Recipe: korean beef short rib kimchi stew (jjigae)
We got a proper snow last Thursday. Usually the first inch of snow marks the first snow of the season, but we got four inches! At the start it was a light snow that covered the deck. When I let Neva out into it, she hugged the edge of the house, remaining under the eaves – almost afraid to step on the snow. I was concerned. Had she forgotten all of the snow she played in as a wee puppy back in May and June? She had never seen it fall from the sky before and she stood there, watching it intently. By the time she went back out onto the deck for her second visit, she was already trying to eat the snow. Neva shoved her nose into it and put paw prints all over the white canvas. She asked to go back outside another 20 times that morning – just so she could play in the snow. Looks like Neva IS our puppy after all! I didn’t take any photos of Neva’s discovery phase because I was busy playing with the video and slo-mo on my iPhone. So if you want to see those videos and other shenanigans pertaining to Neva, find me on instagram at @jenyuphoto.
Over the weekend, we took Neva into the high country for a little walkie walk. She had a blast. Jeremy and I kept trying to gauge how she’ll do when we’re on skis, but the best way to know is to take her out on a ski tour. And the only way to do that is to wait for more snow. I will say that we were pleasantly surprised at how much more snow there was in the high country – about a half foot on average. Jeremy worried that Neva would get too cold in the snow (she has yet to grow her winter coat and her belly is still barely covered in baby fuzz). When we stopped to check on how she was, her hind legs were trembling – not from cold, but because she was SO EXCITED to keep going up the trail. Crazy little dog. [And she is quite little. I looked up Kaweah’s old records and found she weighed in at 51 pounds at 6 months of age. Neva was 31 pounds at 6 months.]
alpine lakes are good for your soul
four of my favorite things: jeremy, neva, mountains, and snow
Snow is a game changer. It turns the backcountry into a different kind of playground. I no longer feel as if I have to beat the sun when I get outside and I don’t dread the heat of midday (or day, for that matter). Oh, and I can cook again! We don’t have air conditioning in the mountains, so we try to keep the exothermic kitchen activities to a minimum in summer. Once the temperature turns, cooking is a great way to feed our pie holes AND warm up the house. Thermodynamics always wins in the end, so don’t be fightin’ it. Months ago, someone posted a photo of their dinner at a Korean restaurant – something steaming, spicy and stew-like. At the time I couldn’t even wrap my mind around eating stew in the dead of summer while a feral little puppy was running my life. But now… now I’ve had the time to research some recipes, the puppy is more dog than puppy, and it’s finally cold enough to justify making jjigae – a Korean short rib kimchi stew. You know I’m all over that one.
rice cakes (tteok) can be found at good asian grocers in the frozen or refrigerated sections
rice cakes, kimchi, onions, hondashi, pepper, short ribs, butter, garlic, salt, vegetable oil, mirin, sesame oil
The first thing to do is caramelize two pounds of onions. Don’t be in a rush when you caramelize onions, because you won’t get caramelized onions, but burnt onions. Caramelization takes time, so give yourself at least 45 minutes. If you live in my neck of the woods 8500 feet above sea-level, give it more like 90 minutes. The key is to give it time, keep the heat just low enough so that the onions cook, but don’t burn, and stir occasionally.
melt the butter and vegetable oil
sauté the onions
when the onions turn translucent, reduce the heat
stir and cook and stir and cook until the onions are a rich golden color
Once the onions are done, put them in a pressure cooker or a stock pot (depending on how you want to cook your jjigae). Keep the sauté pan around though. Next you’ll season the short ribs with salt and pepper, and then sear them on each side in the sauté pan. Once those are done, drop them on top of the onions in your pot. Don’t wash that sauté pan, yet! All of the browned bits on the pan are called fond and you want that flavor going into your stew, not down the drain. Deglaze the pan with the kimchi over high heat. Rub the kimchi around like a sponge, getting all of those flavors into the liquid, then add that to your stew along with the dashi. You can purchase dashi (Japanese sea stock) or dashi granules. It’s easy to keep dashi granules (hondashi) in the refrigerator, and a half tablespoon yields 3 cups of stock.
season the short ribs with salt and pepper
sear the short ribs
place the short ribs in the pot with the onions
deglaze the sauté pan with kimchi
add the kimchi to the pot
pour the dashi in
If using a pressure cooker, cook the jjigae on high for an hour and let it release naturally. But you don’t have to use a pressure cooker if you don’t have one or if you have a fear of physics. If you want to cook the jjigae conventionally, bring the soup to a boil then pop a lid on top and reduce to a simmer. Let that simmer for about two to two and a half hours or until the short rib meat is tender. While that is cooking, you can prep your toppings. Toppings can be whatever you like, but vegetables are a good start. I went with enoki mushrooms, carrots, bean sprouts, green onions, and sesame seeds – for flavor, texture, and color.
toppings for the stew: green onions, enoki mushrooms, carrots, mung bean sprouts, black and white toasted sesame seeds
When the stew is done simmering or the pressure cooker has released, you’ll want to heat the sesame oil in a sauté pan and fry up the garlic until it releases its fragrance (about 30 seconds). Add the rice cakes to the pan and sauté until the cakes begin to turn a light brown (it’s quite subtle). The cakes, when raw, feel like brittle plastic. When they are heated, they soften up and become chewy. Once the rice cakes are light golden, add them to the jjigae and simmer until the cakes are soft. This takes about 5 minutes or so. If you don’t want all of the fat from the short ribs in your stew, you can refrigerate the stew after it comes out of the pressure cooker (or after it has simmered for a couple of hours in a regular pot) and remove the fat when it has solidified. This will probably extend the jjigae into two days rather than a single day, but it’s an option.
after the pressure cooker is opened
sauté the garlic in sesame oil
fry the rice cakes until light golden
add the rice cakes to the jjigae and cook another 5 minutes
stir in the mirin
ladle it up
While the color of the stew might make one think that this is particularly spicy, the cooking seems to mellow the kimchi out. If you want more heat, then do as I did and have some (more) kimchi on the side. The jjigae has a wonderfully deep flavor with kimchi, dashi, beef, and caramelized onions contributing their goodness to make this a heady and satisfying stew. I actually added more rice cakes because they do a nice job of soaking up the broth and the cakes have a pleasantly satisfying, chewy texture. And don’t forget the toppings! The crunchy, cold, fresh vegetables are a terrific contrast to the melt-in-your-mouth, rich jjigae. Perfect for those chilly evenings.
top with fresh vegetables, green onions, and sesame seeds
i like mine with extra kimchi and spicy cucumbers on the side
Korean Beef Short Rib Kimchi Stew (Jjigae)
from the aimless cook
2 lbs. yellow onions
2 tbsps vegetable oil
2 tbsps butter
2-3 lbs. beef short ribs
ground black pepper
2 cups kimchi
3 cups Japanese dashi (1/2 tbsp dashi granules and 3 cups hot water)
2 tbsps sesame oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups korean rice cakes (tteok)
1/4 cup mirin
fresh mung bean sprouts
green onions, sliced
carrot, cut into thin strips
white and black toasted sesame seeds
Caramelize the onions: Cut the onions into 1/4-inch slices. Melt the vegetable oil and butter over high heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onions, reduce the heat to medium, and sauté until the onions turn translucent. Stir occasionally, reducing the heat as needed to prevent burning. This is a slow process that cannot be rushed! Continue to cook until the onions turn a deep rich brown (without burning), about 45 minutes (it takes me 90 minutes which I guess is due to my elevation). When the onions are done, place them in the bottom of a pressure cooker (if using) or a large stock pot.
Cook the jjigae: Generously season the beef short ribs on all sides with salt and pepper. Using the same pan that you used for the caramelized onions, set the pan on high heat. Sear the ribs on four sides, about 2 minutes per side until nicely browned. Remove the ribs from the sauté pan to the pot with the caramelized onions. Deglaze the sauté pan with the kimchi over high heat, rubbing the kimchi around the pan to sop up the fond from the short ribs. When the bottom of the pan is mostly clean, scrape the kimchi and juices into the pot with the onions and beef ribs. Pour the dashi into the pot. If using a pressure cooker, cook on high for 1 hour and allow natural release. If using a conventional stock pot, bring the contents to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer for 2 to 2.5 hours until the short ribs are tender.
Finish the jjigae: When the jjigae is almost done cooking, heat the sesame oil in a large sauté pan. Sauté the garlic until fragrant (about 30 seconds), then add the rice cakes and stir-fry until lightly browned. Stir the rice cakes into the jjigae and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the rice cakes are tender and chewy. Season the jjigae with salt to taste, then stir in the mirin. Serve the jiggae topped with bean sprouts, green onions, carrot, enoki mushrooms, and white and black toasted sesame seeds. Serves 4.
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