Braised Pork Ribs and Kimchi

Braised-pork-ribs-and-kimchiThere is something about braised food in the winter time. Comforting, and almost earthy, they are what makes you crave when everything is frozen cold outside. And Korean food is not an exception.

Here is one recipe I would like to introduce you. It is Braised Pork Ribs and Kimchi (돼지갈비 김치찜, dueji galbi kimchi jjim). And the kimchi I used in this recipe is called “moogunji (묵은지)”.  Moogunji is very old fermented cabbage kimchi.

If you go to restaurants that are famous for their dishes made with kimchi in Korea, most will use this moogunji to make their dishes extraordinary. Some moogunji is as young as 6 month old, and some can be older than 3 years.

Moogunji kimchi is not ideal to eat as is. It is too potent and sour (sometimes bitter), it’s not enjoyable at all. However this old cabbage kimchi is not going to be thrown away. It is FABULOUS in the braised food.



So, you might think if you let your cabbage kimchi sit in your refrigerator for at least 6 month, it will turn into moogunji automatically. Well, chances are NOT. Moogunji doesn’t come that easily. The cabbages are salted more heavily than ordinary kimchi for longer storage purpose. It ferments very slowly.  It also requires certain level of consistent temperature and complete lockout of air. Well made moogunji kimchi can hold its firm texture with deep fermented flavor for years.

If you store ordinary cabbage kimchi in the refrigerator, usually they taste the best right after it got fermented and hold its prime fermentation for another month or maybe two. However, usually after about 2 month, they become very acidic and mushy in the texture. Any longer it may even become alcoholic if your kimchi is not properly stored.

Traditionally Koreans keep their kimchi in earthen jars to keep in the outdoor, but these days many Korean household uses kimchi refrigerator to stock up their kimchi throughout the year. It keeps kimchi in the most ideal temperature to retain its taste and texture longer than ordinary refrigerator.

Anyway, since moogunji is so wonderful to use in braising, you will find this recipe so delectable. Pork is perhaps the best partner to cook with kimchi, and cooking with pork ribs will maximize its potential. Long simmering will bring out the marrow from the bones and you will taste the best of what Korean kimchi can offer.


tutorial-4Major Korean groceries carry this packaged moogunji. As you can tell the color of kimchi is not as vibrant as a result of its long fermentation. If you can’t find moogunji, use your ordinary cabbage kimchi but make sure it is very sour and potent (Keep it on the counter for a couple of days to speed up)


tutorial-3Make a stock with anchovies, dried sea kelp and a few slices of ginger. Basically you boil them in a water first, then simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the stock and reserve about 2-1/2 cup to use in this recipe. Set aside.


tutorialHere is handsome looking pork rib pieces.


tutorial-2You want to soak them in the water for at least 1 hour to remove some blood.


tutorial-5Then boil a pot of water and briefly cook the ribs for 3 minutes. This will get rid of major fat and unwanted gunk from the bones. Rib meats are quite fatty and you want to reduce its fat amount before you add in the braising process to lower the fat intake. Drain the ribs and rinse with hot water. Set aside.


tutorial-6In a mixing bowl, combine Korean chili flakes, soy bean paste (doenjang), Korean soy sauce for soup (gook-ganjang), garlic, sesame oil, rice wine (optional), and sugar. Mix well.


tutorial-7Dump the ribs into the bowl and coat them with the sauce.


tutorial-8Spread sliced onion on the bottom of a heavy bottom braising pot (such as dutch or french oven).


tutorial-9Scatter the pork ribs on top…


tutorial-10and cover with moogunji. No need to cut. Just put the whole thing as is.


tutorial-11And don’t forget the kimchi juice inside of the package. It is precious like gold.


tutorial-12Pour the reserved stock around…

Note: If your pot doesn’t have a heavy lid, you will need more amount of stock (extra 1/2-1 cup) to make-up for the steam evaporation.


tutorial-13…and cover with a lid. Bring it just about to gentle boil over medium heat, then simmer over low heat for 1 hour. It is a good idea to shake the pot gently once or twice so the liquid will sip through all the nooks and crannies.


tutorial-14Turn the kimchi to the other side and try to jiggle the ribs underneath so they get mixed in with onion. Cover again and continue to simmer for another 45 minutes to 1 hour.


tutorial-15Lastly add green chili (I happened to have some jalapeños so I used them instead), and chopped green onion. Simmer 15 more minutes and you are done.


tutorial-16Oh, boy! This is calling for a bowl of rice.


Braised-pork-ribs-and-kimchiThe moogunji is so tender but retained its body, and the meat from the ribs is melting in your mouth. Oh, the flavor…! I can’t describe in English, but I can tell you that I emptied out two bowls of rice with this.

You might wonder how you eat the whole piece of cabbage. You can cut it with a pair of scissor just like most Korean restaurants do. But in my house? I use the most divine kitchen tool I own – my fingers. I just tear the cabbage with my fingers (my thumbs and index fingers). My mother did this way with kimchi, saying “Kimchi tastes better when you tear them with fingers. Less knife, better taste”. I used to think it was so gross. But I now find myself doing the same action to my kids, saying the exact same words (but in English).

This is the winter Korean comfort on its best and it made me feel like as if I was dining in a small rural town of Korea . How nostalgic…!


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Braised Pork Ribs and Kimchi

Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Serving Size: about 8

Braised Pork Ribs and Kimchi


  • 2-1/2 lb pork ribs
  • 2 lb (1kg) old fermented whole cabbage kimchi (moogunji) with about 1/4 cup of kimchi juice
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Korean chili flakes
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon Korean soy bean paste (doenjang)
  • 1 tablespoon Korean soy sauce for soup (gook-ganjang)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine, optional
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 green chili or jalapeño, sliced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • For the stock
  • 6-7 large dried anchovies
  • 1 large piece dried sea kelp (dashima or konbu)
  • 3-4 fresh ginger slices, 1/4" thick
  • 5 cups water


  1. Soak the pork ribs in a cold water for at least 1 hour. Drain. Bring the pot of water to boiling and add the pork ribs and cook for 3 minutes. This will remove some fat and the unclean gunk from the bones. Drain the ribs and rinse them in hot water. Set aside.
  2. For the stock, put anchovies, sea kelp, ginger in water and bring them to boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Cool and drain the stock reserving about 2-1/2 cups.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine Korean chili flakes, soy bean paste, Korean soy sauce for soup, garlic, sugar, rice wine, and sesame oil; mix well. Add the pork ribs and toss all together.
  4. In a heavy bottom dutch oven pot, spread sliced onion on the bottom and top with pork ribs. Add the whole kimchi to cover the pork on top. Pour the kimchi juice and the reserved stock over the kimchi.
  5. Cover the pot with a lid and bring it on to medium heat to gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Open the lid and turn the kimchi to the other side jiggling the pork ribs and onions underneath. Cover again and continue to simmer for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add the green chili and green onion to the pot and cook for 15 more minutes or so. Serve warm with rice.
  6. Note:
  7. If your pot doesn't have a heavy lid, you will need extra 1/2-1 cup more stock to make-up for the steam evaporation.

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  1. 1

    Micol says

    Dear Holly! I have to tell you that I visited Korea a little over a year ago for work, and came back home to London with a desire to start cooking Korean food. It’s your blog I found, that helped me learn. Your post on pantry essentials was what I went to the Korean supermarket armed with, ready to stock my cupboards. I first cooked your cola braised chicken for my family on Xmas eve 2012. I’m pleased to report that my Korean dishes have become a staple in our house and a huge favourite amongst our friends!
    Thank you, for yet another mouthwatering recipe that I’ll be trying in the next few days!
    Happy new year to you- and thank you again for everything you’ve done to inspire me- it’s changed the way we eat!!

    • 2

      Holly says

      Hi Micol, I remember hearing from you that you and your family enjoyed my cola braised chicken. It did make me happy. I appreciate for your sweet and thoughtful comment. One thing that motivates me to continue blogging is the reason which you wrote. It is my honor and happiness that my recipes can bring a joy to people. Thank you again and Happy New Year to you as well.

  2. 3

    kate-v says

    This does look delicious! I will need to shop for the ingredients, though. One question: is Korean bean paste the same as miso? Though I certainly do not mind buying Korenan bean paste, I have a few types of miso already and wonder if they are the same. Thanks for the great recipe.

    • 4

      Holly says

      Miso is milder. Doenjang is more pungent and robust. You can use the miso that is stronger and more pungent in flavor.

    • 8

      Holly says

      Exactly! I don’t like to cut my lettuce with a knife either. I just tear them with hand. I think there is a scientific reason behind that.

  3. 12

    sung says

    Hi Holly,

    I just made your braised pork ribs. OMG. It took me back to my childhood. It turned out so delicious. Thank you for sharing.


  4. 14


    Your photos are exquisite! I’ll be making this recipe for the Super Bowl. Thanks for your amazing site. I love Korean food and you make it seem somewhat easy for a novice like myself. :)

    • 15

      Holly says

      Hi Mad Betty, Thanks for your compliment. Hope this recipe will turn out great for you. Let me know if you have any questions regarding the recipe. Enjoy your Superbowl game.

  5. 17

    Vicki says

    Dear Holly,

    Thanks to the popularity of your blog on Pinterest, I found a link that brought me here. My mother was Korean and I grew up enjoying so many delicious Korean dishes. With the exception of Kimchi Jjigae, Mandu, and Tteok Gook, which she already taught me how to make, there were many dishes my mom used to make that I’ve been wanting to learn. Unfortunately, my mom passed away, a few years ago, before I could learn any more of her great recipes. With your blog, I’ve been able to find recipes for so many comfort foods… foods that remind me of her and give me that warm, soothing feeling of home. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes, especially this one! I remember my mom making a similar dish and I’m so excited to try it! Happy upcoming Korean New Year to you… Will you be making Tteok Gook?



    • 18

      Holly says

      Hi Vicki
      It is great to hear from you and thank you for your sweet comment. It is my pleasure that some of my recipes can help you bring your childhood memories back. Nothing is more comforting than enjoying home cooked meal that our loved one had prepared for us. Hope you get to enjoy more recipes. I will make some tteokgook soon. Cheers!

  6. 19

    Yulia says

    Hai Holly,
    i am your reader from indonesia and same as all of asian girl now, we are “poisoned” by korean (movie, song, and food)
    I am so fond of your writing style, behind every recipe given there is a story and that’s why i like your blog.
    nice to know you :)

  7. 21

    Robyn says

    HI Holly,
    I enjoy reading your recipes and have tried a few with great success. Quick question: Do you think I can make this Pork Ribs and Kimchi dish in a slow cooker? Would I need to make any adjustments? Thanks!

    • 22

      Holly says

      HI Robyn, Using a slow cooker is a great idea. I don’t think there would be any adjustments except the cooking time. Hope you like it.

  8. 23

    Roxanne says

    I tried few of your recipes and husband loved it! He loves korean food and i do watch a lot of korean drama and for some reason they just love to eat and it is so fun to watch them eat:) it made me curious what they were eating so i search for korean food and found your blog. Recipes are simple and easy to follow, thank you so much! I even now have korean instabt noodles in my pantry;)

  9. 26

    Naomi says

    Hi Holly, fantastic job. I just salivate every time I look at the Pictures. Going to start with Jajjanmeyeon first. Woohoo.

  10. 28

    Caroline Foo says

    Hi Holly

    I cooked this dish using ordinary cabbage kimchi as I couldn’t find moogunji here in Kuala Lumpur. I cooked a big pot and all finish within one sitting. It was so delicious that most of us have two bowls of rice with its. This is one recipe for keep. Thanks a lot Holly for another wonderful recipe.

    • 29


      That is just wonderful! Thanks Caroline. This is kind of dish that we call in Korea “rice thief”, which means it easily takes a bowl of rice in split seconds to empty out. :)

  11. 30

    Katharine in Brussels says

    Hi Holly! Thanks for this recipe. I fell in love with Korean food whilst doing a study abroad year at Yondei. Hopefully my old kimchi will be ok for this or, if not, kimchi bokkum bap. A few months ago I made a windfall of cabbage kimchi and radish kimchi. But before it matured I suddenly felt violently ill, and soon couldn’t tolerate any food but sweet food–you guessed it, pregnant. With my other pregnancies I loved red hot Korean food, despite nausea, but this time couldn’t tolerate anything remotely spicy. So now I begin to crave cold weather food and kimchi sounds good again since I am five months along–fingers crossed the kimchis will still be okay. I am sure they will be mushy as you predict, but with a chigae or in fried rice I will just tell myself that is the desired mouth feel! Hopefully not too alcoholic in taste though or that it will evaporate quickly because any whiff of booze really turns me off completely. In any case, thanks for giving me hope to use my unplanned very mature kimchi.

    • 31


      First of all congratulation on the exciting news. I had to go through severe nausea with my pregnancies and I couldn’t eat kimchi either because of the smell. As long as your kimchi not alcoholic, they can be redeemed in stews, fried rice, and etc. Hope you get to try this recipe. It is perfect for the cold weather.

      • 32

        Katharine in Brussels says

        Dear Holly, thanks for the congratulations. It must have been very hard to not want to eat or smell kimchi when you were pregnant since kimchi is essential for the Korean kitchen. Your husband must be congratulated for his forbearance and patience while you were sick. So sorry that you went through severe nausea for your pregnancies. Something you had in common with the Duchess of Cambridge. For the kimchi, the good news is miraculously it wasn’t alcoholic so we had a wonderful kimchi chigae this evening. Next time: kimchi bokkum bap. But we are trying your Swiss chard rice recipe as soon as I get more chard/pak soi!


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