Kimchi Jjigae (Korean Kimchi Soup)

READY IN: 40mins
Recipe by Emily Han

{Don't be afraid of the steps/ingredients! It's really quite easy.} A delectable, SPICY traditional soup full of kimchi, tofu, veggies, and pork (but can be made vegetarian). My absolute favorite Korean dish of all time; I can eat it 24/7! Kimchi is available at Asian markets; I recommend buying the homemade variety wherever possible. If you buy a shelf-bottled kimchi (non-refrigerated), or your fresh kimchi has just been made (i.e. newer than 2-3 weeks), you should add a couple of teaspoons of white vinegar to your kimchi, stir and let it sit 10 mins, and then chop it up for use. The vinegar acts as an instant fermenter and will make it taste a LOT better. Don't skip this step, trust me :) Also, the chili flakes and paste should be the true Korean variety; the Chinese, Thai or regular cayenne pepper will not work. Please let me know if you have suggestions or questions! I have adjusted this recipe over time-Koreans don't use recipes (frustrating!)-to suit my taste. DH loves it too. Beware though, it's truly Korean in that it's very spicy for most. For more detailed step-by-step instructions, including pictures, please mail me and I can send them to you.

Top Review by CPT Cas

Good recipe. I used a lesser amount of kimchee (homemade, extremely spicy, and very sour at three months old) made from Chinese cabbage, Korean coarse sea salt, daikon, Korean coarse dry red chili flakes, ginger root, fish sauce, scallions and lots of garlic). Instead of pork, I made a broth using about a tablespoon of dry, granular, Korean fish base which is similar to Japanese bonito flakes except much more concentrated. I slowly stewed the kimchee in this broth using twice the amount of garlic called for in the recipe and a small amount of sesame oil, a teaspoon or so of Thai fish sauce, and some shallot when the kimchi was stewed enough. I put two handfuls of Korean rice cakes (a refrigerated rice product cut into coin-shapes available at Korean foodstores) into the rather thin broth and cooked according to package directions. Extremely hot (due to my extra spicy kimchi), sour, wonderful.

Ingredients Nutrition

  • Ingredients for soup

  • 18 lb pork loin (omit for vegetarian)
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 3 pinches black pepper
  • 1 cup sour kimchee (cut into 1x1, reserve juice)
  • 14 white onion, cut into slices
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 14 cup mushroom (regular or shiitake)
  • 3 tablespoons sliced anaheim green chili peppers
  • 1 cup tofu (extra firm, cut into 1/4-inch slices)
  • 1 12 cups water
  • vegetable oil, to coat small pan
  • Ingredients for Base

  • 4 teaspoons korean chili flakes (gochugaru)
  • 2 teaspoons korean chili paste (gochujang)
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 12 teaspoon minced garlic (fresh or bottled, just not dried)
  • 4 pinches black pepper


  1. Cut up vegetables, kimchi and tofu and set aside.
  2. Rinse meat, cut into thin strips 1-2" long.
  3. Marinate meat in rice wine with two pinches black pepper for 15 minutes (you can use your stew pot for this).
  4. Meanwhile, add vegetable oil to pan or wok and cook kimchi on medium-high until done (usually 5-7 minutes). Stir consistently. Kimchi will turn slightly translucent.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine soup base ingredients and mash together.
  6. Add vegetables, kimchi, soup base and water to the pot with the meat, leaving out the tofu. Use kimchi juice as part of the water if extracted.
  7. Bring to a boil; leave on a rolling boil until meat is cooked or about 5 minutes, being careful not to let water boil away.
  8. Taste soup for adjustments; add water as needed, or make extra soup base if needed.
  9. As soon as the meat is done, turn the heat down to low, add the tofu slices.
  10. Stir gently, serve with rice (your mouth will be hot -- I like to use rice that is room-temp!).

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