With two of the worlds healthiest foods together in one delicious stew, there is no excuse not to try this. Nutrient-dense and probiotic-rich kimchi works together with fibre and protein-loaded beans to create a truly nutritious and delicious kimchi stew.
A kimchi stew, or kimchi jjigae, is comfort food in Korea. It usually incorporates pork or tofu or both. This version uses a selection of beans, enhancing its nutritional benefits while sacrificing none of the magnificent flavour.
Considered one of the national dishes of South Korea, kimchi is a spicy fermented vegetable dish. Originally intended to preserve vegetables for the winter, it has become a standard condiment or ingredient in Korean food year-round and worldwide. The distinctive spicy, salty, tangy, and umami-packed flavour is one reason for its popularity. However, there are also health benefits.
WebMD notes that:
The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in kimchi can provide important health benefits. Kimchi contains Choline, a natural compound vital for maintaining your cells, muscles, nervous system, and mood. Choline is also important for maintaining your memory.WebMD
Kimchi is also rich in probiotics. These can help improve both gastrointestinal and heart health. Healthline elaborates on nine benefits of kimchi.
Not only are beans rich in nutrients, fibre and protein, but they also taste great. They possess a subtle nuttiness and are a little creamy. But like tofu, rice, and potatoes, beans are best as a backing band, there to support the stars of the show. In this recipe, that is kimchi. But do check out these black and white beans in a phở inspired broth, or these mapo beans.
While the kimchi and the beans get the spotlight, there is another essential character in this cast. The base of this kimchi stew is a dashi stock. Dashi is not about contributing flavour itself. It enhances the taste of the other ingredients it is used with. Glutamates are the compound in dashi that is responsible for this flavour enhancing effect (aka umami).
Kimchi and Mixed Bean Stew
- 15 g kombu
- 30 g dried shiitake mushrooms around 4 mushrooms
- 1.5 liters water
Kimchi and mixed bean stew
- 1 onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 35 g fresh ginger
- 20 g butter
- 150 g fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 150 g button mushrooms
- 4 rehydrated shiitake mushrooms from the dashi
- 180 g kimchi drained (about 1 cup)
- 250 ml kimchi juice
- 3 Tbsp gochujang
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp chilli flakes optional – only for those who like a lot of heat
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 800 g assorted cooked beans I used christmas lima, garbanzo, black beans, and lentils
- Soak the kombu and dried shiitake mushrooms in the water for a few hours.
- Bring the water up to a boil, then remove from the heat.
- Discard the kombu.
- Allow the dashi to cool.
- Remove the mushrooms and reserve for the stew.
Kimchi and mixed bean stew
- Peel and finely dice the onion, garlic and ginger.
- Wipe and remove the stalks from the fresh shiitake mushrooms and button mushrooms. Dice.
- Remove the stalks then dice the rehydrated mushrooms that were used to make the dashi.
- In a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat, melt the butter and add the onion.
- Sauté the onion until soft, then add the diced fresh mushrooms.
- Sauté until any liquid expelled from the mushrooms has evaporated.
- Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant (2-3 more minutes).
- Add the drained kimchi, gochujang, sesame oil, diced rehydrated mushrooms, and smoked paprika.
- Stir over the heat for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the dashi, kimchi juice, and beans.
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Part way through, taste the stew for both seasoning and heat. There should have been enough salt in the kimchi, but add more if you think it needs it. Likewise, if you would like it to be more spicy, add some chilli flakes.