Tag Archives: spice is nice

Spice is nice – kimchi stew

28 Feb

Close up of kimchi stew with chicken and tofu over steamed jasmine rice.

In January, Nate and I made about four pounds of homemade kimchi and we’re just using up the last of it.  We tried eating it a number of different ways but my favorite was definitely as kimchi stew served with some jasmine rice.  It was really tasty and could easily be made with store bought kimchi.

bowl of kimchi stew with kimchi, chicken and tofu with jasmine rice.

Maangchi’s recipe for kimchi stew recommends using pork belly or canned tuna.  I was feeling lazy, so I figured I would pick up a few cans of tuna from Trader Joe’s.  When I got there, the tuna was around $3.00 a can.  I don’t buy tuna very often so I don’t know if this is a reasonable price or not but it seemed expensive for fish in a can.  I’m not up-to-date on different tuna species and ethical fishing practices so I’m not sure if this contributed to the price.  In all honesty, I’ve never been much of a fan of canned tuna anyway.

So, after walking through the store and eying the meat case, I noticed that TJ’s has organic free-range chicken drumsticks for $1.99/lb.  Sold!

Obviously, this recipe isn’t vegetarian, but I think you could easily adapt it to be.  You could leave out the chicken, use veggie broth and maybe add some extra tofu.  I imagine that sauteing some mushrooms along with the onions would be damn tasty, too!  Keep in mind, though, that kimchi is often made with fish sauce and if you use store bought kimchi it may not be vegetarian.

Chicken Kimchi Stew – makes six to eight servings

Adapted from Maangchi’s Kimchi stew (kimchi chigae)


  • 1 and 1/2 lbs chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • 1 Tbsp high temperature oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 c. kimchi, cut into bite size chunks if needed
  • 3+ c. chicken broth or water
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 package tofu
  • Salt and pepper
  • Soy sauce, sesame oil, hot sauce (optional)
  • Steamed jasmine rice (for serving)

Heat about half the oil in dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot with a lid.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown the chicken on all sides.  The goal here is not to cook the chicken through, but to create some flavor (“Brown food tastes good,” as Chef Anne Burrell says).  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan.  Once hot, add in the onion and saute for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the minced garlic and saute for another minute or two.  Add some of the broth/water and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.  Add the kimchi, red pepper flakes, the remaining broth, and the drumsticks.  The drumsticks won’t be covered by the liquid, that’s fine.  I like my stews to be more chunky than soupy.  If you’d like more broth, feel free to add some more liquid.  Bring everything to simmer, then reduce the heat.  Cover the pot and simmer for about 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot and let cool briefly.  Shred/slice the chicken from the bones (which you should save to make chicken broth).  You can either remove the skin and toss it or you can slice it up as well.  Return the chicken to the pot.  Cut up the tofu (I like to leave it in fairly large pieces but it’s up to you) and add that to the pot as well.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls over the jasmine rice.  Season with pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, and hot sauce to taste.

Close up of kimchi stew with chicken and tofu over steamed jasmine rice.

One final note: I think this would be a great recipe to pull out when someone you care about is feeling under the weather.  Spicy chicken soup should really help clear out those sinuses!

Cold and spicy – roast broccoli

22 Jan

roast broccoli with flecks of red chili

A few weeks ago as I was making dinner for a get-together with a friend, Nate informed me that we would be having a few more guests than I had originally planned for.  Thankfully, we had some good looking broccoli in the fridge that I quickly prepped and threw into the oven.  Despite taking the shortest amount of time to prepare and being made of the cheapest ingredients, the broccoli stole the show.  Everyone who has eaten this has asked me how to make it; it’s so easy that I can’t help but feel somewhat embarrassed when I give them the directions.  If you make this, you will probably be surprised when you taste it.  In a good way.

roast broccoli on a plate, covered with specks of red chili

The secret to both the ease and the big flavor of this recipe is this pre-made chili garlic sauce.  A bottle of this stuff costs around $3 and you can buy it at pretty much any grocery store that has a mediocre Asian food section.  You can put it on just about anything, but for now I’m sticking to broccoli.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut your broccoli into florets and place in a medium to large bowl.  You can also slice up the stem and add that if you so desire.

Mix a spoonful of chili garlic sauce in a small bowl with high temperature cooking oil (veggie, canola, or peanut).  The sauce by itself has a chunky consistency; you should mix it with enough oil so that it resembles a thick salad dressing.

Pour your chili oil mixture over the broccoli and toss until fairly evenly coated.  Dump the broccoli onto a baking pan and roast in the oven until the edges of the broccoli are brown and crispy, it should take somewhere between 25-35 minutes.

roast broccoli with flecks of red chili

I think that this kind of cooking is really more of an art than a science.  If you like things hot and spicy, use more chili garlic sauce.  Add a little soy sauce if you want.  Have tons of broccoli?  Go for it.  It will shrink in size as it cooks anyway.  Add a little sesame oil when it comes out of the oven.  And a little salt and black pepper never hurt anyone!

It’s taken me a while, but I’m finally becoming comfortable enough in the kitchen that I don’t always have to follow recipe.  I don’t know about you, but I think that cooking becomes so much more interesting when you give yourself the freedom to experiment a little!

Cold and spicy – kimchi babies

16 Jan

Tossing cabbage for kimchi

We didn’t have a white Christmas this year but we are currently enjoying a bit of a winter wonderland.  We woke up yesterday morning to about an inch of snow.  Now I realize that only in Oregon (and California, I guess) would an single inch of snow be worth mentioning.  We hardly get any snow (some winters we don’t see any at all) so when snow sticks around for more than an hour or so, it’s a big deal.

Bearded, bespectacled man in a red and white 49ers sweater playing in the snow and making a snowman.

Nate had today off of work so he spent the morning making a snowman.  Check out his awesome sweater.  As a kid his favorite NFL team was the 49ers so when I saw this sweater for a few dollars at a thrift store, I had to pick it up for him.

I think that one of the best types of food to accompany cold weather is spicy food.  Nate thinks that one of the best types of food regardless of the weather is spicy food.  So, we decided to make kimchi today.  Nate had picked up a giant package of Korean red pepper flakes in Portland over the Summer.  We walked a few blocks in the slush to the natural food grocery store and bought everything else we needed.

A metal bowl of chopped cabbage and a white plastic bowl of bright red kimchi paste.

After learning that they shared a love for it, one of Nate’s favorite customer’s gave him a recipe for homemade kimchi.  The recipe comes from online Korean cooking star Maangchi, whose website is a treasure trove of cute cooking instructional videos and tasty recipes.

Tossing cabbage for kimchi

We made a few adaptations to Maangchi’s easy kimchi recipe.  Instead of Napa cabbage, we used savoy (it was all they had in stock at the store) and we adapted the recipe for approximately four pounds of cabbage.  We also omitted the fish sauce in the kimchi paste, replacing it with a little soy sauce.  I don’t usually have an aversion to fish sauce but we had made this recipe before and with one cup of fish sauce, I found it to be a little too fishy.  Rather than just cut back on the fish sauce, we decided to cut it out entirely so that we could share the kimchi with our vegetarian friends (if we don’t eat it all ourselves first)!

Photograph of a man mixing red kimchi paste onto chopped cabbage.

I recently happened upon another recipe for kimchi on the Splendid Table website.  The recipe is from The Korean Table: From Barbecue to Bibimbap by Taekyung Chung and Debra Samuels.  I find it really interesting to see the differences between two recipes for the same thing.  Maangchi’s recipe has more julienning (a task I’m not particularly fond of) so next time I may try the recipe from The Korean Table.

Holding up a container of finished kimchi.

This large container of kimchi is now making itself at home in our refrigerator.  It takes a while to develop the sour, fermented taste when kept at cold temperatures, so we put a little kimchi in a small, separate container and left it on the counter.  Tomorrow, if it smells sour and looks bubbly, it will go into the fridge with a head-start on its fermentation.

Now we just need to figure out what to do with all of this kimchi.  We’ll snack on it little by little, but I’ve been eying a few recipes that should help use it up.  Maangchi has a recipe for kimchi stew with pork belly (or tuna) and tofu.  The Splendid Table has a recipe from Ming Tsai for pork kimchi with noodles.  And, of course, there is the ever popular kimchi fried rice.  Do you have a favorite recipe that uses kimchi?  With all of this kimchi, I’m definitely looking for recommendations!