Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vegan Kimchi Stew

One would think a Korean stew made with spicy cabbage pickles and tofu would naturally be vegan... not so! As the kimchi itself is traditionally made with aek jot (Korean anchovy sauce) and saeu chot (Korean salted shrimp), and the stew often contains pork or seafood, it's certainly best to ask before digging in at your local Korean restaurant. Since I made the kimchi used in the stew, however, veganizing the few jjigae recipes I found was not too difficult. I worked of a Saveur recipe in the November 2009 issue (not online) and this one from the blog "A Series of Kitchen Experiments".

Here's what I came up with:

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced or garlic pressed
  • 8 shiitake mushrooms (fresh), stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 package of firm tofu, drained and cut into 3/4" cubes
  • 2.5 cups cabbage kimchi with some juice, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 cup daikon, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup frozen soybeans (i.e. peeled edamame), defrosted
  • 5 pieces of wakame (i.e. seaweed), rehydrated and roughly chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp. Korean chile powder
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp. rice vinegar
  • Cooked white rice for serving

Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a dutch oven/soup pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, and onion and cook until soft; about 3 minutes.
  2. Add broth, tofu, kimchi, daikon, soy beans, wakame, chili powder, and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer covered until flavors meld and soybeans are tender... 30 minutes.
  3. Stir in vinegar and serve with rice.

Pretty easy stuff, but delicious nonetheless. Though I wonder a bit whether this recipe is a little too chock full of stuff... should I up the liquid to 8 cups and maybe go for 3 cups of kimchi, for a little more kimchi dominance and better balance? I'm still tinkering, I guess, but it seems to really be a hard dish to screw up with decent kimchi. I am most curious to try making it with some really fermented kimchi... as that's the typical recommendation I've found... but, at this rate, the question is whether my kimchi will even last long enough to qualify as "long-aged". Next up will be searching for a vegan kimchi jeon recipe (kimchi pancakes).