When the temperature drops below 0°C in South Korea, locals recharge with bubbling bowls of jjigae. This hearty Korean stew is the perfect addition to your winter cooking repertoire, loaded with good-for- you vegetables and fermented foods, and available in the full spectrum of flavours, from mild to mouth-scorchingly spicy.
If you’re new to jjigae, or catering for delicate tastebuds, try the mild-tasting doenjang jjigae. Made with doenjang, a fermented soy bean paste that promises a host of health benefits, this virtuous Korean stew is loaded with vegetables and tofu, delivering a much-needed nutrient hit in the cooler months. A hint of spice comes courtesy of fresh green chilli and a sprinkling of gochugaru (Korean red chilli pepper), which you can omit or reduce if you’re serving to young children.
If you want to spice up your life, zero in on this kimchi jjigae recipe instead. This version gets its protein hit from pork belly and firm tofu, with a liberal dose of ripe kimchi and reserved kimchi juice. Another fiery Korean stew is the soonduboo jjigae. Soft tofu is the star of this winter favourite, along with pork mince and shellfish, such as prawns, clams and mussels. Kimchi, gochugaru and green chilli add soul-warming spice to this bubbling broth, ideal for warding off that winter chill.
One of the most intriguing types of jjiage is the budae jjigae. Also known as ‘Korean Army Stew’, this Americanised version of the Korean classic came into being after the Korean War, when food was scarce across the country. Drawing on leftover supplies from the US military bases, this industrious stew uses American foods such as instant ramen noodles, tinned hot dogs, beans and Spam for a salty, savoury stew that’s not for the faint-hearted.
For more winter recipes and cooking ideas, discover 10 quick and easy kimchi dishes for winter.
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