Kimchi Soup, or Stew

This is not a recipe for a kimchi based soup or stew. There are plenty to find in a search. This is just to encourage you to prepare some; but, as soon as possible. It’s that good.

If you have been raised in a traditionally observant Korean household, this is probably something that you don’t need no Cooky Cat telling you about. But if you don’t eat kimchi on a daily basis, as is the Korean custom, then stay a while. This is for you. And, you will be glad you did.

You know how you can sometimes stumble on things just by accident or by the arrangement of circumstances. Well it seems a friend of ours makes kimchi occasionally and, after the first flush of enthusiasm over the latest batch, there is invariably a jar with a small portion left in the back of the refrigerator, slowly fermenting away, only getting more better and sour with time. Having seen a show on television on kimchi soup produced by the Kimchi Chronicles wonderfully hosted by Marja Vongerichten (with interesting friends and sometimes assisted by Jean-Georges Vongerichten), that was natural inspiration that the jar in the back of the refrigerator was going to be the basis for a kimchi soup/stew (“Soup” if it’s soupy; “stew” if it’s thicky.) one evening when the call went out for something quick and easy. And, from what was already on hand.

For the record, this is what went into the first attempt: Soup Base—one cup cabbage-daikon kimchi, one cup of the fermentation liquid, one cup water. Add Ins—dried Chinese small cap and tree ear mushrooms. Dried tiger lily flowers. Separately, a stir fry was being whipped together with bits of left over pork spare ribs, bok choy and onion; and flavored with garlic, ginger, scallions, and some sesame oil. In an inspired move, the cook just went ahead and tossed the stir fry into the soup. Voilà, kimchi stew! More scallions for garnish along with chopped fresh coriander leaves.

One of the most delicious What-We-Got-On-Hand dishes. EVER!

If you make kimchi chances are you have some in the fridge right now. If not, we do recommend you give making a batch at home a try. But that’s a whole another kettle of cabbage. Or, you can just go out and get some ready-made at your neighborhood Korean store.

The secret is the very simple soup/stew base: Kimchee cut into bite size pieces, fermentation liquid and water to dilute. After that you can go on your own.

We don’t want to leave you completely without some suggestions. Certainly something pork would be an excellent choice. Barbequed Chinese pork, some browned pork cubes long braised to tenderness, or some tender braised pork belly sliced and browned. Also, tofu; and, maybe some dried tofu skins. Your choice of dried mushrooms. Don’t overlook those densely sweet tiger lily flowers. And, wakame sea vegetable. And a chopped green leaf Oriental type vegetable. And/or, one of the many squash or melon type Oriental vegetables. Flavor to taste with garlic, ginger, and sesame oil plus scallion and fresh chopped coriander to garnish.

That sour, tangy, peppery Kimchi broth seems to flatter just about anything savory. In our mind it does, however, skew the choices toward the Oriental palate. Not a rule, just a nudge. You be the judge. (Never a nudge, though.)

PS Here’s a radical after thought. How about making up a kimchi soup with some firm fruits for a novel experiment. Either as the sole other ingredient, or maybe some cubed apple or melon in with the savory bits. (You heard it here first. Cooky Cat! Another purrrfectly good idea.)

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