Kimchi jjigae is a Korean stew made with aged kimchi, pork belly, and tofu. This easy recipe offers classic Korean comfort with simple steps. Perfect for a cozy meal at home.

Authentic kimchi stew made with pork and tofu, a classic Korean cuisine.

Being Korean, I always have a jar of overly fermented kimchi taking up space in the back of the fridge. Can anyone relate?

The great thing about kimchi is that you can turn old kimchi into something delicious. Kimchi jjigae always comes to mind first. The next runner-up would be kimchi fried rice, of course.

I don’t know how I never got tired of kimchi jjigae, even as a child when my mother made this stew over and over. A bowl of warm, hearty, and slightly tangy kimchi stew is the ultimate Korean comfort food, and I craved it all the time.

If you’re looking for a classic Korean kimchi stew recipe, this pork kimchi jjigae is a must-try. Loaded with sour kimchi, generous amounts of fatty pork, and soft tofu chunks that soaks up all the robust flavors of the tangy jjigae broth, I’m salivating just thinking about it.

A ladle of kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae) with tofu and pork from the pot.

What is Kimchi Jjigae?

For those who are not familiar with Korean cuisine, kimchi jjigae is a traditional Korean stew made with kimchi. It’s one of the most popular comfort foods in Korea.

The main ingredient is fermented cabbage kimchi, which gives the stew its tangy flavor. Pork is the most common protein used in kimchi jjigae, adding richness to the dish. However, tuna, anchovy, or mackerel are also commonly used alternatives. Check out my recipes for anchovy kimchi stew and mackerel pike kimchi stew for other unique takes on this classic dish.

Along with pork, tofu is added to soak up the delicious broth. The stew cooks until all the flavors blend together but doesn’t need a long simmering time like Western stews. Typically served with a bowl of rice, it makes for a satisfying meal, especially on cold days.

Restaurant quality kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae) with pork belly slice on top of rice bowl.

Kimchi and Pork

Kimchi and pork is a match made in heaven. The rich, savory flavors of pork perfectly complement the tangy, spicy kick of kimchi.

For the best results in your stew, always use fully fermented kimchi. If your kimchi isn’t sour enough, let it sit in a warm place for 1-2 days to develop the tangy flavor quickly. If it’s too sour, adding a spoonful of sugar can help balance the taste.

When it comes to the pork, the fattier, the better! Pork belly works best because it renders a rich flavor. Lean pork can work too, but it won’t be as flavorful.

How to make Pork Kimchi Jjigae

Cook pork belly

Pork belly slices cooking in a pot to make pork kimchi stew.
Sliced onion and minced garlic are added to make a classic kimchi jjigae (stew).

Heat oil in a pot over medium high heat. Cook pork belly slices and cook throughly. Then add onion and garlic, and cook for 1 minute.

Pork belly and onion tossed with Korean chili flakes.

Sprinkle a little bit of Korean chili flakes (gochugaru) if you desire, and toss everything to coat. 

Add kimchi and kimchi brine

kimchi juice added into a pot of kimchi and pork belly stew.
Thin rice cake rounds added to thicken the kimchi stew.

Add sliced kimchi, kimchi juice, water, and rice cakes (if using). Cover with a lid and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Season the Stew

Salted shrimp added into a pot of authentic kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew).

Add salted shrimp snd Korean soup soy sauce and stir the stew. Taste the stew and season more with salt if needed.

Add Tofu

Tofu slices are added to the kimchi jjigae and garnished with green onion.

Add tofu slices and simmer for another 5 minutes. As a final step just before serving, garnish with green onion.

Cooking Tips for Best Kimchi Jjigae

  1. Use very old, sour cabbage kimchi – a great way to use up extra kimchi that’s been taking up space in the fridge.
  2. The fattier the pork, the better it tastes. Fat builds the flavor. I recommend using pork belly or pork shoulder with a layer of fat attached.
  3. Don’t skip the kimchi juice (or kimchi liquid). It has all the good taste in it and adds flavor and depth to the dish.
  4. A hint of Korean salted shrimp deepens the flavor of broth.
  5. Consider adding a few pieces of rice cakes to thicken the stew broth. However, this is optional.
  6. Water vs anchovy stock as a soup base? Either one works. I found using plain water works better in pork kimchi stew, though. It maintains the natural flavor of pork better.
A bowl of pork kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew) with tofu, rice, and roasted seaweed.

What to Eat with Kimchi Stew

A bowl of rice is a must. I also recommend trying it with roasted dried seaweed snacks called gim (김). This is a common pairing in Korean homes and restaurants. For a complete meal, try these Korean side dishes:

Storage and Reheating

The flavor of kimchi stew intensifies over time, and you can store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. To reheat, simply warm it in a microwave or on a stovetop until heated through.

If you enjoy Korean stews, check out these popular recipes:

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A pot of kimchi jjigae made with pork and tofu is served with rice and roasted seaweed.

Pork Kimchi Jjigae (Classic Korean Kimchi Stew)

Kimchi jjigae is a Korean stew made with aged kimchi, pork belly, and tofu. This easy recipe offers classic Korean comfort with simple steps.
5 from 5 ratings

Recipe Video

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 lb pork belly, sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp Korean chili flakes (gochugaru)
  • 1 lb (450 g) sour kimchi, sliced
  • 4 tbsp kimchi juice
  • 2 1/2 cup (600 ml) water
  • 5 piece rice cake rounds, optional
  • 1 tsp Korean salted shrimp
  • 1 tbsp Korean soup soy sauce (gukganjang), or Korean tuna sauce
  • 1/2 lb (225 g) soft tofu, sliced
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • pinches salt , to taste

Instructions 

  • Heat oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add pork belly slices and cook thoroughly. Add onion and garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle gochugaru and toss everything to coat. 
    Onion and pork belly are stir-fried with Korean chili flakes to make kimchi jjigae.
  • Add sliced kimchi, kimchi juice, water, and rice cakes (if using). Cover with a lid and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes. To season, add salted shrimp and Korean soup soy sauce and stir the stew. Taste the stew and season more with salt if needed.
    Kimchi and shrmip sauce is added to kimchi stew in a pot.
  • Add tofu slices and simmer for another 5 minutes. As a final step just before serving, garnish with green onion. Enjoy kimchi jjiage hot with rice and a few Korean side dishes. 
    Tofu and green onion are added and kimchi jjigae is served with rice and sseaweed.
Calories: 392kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 36g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Monounsaturated Fat: 17g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 43mg, Sodium: 611mg, Potassium: 188mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 629IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 94mg, Iron: 2mg
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