Korean Food 101: Kimchi Jiggae

Disclaimer: I am not Korean. I am Filipino through and through. I do, however, love korean food (and filipino food). Before I met my husband (who is Korean), all I knew about korean food is a korean bbq place called Il Mee in Annandale, VA. Since we met in 2007 (whoa… we old…), he has introduced me to a plethora of different korean dishes which I immediately loved. Except for the really spicy korean food… i’m a weakling when it comes to that.

Another Disclaimer: I am not a good cook. I can follow a recipe and it will turn out fine… but I cannot make things up in my head. I can’t come up with the concept of what goes well with what. So I’m a lost cause… maybe.

My in laws stayed with us this past week and omma was gracious enough to teach me how to cook her version of kimchi jiggae, which is by the way, my favorite kimchi jiggae. I’ve tried them in restaurants, and they just don’t compare.

So in an attempt to share my love for korean food (or any food in general), here’s her “recipe” for Kimchi Jiggae (kimchi soup).

Last disclaimer: when you’re a good cook, there doesn’t seem to be a need to measure anything. Hence, the quotation marks on the word “recipe.” So this is essentially just some guidance on how to make kimchi soup. The measurements will have to be trial and error.

Here is what you will need:

  • Olive Oil – just enough so nothing sticks onto the pan
  • Pork shoulder – cut into cubes (1-1.5 inches in size it looked like)
  • Minced garlic – appa said that the more you use, the better! So throw that in there unsparingly
  • Dwenjang – soybean paste, also spelled “doenjang” which you can find in korean markets
  • Kimchi – not all kimchi is created equal; in-laws say “mat” kimchi is the best one to use for this soup
  • Potatoes – cut into any shape you want (just don’t throw whole potatoes in the soup – that’s not right ;-))
  • Anchovie broth – appa made the broth and swear it ups the level of the soup – he’s right; omma says if you don’t have that, “use water, it’s ok” haha love them!
  • Medium firm Tofu -sometimes in stores you can see on the label that the tofu is for “jiggae” – get that one
  • Onion – coarsely cut, doesn’t have to be tiny
  • Vegetables/toppings – here’s where you can add any veggies or toppings you may want (since I’m not one to know what goes well with what, zucchinni, and mushrooms are a good go-to)
  • Carbs – omma did not add this, but she said you can add rice cakes or noodles to the soup if you’d like
  • Green Onions – “for decoration” is specifically what omma says

Whoa that was a lot. But I promise it’s delish and that’s why I wanted to share it. Ok here’s how you make it… sorta… i mean like I said.. trial and error people.. trial and error.

Heat up that pan on medium-high heat and drizzle some olive oil on it. Add the cubed pork shoulder (maybe 1.5 – 2 lbs worth) on it and start to stir it around.


While that’s cooking, go ahead and put a dollop or more of minced garlic… I mean if I have to measure it… I’d say 2 tablespoons or so? Then mix it together so the pork will have some flavor on it.


Time for the dwenjang/doenjang/soybean paste – it does not look appetizing, but what paste does? Trust the process people, trust. I’d say double the size of the garlic but be warned that this is rather salty, so if you want it less salty, don’t put so much on there. Then mix mix mix! Until the outer park of the pork has browned.


Then it’s mat kimchi time. See that bowl? That whole bowl’s worth. Hahah.. hmmmm like 2.5-3 cups. Trial and error people, trial and error.


Add the cubed potatoes. In this recipe, we used 1.


Then the anchovie broth (or water if you don’t have anchovie broth – appa said he’ll teach me how to make it next time so maybe I’ll put a link here if I remember). Bring it to a boil.


Then add the vegetables/toppings, onions and tofu. Here’s where you decide how much to put. I don’t think it really matters, but just make sure you have enough broth for whatever you put in there.


Then I think you can put the noodles and or the rices cakes the last 3-5 minutes (we didn’t, so no pics of that).

Lastly, the green onion to make it pretty.


There you go! I hope that was sorta helpful and hope that if you’re interested on making it, that it goes well for you and that you like it.

Thanks for reading and have an awesome rest of the day!


      1. It doesn’t look scary. I’ve seen scary. This actually looks good. I don’t think I’d make it right though, so it could turn scary real quick. Lol

    1. I promise it’s better than kimchi lol. Because it’s in soup form, it smells less and it’s less fermented. But definitely understand your stance on kimchi… I did not like it at first neither 🙂 thanks for reading! 🙂

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