I'm going to tell you guys a secret.
I drink pickle juice.
I know, I know. Not healthy. And only occasionally. And I'm even snobby about it - my fav is the water that surrounds properly fermented sour dill pickles. Nerdy, yup.
So when a pal o' mine described to me one of her "I miss Cali" dishes, and how it was kinda pickle soup, I knew I had to either find it somewhere in town or make it myself. And since we're only just starting to see Korean joints pop up in CLT, the latter had to do. She linked me this place - and I went to town.
OMG, baby kimchoy!! Or Bokchi? Hmm. Anyways - a week of fermenting baby bok choy in a shrimp-free Chi recipe produced stinky, wilty, and dare I say, cute results. Little pockets of pickly, spicy awesomeness. They're kind of a mouthful - if you prefer your kimchi more dispersed throughout the brew, chop them a bit before adding.
Traditionally, this stew is made over an open flame in a clay pot, with everything going in fresh and cooking in stages, ending up as one big bowl of tofu, veggies, kimchi, pepper powder or paste, broth, and a big ol' egg cracked in at the very end. Insane. Spicy. Textural. Awesome. I was a tad dubious about my Japanese porcelain holding up to the heat, so I cheated and made the stew in a pot and ladled it into by bowl of choice. I love this dish, and will have to hunt down a proper Ttukbaegi. I'll bet Super G has one hidden somewhere in that vast, stinky space.
Soondubu jjigae with Kimchi
(aka KimChoy stew with Tofu, Veggies, and eggs)
For the broth:
3 cups - use either homemade veggie stock or, like me, faux-beef boullion + water (mushroom would be awesome too)
1 piece kombu
2 bird's eye chilis, split down the middle
Dash sesame oil
3 shitakes, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
For the rest:
1 cup kimchi
1 tube soondubu
Green onions, chopped
Cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 large egg
3 tablespoons (or more to taste - you know me and tongue-searing, I used more like 5) Korean red pepper paste (like this)
Easy peasy. Heat your oil over medium heat either in your Ttukbaegi or small soup pot and saute onion and mushrooms for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 10 minutes, until flavors have melded. Remove kombu.
Now, add your pepper paste, herbs, and kimchi, and stir well. Carefully break your tofu into the pot, piecing it up a tad bit, but leaving some large chunks. While soup is still simmering, crack the egg in. Now, you can either stir it in and enrich your stew or let it poach a bit. I chose the former.
One of the rad things about the afore-mention Super G mart we've just recently been blessed with is that they have TONS of banchan. I love lotus root, so I picked up some sesame-soy marinated root to float in my bowl amidst all the salty, spicy awesome.
Serve with banchan and rice. Soooo goooood.