Tuna Kimchi Jjigae is definitely in my list of Korean comfort food.
Kimchi Jjigae – for many Korean families – is a stew that’s eaten regularly…
With leftovers being re-heated for breakfast (yes, Kimchi from the morning!)
And any last bits being reheated for dinner. (yes, it tastes better with each boil!)
In Korea, Kimchi Jjigae is typically made with either (a) pork or (b) tuna.
Personally, I find myself making tuna kimchi jjigae more often. That’s because there’s always a can of tuna in my pantry.
Note: If you didn’t grow up eating canned foods - you may be slightly ambivalent about this recipe.
But rest assured, one sip of this Kimchi stew and you’ll realize why it makes sense 😉
Now, to be honest, I’m always nervous about putting up recipes with Kimchi as a main ingredient.
That’s because everybody’s Kimchi tastes so different!
From a recipe creator standpoint, it’s difficult to write how much seasoning to add – as I don’t know how spicy or salty your kimchi is.
But today, we’ll add a step that balances flavors and makes any Kimchi (yes, even store-bought Kimchi) taste amazing!
We will stir-fry the Kimchi at high-heat with soy sauce and gochujang!
This will guarantee that deep, restaurant-style flavor!
I’m so excited to share this recipe with you – it’ll become your go-to recipe for Kimchi Jjigae!
Cooking notes for Tuna Kimchi Jjigae
Most important - you want to be using aged Kimchi (as opposed to freshly-made Kimchi, aka Geotjeori).
Kimchi - as it ferments –develops a sour taste. The more time it sits in your refrigerator, the more sour it becomes. It’s this sourness that makes for a proper Kimchi Soup or Stew.
Not everybody – including myself – has Kimchi throughout the year.
If you’re at the Korean supermarket, ask the staff to help you find Well-Fermented Kimchi (or point to this text - 잘익은 김치).
Or you can also use Very Well-Fermented Kimchi (known as 묵은지).
When stir-frying the kimchi, remember to add-in ONLY the oil from the tuna can (not the tuna chunks!).
If you add the chunks in from the beginning, they will disintegrate into the soup – can’t find them later when you’re eating!
We'll add 1 Tablespoon of Gochugaru Flakes - to get that iconic red color (nobody wants an orange-colored stew... give me the red!)
Now, don’t forget to add in that 1 Tablespoon of Korean Anchovy Fish Sauce (this adds that deep flavor to the soup)
Finally, Kimchi Jjigae (for newbies) is not something you eat by itself. Serve it alongside a bowl of fresh rice.
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(P.s. If you’re cooking alone, don’t get bored. Listen to our latest podcast episode while you cook!)
- 1 Cup of Aged Kimchi (Should taste slightly sour)
- ¼ Whole Onion
- 1 Tablespoon Gochujang Paste
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 1 Can of Tuna (~150 grams)
- 2.5 Cups Water (~625 ml)
- 1 Tablespoon Gochugaru Flakes
- 1 Tablespoon Korean Anchovy Fish Sauce (or substitute with 1T of Soy Sauce)
- ½ Tablespoon Minced Garlic
Additional Toppings for Kimchi Jjigae
- ½ Block Firm Tofu (~175 grams)
- ½ a whole Cheongyang Chili Pepper (optional - can skip)
- Finger-length piece Spring Onion Stalk
- Few cracks Black Pepper
- Chop some well-aged Kimchi. Cut enough to fill 1 cup - and set it aside for later. (Note: Pour any leftover kimchi juice on your cutting board into the cup as well).
- Dice ¼ a whole onion into thin strips.
- Cut a finger-length piece of spring onion stalk into thin circles.
- Optional: Cut ½ a whole Cheongyang Chili Pepper into thin circles. (Substitute with ¼ a whole Jalapeno Pepper.)
- Place the chopped Kimchi and sliced onions into a large pot or wok.
- Add-in Gochujang Paste (1 Tablespoon).
- Followed by Soy Sauce (1 Tablespoon).
- Then carefully open a can of tuna. Press the lid against the tuna and add-in only the oil at this point! (We'll add-in the actual tuna chunks at the end.)
- Place the pot on medium-high heat. Once it starts to sizzle, set a timer for 4 minutes! Stir-fry for 4 minutes - and remember to continuously stir (or else it will burn).
Add Water & Make Kimchi Jjigae
- After 4 minutes of stir-frying, add in 2.5 cups (~625 ml) of water.
- Use a wooden spatula and scrape off any bits on the side of the pot into the soup.
- Now add-in Gochugaru Flakes (1 Tablespoon).
- Followed by Korean Anchovy Fish Sauce (1 Tablespoon). (Note: You can also substitute the Fish Sauce with 1T of Soy Sauce).
- Once it comes to a boil, add in Minced Garlic (½ Tablespoon).
- Then, add-in the by Sliced Chili Peppers as well as a few cracks of Black Pepper.
- Now let this soup boil away for 2 minutes!
- After 2 minutes, carefully add the sliced tofu pieces to one side of the pot. Then garnish the other side with the spring onion slices to the other side.
- Finally scoop the tuna into the middle of the pot.
- Let everything boil away for a final 1 minute - all the flavors will come together!
- Bon Appetit - serve with a bowl of hot rice!
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