kimchi jjigae

this kimchi jjigae recipe is a recipe half-remembered. my dad used to stop by a tiny korean supermarket somewhere in the middle of delaware on his way home from work and buy a pound of homemade kimchi from the shop owner. whenever he came in the door with bags of korean groceries, we knew that we could expect kimchi jjigae, whipped up in under an hour in the o.g. of “painless cooking” kitchen gadgets, the pressure cooker. I’ve half-watched him make it a number of times while doing homework at the kitchen counter, but it’s been over a decade since then and the details, which were never truly committed to memory to begin with, have only become fuzzier.

I’m not much for kitchen gadgets, and my small apartment kitchen has forced me to be even choosier. as a result, I’ve adapted this recipe to my dutch oven (a.k.a. the only pot I have that is large enough to hold a stew), and have done my best to adapt my memories of what my dad made to my current tastes. though my kimchi jjigae doesn’t quite match what I remember, it does capture the addictive spiciness and comfort of one of my favorite childhood dishes.

makes 6-8 servings

2 lb beef short ribs (bone-in if possible)
ground black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 tsp sugar
1 lb kimchi (with juices), chopped
1 tbsp chili flakes (gochugaru preferable, though red pepper flakes work in a pinch)
1 tbsp gochujang
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 cups dashi (3 cups hot water + 1/2 tbsp dashi granules)
8 oz firmed tofu, cubed
1 tsp sesame oil
chopped scallion, for garnish

sarah leung. kimchi stew. the woks of life. 8 march 2016. accessed 13 april 2018.
jennifer yu. get jjigae with it. use real butter. 25 october 2015. accessed 13 april 2018.

1 heat oil over high heat in a large dutch oven. generously season beef short ribs with salt and pepper. (if you bought boneless beef short ribs, cut ribs into 3-in cubes, then season.) place in short ribs in pot and sear until brown (working in batches if necessary to avoid over-crowding), about 2 minutes on each side. with tongs, transfer the short ribs to a plate.
2 reduce heat to medium and add onions. sauté until soft and translucent, then add the garlic and cook for ~1 more minute, until fragrant.
3 add kimchi and fry for ~2 minutes, then add 1 tsp salt and the sugar, chili flakes, gochujang, and dashi. when the mixture comes to a boil, return the short ribs to the pot, turn the heat down to a simmer, cover, and cook for 2-2.5 hours, until the ribs are tender.
4 uncover and nestle the tofu on top. replace the cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. uncover again and stir in the sesame oil. garnish with chopped scallion and serve immediately over rice.

 
*I photographed the stew in a korean dolsot. you can halve the recipe and cook it in a medium-sized dolsot if you want; if you use a dolsot, I’d recommend browning the meat separately in a pan to avoid steaming the meat.
*I like carrots in my jjigae for the natural sweetness they impart, but it’s not traditional to include carrots and you can leave them out. my dad likes to add daikon to his jjigae; just roughly cube it and use in place of the carrots
*other fun toppings: you can also add a handful of enoki mushrooms right before serving, and you can top the jjigae with raw bean sprouts or raw matchstick carrots.
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spicy peanut stew with ginger and tomato

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when I think of the word “international”, a few cities jump to mind: new york city, london, washington, d.c. three starkly different cities with completely different atmospheres, and yet when I think of each one, the first word that comes to mind is “international”.

new york is bustling, its immigrant population in full display in the crowded streets and its immigrant-welcoming history commemorated by the statue of liberty. skyscrapers tower like trees fighting for sunlight in a concrete jungle. businesses from around the world are located in nyc, from large global corporations to small, immigrant-run bakeries.

london, on the other hand, feels like an old european city. there are the famous bridges, the castles, the colossal, centuries-old government buildings and museums. and yet there is undoubtedly an international presence felt in the monuments commemorating moments when the sun never set on the empire, and in the communities of immigrants (many from the former colonies that comprised britain’s “greatest” and most inhumane chapter), where the smells of spices not native to europe and the sounds of foreign languages spill into the streets.

and then there’s washington, d.c., the seat of the federal government and so wholly american, yet international. where embassies of small countries are tucked in basements of residential neighborhoods, where every block seems to have some sort of foreign language learning school or university building or government office. in washington d.c., one truly feels how internationalism is interwoven with american government and culture. so many parts of d.c. feel transient, from the revolving foreign staff to our own elected officials to the large student populace and young professionals.

even in my apartment building, I hear different languages in the elevator and in the halls and around dinnertime, delicious odors waft into my apartment. sometimes, it’s a whiff of kimchi, other times a roast chicken. while frying up the aromatics for this peanut stew, a riff on west african peanut stew, the scents of cumin, cayenne, peppers, and shallots quickly filled my kitchen. I can only hope that someone else in the building enjoyed the smells and that it perhaps inspired them.

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makes eight servings

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-in dice
1 tsp kosher salt + more to taste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 inches ginger, peeled and minced
1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
1 onion, chopped
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
3-4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup natural unsweetened peanut butter
1 medium-sized zucchini, cut in quarters lengthwise, then sliced 1/2 in thick
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped + more for garnish
chopped peanuts (optional)

julia moskin. spicy peanut stew with ginger and tomato. new york times. 24 january 2007. accessed 12 september 2017.

1 in a colander, toss eggplant with 1 tsp salt and set aside for 30 minutes. dry off with paper towels.
2 in a small bowl, combine cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne; set aside.
3 in a large pot, heat 3 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. add shallots and fry, stirring often, until soft, crisp, and caramelized, ~10 minutes. using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots to a large bowl, leaving oil in pot. raise heat to high and add eggplant. cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and just tender, ~10 minutes. transfer to bowl with shallots.
4 add remaining 1 tbsp oil to pot and heat over medium-high heat. add ginger and chilies then cook, stirring for 30 seconds. add spices and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds. add onion and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, until softened and translucent, ~5 minutes. add tomato paste and cook, stirring, ~1 minute.
5 add diced tomatoes, vegetable stock, eggplants, shallots, and sprinkling of salt. bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. place peanut butter in a medium bowl, add 1-2 ladlefuls of hot soup and stir until emulsified, then pour mixture back into soup.
6 reduce heat to a simmer, add zucchini, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are tender. turn off heat and stir in lemon juice and chopped cilantro. let cool slightly and taste; add salt if necessary.
7 serve with rice, garnished with cilantro leaves and chopped peanuts.
*ingredients are flexible – juice of 1/2 a lime works well if you don’t have lemons; you can also add sweet potatoes (pan-fry with eggplant), collard greens/kale (add with diced tomatoes and vegetable stock), and/or chicken (1/2 chicken breast added after onions are softened and cooked for 3-4 additional minutes).

honey and beer braised short ribs


2016 brought a flood of vitality, in all of its chaos and glory. there was the feverish experience of working at a small nonprofit, the anguish of november 2016 and the ensuing dread and disbelief. and yet through it all, there persisted the constant hum and bustle of life.

perhaps part of this new perception comes from living in a real city for the first time. to have neighbors across a narrow streets whose windows are so close, i can hear their music and see them read, to be surrounded by the constant reminder that the world is full of others living their lives, the way that their – and i suppose, my – private life is in part put on display, is jarring yet exhilarating.

now a good fourth of the way into 2017, it feels right to return to fort juniper with this recipe, one of my favorites to make in cooler weather. spring has seemed tantalizingly close for months, and yet the weather predicts that this friday will be 48ºF. these braised short ribs make for a leisurely late afternoon project on the weekends. i’ve made it wheat ale, with pilsner, and even with stout. i’ve used butternut and honeynut squash before and have added shallots on occasion. each time, it turns out comfortingly delicious.

makes 4-6 servings

2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 lb bone-in beef short ribs, cut into 3-in pieces (or 2 lb boneless beef short ribs, cut into 3-in pieces)
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 large head garlic
3 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 sprigs thyme
2 large sprigs parsley + 2 tbsp chopped parsley, divided
1/2 cup honey
1 (12-oz) bottle wheat ale (or beer of your choice)

darra goldstein. fire + ice: classic nordic cooking. new york: ten speed press, 2015.

1 preheat oven to 300ºF. heat oil in 6-qt braising pan over medium heat. rub short ribs with salt and pepper. working in batches, place in short ribs in pan and sear until brown, about 2 minutes on each side. with tongs, transfer the short ribs to a plate and pour off all the fat from the pan.
2 remove outer papery skin from head of garlic and cut ~1/2 in off top to reveal the cloves.
3 return short ribs to pan and nestle hear of garlic among them, cut side up. strew onions and carrots among the meat, and stick the thyme and parsley sprigs in any nooks. (sometimes, I tie the thyme and parsley together so that I can easily remove them before serving.)
4 whisk together honey and beer in a bowl and pour mixture over meat and vegetables (it won’t cover them). cover the pan tightly with lid and bake for 2 hours.
5 raise oven temperature to 400ºF and continue to bake meat until it is very tender and liquid has turned slightly syrupy, about 45-55 minutes more.
6 skim off as much fat as you can. you can serve the ribs right out of the pan or transfer to a deep serving bowl. garnish with minced parsley and serve hot. (to reheat, place stew in oven at 300ºF for about an hour.)