A few weeks ago, we ran out of kimchi, a staple in a Korean household, and had to decide where to buy it. Regular grocery stores sell a small jar for $6-8, which we can consume in less than a week. This did not make economical sense to us, so we paid a visit to Costco. And that’s our pitfall every time – thinking that we will just go in to buy one item for a good price, but in actuality, end up buying too much and spending even more. Don’t get me wrong, Costco and buying in bulk is great for families of 8, restaurant and grocery store owners and people with self control. We are a family of 2, who have eyes bigger than our stomachs. On our trips to Costco, we walk down every single aisle and even though we came for 1 item, we leave with 10. We can’t seem to resist the great deals! Over the years, we’ve learned to go mainly for the non-perishables (tp, detergent, soap, cleaning supplies, pasta, cereal, etc). We try to stay away from the 20 pounds of meat that last months and months because you can only freeze it for so long and eat the same thing so many times before you get sick of it. Same goes for the large bags of fruits and veggies that end up going bad before we can finish it. What we can’t seem to resist are the goodies – “club” size bags of chips, frozen pizza and pre-prepared meals. For us, Costco is sometimes not so good for our waistlines and wallets.
Back to the giant 2L jar of kimchi we bought. When we bought it, we looked for one that hadn’t totally ripened (still a bit green) yet because we knew it would take some time to finish it before it overly ripens and tastes sour. I used 1/4 of it to make dwengjang chigae, we eat it as a side 2-3 times a week and put it in our instant noodles and there’s still more than 1/3 left. Time to try a new recipe or two! I made kimchi jeon (pancake) and kimchi chigae (stew). The kimchi jeon turned out not as crispy as I normally like it, but still pretty tasty! The kimchi chigae was quite spicy and “restaurant quality” according to David.
Kimchi chigae (adapted from eating and living)
- 2 cups fully fermented kimchi (older is better for flavor)
- 1/4 lb fresh pork belly (or other pork meat with some fat)
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes – gochugaru (use more if no juice from the kimchi is available)
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp minced ginger
- 1/2 cup kimchi juice
- 2 cups of water* (2 1/2 if not using kimchi juice)
- 1/2 lb tofu
- 2 scallions, roughly sliced
- salt (if necessary) and pepper
* For added flavor, save the water used to rinse rice for the chigae. Use the water from the third round of rinsing.
- Cut kimchi and meat into bite sizes.
- In a small pot, cook kimchi and pork with red pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger until kimchi and pork are tender (~10 minutes).
- Add kimchi juice and water and boil for 10-15 minutes over medium high heat.
- Add tofu and scallions.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Salt is usually not necessary, unless kimchi was lightly seasoned or kimchi juice is not available.
- Boil for 5 minutes.
- Serve while bubbling over from the heat.
Kimchi Jeon (adapted from eating and living)
- 1 cup Korean pancake mix or flour
- 1/4 cup sweet rice powder*
- 1 egg
- 1 cup water (1/4 cup more if not using juice from kimchi)
- 1 cup thinly sliced kimchi (fully fermented)
- 1/4 cup kimchi juice (if available)
- 1 tbsp red pepper paste (gochujang)
- 2-3 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 1/2 small onion, sliced
- vegetable or canola oil for pan frying
*Sweet rice powder adds a little bit of elastic texture to the pancakes, but if unavailable, just add more Korean pancake mix or flour.
- Prepare batter by mixing the first four ingredients.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
- Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a non-stick pan over medium low heat.
- Ladle the mixture into the pan and spread it evenly into a thin round shape.
- Cook until the bottom is light golden brown (~3-4 minutes).
- Turn it over, adding more oil, press it down with a spatula, and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the other side is light golden brown.
- Repeat the process until there is no remaining mixture.
- Serve hot with dipping sauce.
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- pinch of black pepper
- pinch of red pepper flakes
Notes and Tips:
I didn’t have enough kimchi juice for the chigae, so I added an extra tsp of red pepper flakes. For the jeon, I didn’t have the sweet rice powder so I just added more pancake mix. I wanted some protein in the pancake, so I added prawns (with shells removed) to the batter. Also, I thought 2 tbsp was too much oil, so for the second pancake, I just used 1 tbsp and that was enough.