Periodically rearranging my refrigerator always brings surprises, some good, some bad. Last weekend’s fridge rummaging brought a good surprise when I found a container of kimchi juice, a relic from when I made kimchi mandu. To use it up, I made my own version of kimchi jjigae (김치 찌개 kimchi soup). Though this dish is quite nourishing with kale, mushrooms, quinoa, and of course the kimchi, I feel I should mention that this is probably not a dish that my Korean friends would approve. For one, vegetable stock was used and not a smidgen of beef or pork. To make matters worse, I did not use any chilies, due to my utter lack of tolerance when it comes to spicy food. However, it should be noted and remembered that all families in Korea make their kimchi jjigae a little different — some just a little more different than others.
Ingredients (serves 4-5, generously)
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 red sweet pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 cup kimchi juice
9 cups vegetable stock
15 large shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 package enokitake mushrooms, bottom removed, sliced in half (reserve 1/4 of the bunch for garnishing)
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup kimchi
3-4 large kale leaves, torn
1 package silken tofu, cubed
1. In a soup pot over medium heat, heat the sesame oil before adding the garlic and diced onion. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and the onion is translucent. Add the sweet red pepper and continue to stir until heated through.
2. Add the vegetable stock, kimchi juice, and kimchi to the pot. When the soup begins to boil, turn the heater down to a simmer. Add the mushrooms and quinoa and cover the pot.
3. Check the soup after 15 minutes. The shiitakes should be plump and tender, the quinoa cooked through.
4. Add the tofu to the pot and turn off the heat. Add the torn kale, and serve immediately after it wilts, to ensure that the bright green color is in the bowl when it is served.
5. Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish each bowl with a drizzle of sesame oil and extra uncooked enokitakes.