Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cooking: Braised Pork Shoulder Kimchi Jiggae (김치 찌개)

     I love kimchi jiggae. One of my favorite versions has thick cut pork belly in it that is super tender and full of flavor. This of course goes great with soju. The only issue I have is that there is never enough meat for my tastes. So I decided to make my own ULTIMATE MEATY KIMCHI JIGGAE!!
It involves a braised pork shoulder and is prepared overnight. It's very very good.
Here's what you'll need.
  • Half of a Pork Shoulder
  • 1 1/2 - 2 onions
  • Soft Tofu (찌개 should be on the package)
  • Kimchi (At least half a head, maybe more)
  • One bottle of Soju (optional)
  • Mushrooms (any kind, optional)

   Step one is what sets my kimchi jiggae apart from all of the others is that mine involves braising half of a pork shoulder in the soup, making for a wonderfully tender meaty experience. So the first thing you'll have to do is sear your meat on all sides. I did this right in the same giant (stock) pot that I was going to be using for the soup.

     You don't need to use much oil as the fat will start to render off of the meat fairly quickly. Once you get some good color on there, you're going to deglaze the pot using the bottle of soju. Some people like to remove the meat while they deglaze the pot, but there's no need to for this recipe.

      Yeah, I used the whole bottle of soju. You could alternatively use white wine, vegetable stock or *shudder* water if you absolutely have to. Make sure you scrape up all of the brown bits (not burnt hopefully) at the bottom of the pan. The soju was clear going in notice that it has color now. you can turn the heat to low and just leave this alone for a while. Now we have to cut the kimchi.

     I used kimchi from a giant box of it that I got out of my kimchi refrigerator. You know that giant refrigerator that you have in your kitchen that was specifically designed for and only purpose is to hold kimchi? What? You don't have one of those? You should get one. Here's what mine looks like.

     Anyway, back to the kimchi. If you don't have kimchi from your kimchi refrigerator (what's wrong with you?) then store-bought is fine.

     On my laughably small cutting board, I've cut the kimchi into bite sized squares. One half of the kimchi near the rind will be thick, throw this half (rind too) into the pot with a roughly diced onion (no pic, figure it out) and your mushrooms of choice. I used Paengi mushrooms (팽이버섯).
Save this softer kimchi in container in the fridge.

      Make sure that you add all of the juice from the kimchi to the pot. I also added about two cups of water, you might need to add more or less, just make sure the meat is about 66%-75% submerged. DON"T ADD SALT! The kimchi and kimchi juice is already very salty, so if you add salt now (you probably won't need to later either) then your soup will end up way to salty. Now this is the tortuous part. you need to cover this and let it simmer on a low heat (simmer, not boil) for about 3-4 hours depending on how thick your meat is.

     I cooked mine for about three and a half hours, I could push a fat wooden chopstick straight through the meat, that's how tender it was. If you look at the picture you'll notice that theres a layer of fat sitting on top that's about a centimeter thick. You could try to skim this off but that's a mistake. Just let the pot cool for a while and throw the whole thing in the fridge overnight. The flavors will really come together and the fat will be super easy to take out.

     Wow, look at that fat. Before and after are pretty different, huh? When your ready for dinner just go ahead and add the kimchi that you saved from yesterday as well as another 1/2 an onion, bring it to a boil and then let it simmer for 20 minutes. Keep it uncovered today.

     I used some kitchen shears and cut the meat into cubes before it got too soft. At this point you're pretty much done. Here are a few final tips.
  •  If you think that you need to add salt (you shouldn't have to) then add some at this point.  Soy sauce would be even better. Only if you have to, mind you.
  • If you think that your soup is too watery then you can add some flour, but make sure to let it boil for at least 20 minutes more if you do this, otherwise your soup will only taste of flour. 
  • And if for some reason your soup lacks flavor, add more kimchi and boil for 20 minutes more.
     Now for the final step. This soup is meant to be eaten out of the same bowl by everyone at the table. Obviously a stock pot is not going to cut it. So I transferred some of the soup to a smaller earthenware pot, added some sliced tofu, and brought that pot to a boil before serving.

     Here's the final product. I just added a dash of red pepper flakes and it was done. I served it with some fried eggs (kimchi + eggs = awesome) and bowls of rice of course. I believe this is honestly the best kimchi jiggae ever. Try it out!


  1. Wow that's a large hunk of meat you have. And you really know to use it. do you give private sessions?

    1. Lol, I think that the instructions provided serve well enough!