When it comes to food, I don’t love the word “authentic.” Not only
do I find it condescending, but it also implies a rigidity to cooking
that is entirely unnecessary. This stew takes elements from different
Korean dishes with the goal of creating something delicious. There
are endless adaptations, which I will discuss in the notes, but as long
as you end up with a pleasing, umami-laden combination of spicy,
pungent, and salty, you’re on the right track.
We will begin by addressing the significant elements of the stew.
While I have opted chicken stock here, there is really no broth that
will not work— vegetable stock would be equally delicious, and even
just water would get the job done. The amount of broth added can
also help adjust the heat if it ends up being a bit much.
I often utilize silken tofu for this stew—the texture is a delightful
contrast to the kimchi. In this case, I used the firm variety to
highlight Heiwa tofu, an excellent product made locally in Camden.
Anytime someone tells me that they do not care for tofu, this is what
I serve them to change their mind, as it actually has its own great
flavor rather than just the flavors of whatever it is cooked in.
Again, any kimchi will work here, but I have opted for Gracie’s
Garden, which is made in Standish. I personally think it’s so good
that I often find myself just eating it straight out of the jar as a
snack—and it goes exceptionally well with a ton of cold beer and
This stew can easily be made vegan by adjusting the broth and
omitting the eggs and can just as easily go the other direction with
shredded beef and veal stock. You can add rice, star-shaped pasta,
or a tube of crushed Ritz crackers. There is no wrong way to do it.