The first time that I had this soup was with my glamorous friend, Euriele. At the time we both worked together in Palo Alto. One day we just took a long lunch break and feasted on an authentic Korean meal with multiple courses: kimchi soup, pickled cucumber, bean sprout, rice cooked with beans, Napa cabbage kimchi, Korean seafood pancake, seaweed salad and other items I don’t recall right now. There were so many! The centerpiece of the lunch was the spicy soup served piping hot in a stoneware pot. You cracked a fresh egg over the soup and watched it cook while at the same time you waited for the soup to cool down enough to eat. I love spicy food. That said, some Korean dishes are not for beginners when it comes to chili pepper intensity. This soup is an exciting and hot example.

spicy kimchi soup aka Kimchi Jiigae

spicy kimchi soup aka Kimchi Jiigae

To make my kimchi jiigae, I used the rest of the Napa cabbage kimichiI had prepared the previous week.

This recipe was adapted from this you tube video. The video uses meat, so I changed it here. If you’re vegetarian then no need to watch it 🙂

spicy kimchi soup aka Kimchi Jiigae

1lb silken tofu (extra soft type) chopped into 1x1x1 inch thick pieces
5 cups chopped kimchi and juices
1tsp sugar
1tbsp Korean Gochugaru hot pepper paste
1tbsp Gochugaru pepper flakes
½ cup red onion chopped
3 whole scallions chopped
Water to cover the chopped kimchi by two inches
Toasted sesame oil
½ head iceberg lettuce cut into large wedges

Place chopped kimchi and juices in a large sauce pan with onions, scallions, gochugaru peppers, sugar and water. Bring everything to a boil, cook on high for about 10 minutes, reduce temperature to medium and continue cooking for another 20 minutes. Add tofu towards the last 10 minutes.

Place a wedge of iceberg in each bowl. Add a couple of ladles of the soup, and drizzle with some toasted sesame oil. Serve with a side of rice.


This yummy recipe comes from The Kimchi Chronicles by Marja Vongerichten, a marvelous and very accessible Korean cookbook. Marja writes that she learned this recipe from her husband, who apparently first discovered it on a visit to a small island off the southern coast of Korea, called Jeju.

Korean kimchi seafood bouillabaisse AKA haemul jeongol

Korean kimchi seafood bouillabaisse AKA haemul jeongol

I love bouillabaisse-style seafood soups with flavorful clear broths, though this is not your typical one at all. This turned out lively with a powerful spicy and sour flavor. Somewhat reminiscent of Thai bouillabaisse this one does not use the aromatic herbs, galangal root, lemon grass and kafir lime leaves. But the umma paste gives it wonderful flavor.

I used store-bought kimchi this time but for the next, I want to make my own.

store-bought kimchi

store-bought kimchi

Korean kimchi seafood bouillabaisse AKA haemul jeogol

3 cups chopped kimichi with juices
8 cups water
1 small onion, cut into large cubes
6 Korean radish (moo) or daikon root sliced thin, ~ 2 cups
1 bunch watercress
3 tbsp umma paste
2 tbsp fish sauce
½ tsp sugar
10 clams
10 mussels
6 shrimp
1 piece red snapper

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan, add chopped kimichi and boil for about 5 minutes. Add moo, umma paste, fish sauce, sugar and salt and cook for 8-10 minutes. Adjust flavor with more salt, fish sauce or even umma paste. Add fish and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove fish and keep warm. Add clams and mussels and let them cook until they open. Discard unopened shells. Turn temperature to low, add shrimp, fish and watercress. Turn heat off, keep it covered until watercress has wilted and shrimp turn pink. Serve and enjoy!


vegetarian kimchi fried rice

by Heguiberto on October 20, 2009

With all of this kimchi that I made last week, it’s like we’ve been running the kimchi marathon, sort of like the spinach version from the spring. Maybe I should really say the kimchi Olympics to show my Brazilian pride. Yeah Rio de Janeiro 2016!

kimchi fried rice with optional fried egg

kimchi fried rice with optional fried egg

Besides the regular baechu kimchi, we made a wonderful silken tofu kimchi stiry fry and now this classic—sort of—kimchi fried rice dish. Even after these three, we’ve got about two pints of kimchi left, so who knows what that will be next? I hear that kimchi ripens as it ages. Apparently it’s the younger ones that are best from the jar and it’s recommended that you cook with the more aged ones, as the flavor tends to get more and more intense. My kimchi is now on its 15th day. I had a big sample of it yesterday while making the fried rice. And no, I am still alive and in good health for all you kimchi naysayers out there in the blog-iverse. I think that the ginger and garlic are most accentuated now while the heat from the chili peppers is fading. So next time, I’ll add more chili and less ginger and garlic. Live and learn. And as Julia Child famously said about cooking, ‘never apologize!” The cabbage is still crunchy and bubbly. I’m quite pleased with it myself. Yum! Maybe I will try making some kimchi soup with the cold fall weather on its way…

This recipe is “almost vegan” because I decided to add a fried egg on top for some extra protein, plus I was just feeling like having a fried egg. The egg is obviously optional, so leave it out if you have health concerns or don’t particularly like fried eggs. For more protein you can add some garden peas or even fresh fava beans for an East meets West version.

homemade kimchi

homemade kimchi

I love rice in almost any form and this dish is no exception. The kimchi rice tasted simply divine and went well with the mushroom tofu that Steven made to accompany it. The toasted sesame oil adds some earthiness and smokiness to make it incredibly good!

Vegetarian Kimchi Fried Rice

2 cups Thai Jasmine rice
¾ cup chopped kimchi with some of the juices
1 shallot chopped fine
1 & ½ cup broccoli florets and stems chopped same size and blanched
1 to 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp nutritional yeast
¼ tsp chili powder (I used Cayenne)
Pinch of salt
Fresh black pepper to taste
Egg (optional)

How to:

To prepare rice:

Rinse rice in running water for about a minute. Add to a medium sized pot with add 1 & ¾ cup of water and cover. Bring to boil then lower to simmer and cook rice till water is fully absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir a couple of times during the cooking process to prevent sticking. Remove from heat and leave covered for about 5 minutes to rest.

Add oil to a wok or in my case a non-stick paella pan over high heat. Add shallot and sauté for a minute or so till translucent. Add rice and broccoli, soy sauce, sugar, nutritional yeast, black pepper, salt and cayenne, and keep stirring. Add chopped Kimchi. Allow the rice mixture to warm through. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving platter. To fry the egg(s), use a non stick pan, add a dash of oil, break egg over it and cook on low temp for a couple of minutes. Remove and place it over rice.

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silken tofu kimchi stir fry

by Heguiberto on October 14, 2009

Silken tofu has a rich velvety texture that makes me think of whipped cream or maybe cream cheese. It has a nutty taste alone and absorbs basically any other flavors. It’s perfect for stir fry! We’ve made this dish before with store bought kimchi. This time around it was with my own homemade version! I know, I know! I can hardly believe that I made my own kimchi either!

kimchi tofu

kimchi tofu

This dish is very easy to make, has a lot of flavor and is rich in protein and fiber.

Silken Tofu Kimchi Stir Fry

1 container of silken tofu sliced into large cubes
1 ½ cup of kimchi with juices
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce

How to:
Soak tofu in warm salt water for 10 to 20 minutes to add more flavor. Drain and rinse.

Heat olive oil in a skillet then add garlic and tofu. Brown slightly for a few minutes per side. Slide in kimchi. Add soy sauce and fold vegetables and tofu together. Cover and allow to warm through.

Serve with rice. Try it with a crisp chardonnay, like we did!

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homemade baechu kimchi

by Heguiberto on October 12, 2009

homemade baechu kimchi

homemade baechu kimchi

I have always been fascinated by kimchi. And I’ve been curious about making it at home but never got around doing it till last week. The reason I didn’t try it before is that I was afraid I was going to mess something up in the process of making it, thereby poisoning myself and the entire household. But then I read this inspiring book, Wild Fermentation, and decided that it was about time for me to overcome my phobia!

Some foods are preserved with salt or sugar, vinegar or dried by the Sun or with cold air. Well, fermentation is just another way of preservation. Think wine! It breaks down enzymes your body would not otherwise digest from certain foods(e.g soy beans); it lends additional layers of flavors and texture to foods; it adds nutritious elements to the food; and it helps you get through periods where fresh food might be scarce (well not so much nowadays as food keeps traveling across oceans).

I was surprised as to how easy it was to make kimchi. Now I’ve got a big jar of it in the fridge, waiting. Last Friday Steven made a beautiful sautéed tofu dish with my homemade kimchi. That was good.

Because it is Fall, I opted to make the traditional baechu kimchi. Baechu is the name for Napa Cabbage in Korean but the word is also related to the way this particular kimchi is made.

I am a bit sensitive to smells and kimchi has this pungent aroma that rings bells in my brain signaling me to ‘chuck this thing away immediately!’ It’s spoiled! I am sure everybody has issues with certain food smells here and there… think of anchovies, fish sauce, shrimp paste or preserved tofu, all stinky but extremely healthy. My sister-in-law hates the smell of alcohol so abstains from all wine, beer and spirits. Poor girl! I have to admit, that I struggle with the smell of certain wines. I could not conceive the idea of living without so many dishes that you can make with these amazing legacy ingredients left to us from our ancestors. Don’t be shy, give it a try!

Here’s my recipe adapted from the book:

Homemade Baechu Kimchi

1 medium Napa cabbage, rinsed and roughly chopped
2 carrots cut into fine strips
1 bunch of red radishes rinsed and sliced
6 tbsp of sea salt
1 large onion cut into chunks
8 cloves of garlic (or more)
1 (or more) red Poblano pepper, seeds removed
3 (or more) red Jalapeño peppers, seeds partially removed
5 tbsp fresh grated ginger

How to:
Fill two deep salad bowls with cold water. Add equal amounts of salt to them and mix till dissolved. Add Napa cabbage, carrots and radishes and cover with a plate to soak for 4-6 hours making sure veggies are submerged at all times. Drain vegetables (do not discard the brine). Taste. The Napa cabbage should already be slightly tender at this point. It should be salty but not too salty. If too salty rinse some with cold water.

fresh ingredients for kimchi

fresh ingredients for kimchi

Add peppers, garlic and grated ginger to food processor and pulse to form a smooth paste. Add onion and pulse till smooth. Transfer pepper paste to vegetables and mix well. Stuff veggies into a clean 2 liter glass jar. Press them down to add as much as possible. Veggies must be completely submerged at all times. If needed, add a bit of brine just to top off. Using a small zip lock bag, fill it with some brine and place it on top of the veggies as a weight.

Let jar stand at room temperature till ready for use. San Francisco is not that warm so it took about six days. If you live somewhere warm, taste it every day for doneness as it’s likely to be ready sooner. When it’s sufficiently ripened, move jar to the fridge for longer term storage.

Eat your kimchi as a side dish with your meals. Mine turned out fairly mild so I’ll add more pepper next time. I am super proud of my first kimchi! I will definitely experiment with different veggies and roots in the future.

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