A Very Canadian Chigae (or Jjigae) Recipe (Kimchi Soup or Stew)

When I saw Tigress post about Kimchi soup I became very curious.  I’ve been meaning to cook up her recipe but didn’t really get around to it (which is foolish because my feline friend can cook).  It was one of those things that just slipped back into the depths of my mind until about 5:00AM this morning.

I’ve been in an odd habit of surfing Instagram at 5:00AM.  I search for food tags and I’m fascinated.  Since most people upload content to the app as they take it, Instagram kind of lets you travel the world at any given moment.  Searching “#FOOD” at 5:00AM Eastern reveals very few North American pictures and a slew of posts from the other side of the world, mostly in different languages.  I LOVE IT!

A Very Canadian Chigae (or Jjigae) Recipe (Kimchi Soup or Stew) Kimchi goodpic Cooking Recipes

My early morning food trips generally take me to Asia.  This morning I saw a picture of Chigae which is the Korean name for Kimchi stew and I was reminded that I had to get me a bowl of some sour soup.

My recipe is a bit of a riff on tradition – it fuses the flavors of Ontario that I happen to have in abundance including my cabbage and carrot kimchi, leeks, garlic and maple syrup.  It’s not for purists but it is fantastic!  It’s salty, filled with umami, sour and has the slightest touch of sweet.  The tofu is welcome relief from the heat of our kimchi (thankfully we both enjoy spicy things) and the rice adds some additional texture.

This is also a very fast and super convenient meal for a busy evening.


  • 5 cups kimchi with some of the brine
  • 1-3 leeks
  • garlic (as much as you like)
  • water
  • 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons of sesame oil or 5 tablespoons of tahini
  • 0.5 -1 package of firm tofu cut into cubes and pat dry.
  • Oil or lard for frying tofu
  • Rice (we did 2 cups)

Yield: enough for 4-6 people.


  1. The rice takes longest so cook it first (we put it in a rice cooked with 3+ cups of water and stir once).
  2. Place tofu on the side.
  3. Place remaining ingredients in a large pot.
  4. Cover the ingredients with water.
  5. Gently simmer for 25 minutes.
  6. 10 minutes before the simmer finishes, warm a heavy pan over medium-high.  Add oil and continue to heat till nearly smoking.
  7. Fry the tofu taking care not to crowd pan (you may need to do two batches).  Don’t worry about making it crispy – this is adding color (when you add it to the soup it will lose any texture gained from frying).

Serve in large bowls either topped with rice or place rice on side.


  • You can add the green part of your leeks to the rice as it cooks, just remove before serving.
  • You may wish to add hot sauce or chile flakes to your taste.  Our kimchi is very hot and needed none.


  1. awesomeness!

Leave a Reply