This has been my go-to kimchi jjigage recipe for more than 10 years. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)
Northern Californian winters are all about cold dampness — rain, lots of rain. For me, the only purpose for winter is to get the full benefit of a hot bowl of 김치찌개 kimchi jjigae, or kimchi stew. That’s a dish Koreans commonly make to finish off a jar of kimchi that has become too sour and mostly “juice,” the tangy, spicy, flavorful remnant of pickling.
Kimchi jjigae with 돼지고기 dwaegi gogi (pork), Spam processed ham or 두부 dubu (tofu), are common variations of the dish. Avoiding pork for religious reasons, I was pleased to find 참치김치찌개 chamchi kimchi jjigae, or kimchi stew with tuna, on the menu of a restaurant near Kangwon National University in Chuncheon, a lakeside city in the mountains northeast of Seoul. I first tasted that version in the mid-’90s and have been making it ever since.
Korean grocery stores sell canned tuna specially made for kimchi jjigae, marinated in 고추장 gochujang (Korean red pepper paste). Because tuna is usually chunk light tuna, which has a smell and flavor, albacore canned tuna is my tuna of choice. (But I may have to reconsider after reading this Epicurious article about mercury in albacore.)
Since most canned tuna isn’t packed in gochujang, I add gochujang or 고추가루gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes or powder) to the stew. Gochujang will make the stew thicker; gochugaru, thinner.
Tuna Kimchi Jjigae
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Category: Kimchi, Korean Recipes, Top Posts, Top Posts - Winter
Servings: 1-2 servings
A tasty low-fat version of this Korean classic
1 teaspoon grapeseed or other oil with a high-temperature smoke point
1 cup chopped [amazon_link id="B0035GXXDM" target="_blank" ]kimchi[/amazon_link]
1 can white albacore tuna, packed in water
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups kimchi "juice" (top off with fish or chicken broth)
I'm a writer/blogger for Koreafornian Cooking (USA), the San Francisco Bay Area Editor for ZenKimchi Food Journal (South Korea) and occasionally for WineKorea.asia developing Korean and Korean fusion recipes, and writing articles on the Korean food scene in the San Francisco Bay Area and commentary on Korean food culture. I've written articles for Yonhap News Agency based in South Korea and Plate Magazine, a culinary magazine. My recipes have been featured on Serious Eats/Slice, Foodbuzz.com, New Asian Cuisine, Marxfoods.com and Korea.net.