Chamchi Kimchi Jigae
Spicy kimchi stew with tuna
Kimchi, essentially fermented spicy Korean pickles, is a superfood to be reckoned with. Rich in probiotics, it is laden with good bacteria – lactobacillus kimchii – that is beneficial for improving both heart and gut health. Consumed regularly, it boosts the body’s defence against invading bacteria. Although commonly served as a side, kimchi often steals the limelight as a one-pot stew. While pork or ham is traditionally the preferred protein, Koreans also opt for canned tuna. Sip a smooth Kuehiji sake while savouring this stew.
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4 persons
A: Oil, Aromatics
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1 large white onion, peeled and cut into eights
B: Stew Ingredients
300g canned tuna in chunks
500g kimchi, sliced or whole
400g Swiss brown/white button mushrooms, quartered
C: Optional Ingredients
300g semi-firm tofu, diced
200g bean sprouts
1 fresh egg
1 generous teaspoonful Japanese miso paste, white or red
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar to taste
Fresh dill or parsley, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fried shallots
1. Heat up olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Toss in garlic and onion. Cook until they turn brown. Transfer to casserole or stewing pot.
Note: White or yellow onion is sweeter and less spicy than its purple counterpart.
2. Place kimchi into stewing pot. Bring mixture to a quick boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. While waiting for the stew to boil, heat up a frypan; sauté mushrooms until they shrink to half their size – this expels moisture from the fungi so that the stew will not be too watery. Note: As both white button and Swiss brown mushrooms are similar apart from their colour, use a combination of both if desired.
Alternatively, transfer mushrooms directly to stewing pot. Add tofu and beansprouts if desired.
4. Tip in entire contents of tuna. Cook another 5 minutes.
5. For an umami boost, stir miso paste into the stew until it is incorporated.
6. Turn off heat. Leave pot to cool down on the stove, approximately 5 minutes. If you like, crack an egg on top of the stew.
7. Garnish with E ingredients before serving. Enjoy stew on its own or with steamed rice. A glass of great soju would do nicely to geonbae with your dining companion.
DRINK: Chilled spirits make a great accompaniment! It is a good counterfoil to the mild spiciness of kimchi. Select your soju or sake from the Spirit Guide’s recommendations in Never Forsake A Great Sake!
BUYING TIPS: Canned tuna can either be packed in water or oil; and chunky is preferred for a meaty bite. Sweet and spicy kimchi is suitable for this dish.
TECHNIQUE: As kimchi stews with the onion, garlic and mushrooms, it gradually becomes less acidic as it absorbs the sweet flavours of aromatics and fungi. Miso paste is the star ingredient that binds everything together into a harmonious symphony of flavours.
Photos: John Bo