We've got to thank Michael Natkin, author of Herbivoracious for veg-ifying one of our favorite Korean dishes, kimchi jigae, so that our vegetarian compatriots can enjoy the goodness that is this sour-spicy stew.
Natkin's version, Kimchi Jigae with Shiitake and Daikon omits the pork and seafood generally used, and swaps out the seafood fermented kimchi a vegetarian variation. The umami factor is boosted with the addition of miso and soy. Finished off with cubes of tofu, a bit of chile powder, and a drizzle of sesame oil, this vegetarian kimchi jigae packs in all of the wonderful flavors that we've come to expect from this favorite Korean dish.
What Worked: There's something about this cabbage and chile laced soup that comforts like no other.
What Didn't: Nothin', didn't even miss the meat.
Suggested Tweaks: Daikon and shiitakes are wonderful but feel free to experiment with other veggie options as well. Carrots, potatoes, and greens can all be thrown into the mix.
- 1 medium-size daikon
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, plus additional for garnish
- 16 shiitake mushroom caps, cut into bite-size pieces
- Half a white onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups coarsely chopped vegetarian kimchi
- 2 tablespoons kochujang
- 2 tablespoons red miso
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 cups water
- Powdered chile pepper or hot red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 pound firm tofu, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
- 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced, for garnish
Warm four serving bowls in a low (200°F) oven. Peel the daikon. Cut it in half lengthwise, then cut 1⁄4-inch half-moons until you have 2 cups. Reserve the rest for another use.
Heat a large (at least 4-quart) saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the toasted sesame oil. When it is hot, add the daikon and sauté for 1 minute. Add the shiitake and onion, and sauté until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes more.
Add the ginger, garlic, kimchi, kochujang, and miso, and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t worry if the kochujang and miso start as big blobs; after a few minutes they will soften and dissolve.
Add the soy sauce and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly and the flavors have begun to meld, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. If you’d like it to be spicier, you can add more kimchi or kochujang, or, if desired, a bit of powdered chile pepper or hot red pepper flakes. Gently stir in the tofu and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Divide among the serving bowls, garnish with an additional drizzle of sesame oil and the scallions, and serve immediately.