The woman behind the counter at Duri, a new Korean shop and cafe in Ealing Common, was looking interested in what I was purchasing. In an attempt to explain, I said that I was making kimchi jjigae at home.

Kimchi Jjigae

“Wwoooaaaaahhhh! Kimchi jjigae?!” She looked again at what she was just about to place into a plastic bag. Kimchi. Gochujang. Choco Pies (ahem, not for the jjigae). “You also need tofu.”

I waved my other plastic bag at her, having purchased some at the nearby Japanese shop Natural Natural. She burst into a big smile, finished up with my order, and sent me off with further approval of kimchi jjigae. Apparently they served some the other day and it sold out quickly.

Yes, kimchi jjigae, or kimchi stew, is delicious and as it’s served piping hot, it’s perfect for a cold night (and surely you know those). I reckon it’s also a gentle introduction to kimchi if you’re a bit nervous of it. All that’s required on the side is some white rice. Slurp.

Kimchi Jjigae

Kimchi Jjigae
serves 2.

200g pork tenderloin (or belly), thinly sliced
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium sized onion, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 loose cupful of kimchi, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 cups water
1-2 tbsps gochujang
1 block of soft tofu (silken, if possible)
3 spring onions, chopped
salt to taste

Heat a pot over medium heat and pour in the sunflower oil when it is hot. Add the onion and fry until it has softened. Add the garlic and stir fry for another minute. Add the sliced pork and again fry until cooked. Toss in the kimchi, fry for another minute, and then add the water and bring it all to a boil.

Stir in the gochujang (add to taste) and reduce the temperature so it all simmers away happily. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes though longer wouldn’t hurt it at all. Cut the block of silken tofu into cubes and carefully drop them into the pot. Stir them in gently and leave to simmer for another 5 minutes. Add salt to taste (you may not need any – I found mine fine as is) and throw in the spring onions at the end. Serve piping hot with white rice on the side.