small amount of sesame oil and stir in.

Serve with steamed rice. White, short grained rice works best here, but brown short grain is a fine substitute.  I really enjoy eating this with a package of toasted seaweed, wrapping the seaweed around the rice as a nice salty, crunchy addition.

This meal is incredibly cheap.  The kimchi is probably the most expensive thing on the ingredients list, but it lasts FOREVER.  It doesn't go bad, but will sit in the back of your fridge and ripen until you're ready to make the next batch.

I have enjoyed my weekday vegetarianism.  I have had moments of disappointment during the week, particularly at work when I was offered some Pakistani Palau (Spiced Chicken and Rice) on Friday and was starving, but decided to eat around the chicken and leave the chicken-ey rice bits for Saturday afternoon. Other than moments such as these, I'm feeling happier and much less sleepy-full when my meals are finished.  I actually have the energy to go out and do things and have been biking, swimming, and heading the the beach as these summer days dwindle. I really do enjoy the challenge of finding really good tasting food that's not trying to be meat (read: no veggie patties or meatless chicken bits) and making it taste incredible.  I can only imagine that my cooking will get better with time and I'm really enjoying saving money on not buying meat and eating at restaurants during the week.

Life, simplified.

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