This Kimchi Stew (called Kimchee-jjigae) may have been inspired by our recent travels to Maui but this is a classic Korean dish that can easily be adapted to what’s in season near you and to your personal preferences. It’s hearty and warm, comforting and one of the most-loved dishes of Korean cuisine.
As we continue on Maui week, this next recipe may make it seem more like it’s Korean week around here, but this particular dish Kimchi stew aka Kimchee-jjigae was a standout for me from our time on Maui – I have made it countless times since our stay at the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui. Being at the resort was truly one of the most magical parts of our stay on Maui, for so many reasons.
Because this trip to Maui was our anniversary trip after a very busy year, we both obviously really wanted to explore Maui and see all the sights, and truly experience what we could, but we also really wanted to relax and kick back without feeling holed up in a vibeless hotel. We also didn’t want have to go out and stock a kitchen at an Air BnB to cook our own meals. We wanted to stay somewhere that had all the amenities for us to fully settle in, while still getting the full vibes of Maui.
Staying at the Fairmont Kea Lani we were able to fully submerge ourselves in all things Maui, eat inspired cuisines, experience so many special moments and just truly enjoy our time on Maui. Eating at the Fairmont Kea Lani, probably my most favorite culinary experience was at Kō. This is their award winning signature restaurant, which offers plantation-inspired cuisine featuring Hawaiian, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese menu items.
By utilizing the island’s fresh produce, meat and seafood, Executive Chef Tyler Pang gives these authentic recipes a farm-fresh, contemporary twist. Beyond an incredible meal to celebrate our anniversary, I also had the opportunity to spend time in the kitchen with Chef Pang and it was such an honor. I loved hearing about all the stories of plantation workers who came from around the world to work the sugarcane fields, back in the plantain days, bringing their families’ recipes over to the Islands, their cooking techniques and recipes . I enjoyed learning how many of these traditional foods and recipes shifted over time given the limited resources and having access most often only to the foods native to Hawaii, dependent also on the seasons. Recipes begin to morph and meld together from different cultures and become their own thing – a culinary evolution. These are the food stories that truly fill me up.
In the kitchen with Chef Pang we made several dishes from their Inspire Your Energy menu. Inspire Your Energy is the wellness-inspired program at Fairmont Kea Lani created to give travelers activities they are passionate about while enjoying Wailea’s tropical surroundings, unique culture and distinct mana (power or energy) of the island. This comprehensive wellness program focuses on fitness, well-being, mindfulness and nutrition. I had the opportunity to experience much of these offerings and it was so lovely to enjoy the activities that are important to me, without feeling stuffed up in a basement gym or sucking down tasteless food.
Chef Pang walked me through the steps to make the Soondubu Jigae – a Korean tofu and kimchi stew that I instantly fell in love with and admittedly came home and made a casual half dozen times in the first 10 days after we arrived home. Pure comfort food with some of my most favorite flavors, tangy, spicy, cozy and comforting . The beauty of this dish is that given the season, the ingredients can evolve and change to what’s available, so you can change it up every time you make it. You can also stick with just the poached egg or add in your favorite protein, chicken, pork, fish or tofu, which is more traditional.
As you notice the name of the dish changed from what I am sharing here to the original dish at Kō. In the dish I cooked with Chef, soondubu means tofu and as I generally prefer to avoid soy, I adapted this Korean stew to be made without the tofu with the main focus being on the kimchi, hence the other traditional classic dish, Kimchee-jjigae or kimchi stew.
Kimchi (or kimchee) if you don’t know is a traditional Korean side dish made from salted and fermented vegetables, most commonly napa cabbage and Korean radishes, called daikon, with a variety of seasonings including chili powder, scallions, garlic, ginger, and jeotgal (salted seafood). For me, I always prefer and recommend getting the vast majority of your probiotics from fermented foods, so kimchi is always on hand at our place and it’s one of my personal favorites for food based probiotics.
I would have to assume much of the probiotic, healthy bacteria present in the kimchi will be killed off by the heat of the stew, (but no real way to know for certain), so I prefer to add additional kimchi to the top of the stew when serving. Just to be 100% certain I’m getting that fomented goodness. The flavor of the kimchi that gets simmered in the soup, however, remains, the pungent, the tangy and the a little bit spicy.
Note: this Kimchee-jjigae while labeled as gluten-free and paleo does contains gochujang, which often when store-bought can contain gluten, so please read labels if you need to be gluten-free, see recipe notes for my suggestions. I am always sure to buy gluten-free gocuhjang, but note that if you want to get all technical there is a small amount of rice and sugar in it (but also if you want to get technical there is sugar in all those chocolate chips in your paleo baked goods, so let’s not get all weird and dogmatic and stupid. It’s one tablespoon.) If you want to make your own paleo gochujang, find a recipe online, create your own or for a paleo fauxchujang, grab Nom Nom Paleo’s second cookbook, Ready or Not.
- 1 teaspoon ghee, olive oil or avocado oil
- ¾ cup sliced maui onion (you can also use Vidalia or Walla Walla Sweet Onions)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt (Red Hawaiian Alaean Salt if you've got it)
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free gochujang paste (aka kochujang paste)*
- ¾ cup sliced zucchini
- 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms, optional (or other mushroom of your choice)
- ½ cup kimchi with juice (kimchee) plus more for serving.
- 2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian)
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos, gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
- 1 whole pasture-raised egg (skip for vegan)
- 2 tablespoons sliced scallions
- bowl of steamed white rice or cauliflower rice
- If tofu is your thing, this is traditionally served with soft tofu. You can also add cooked pork or chicken, if you'd like.
- add in whatever other veggies you have on hand, carrots, kale, spinach or other greens, Brussels sprouts, daikon, bok choy or cabbage
- Heat small sauce pan on medium heat and add ghee or cooking oil.
- Stir in the sliced onions and saute for 3 minutes. Season the onions lightly with salt and stir in the gojuchang paste until combined.
- Add in the sliced zucchini, mushrooms and kimchi. Saute for another 2 minutes.
- Pour in the chicken stock, coconut aminos (soy or tamari) and add in any protein you are including, tofu, pork, chicken, etc).
- Simmer until the zucchini and mushrooms are tender about 3 more minutes.
- Now crack in the egg into the broth and let it poach soft.
- Taste the stew and adjust seasoning, as needed.
- Pour into serving kettle or dish if you are using, being careful not to break the egg.
- Sprinkle with scallions and additional kimchi, if you'd like. Serve.