Seafood Jeongol (해물전골)

Oh, hello, February. It's still winter and that sucks but February is when I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. At the same time, it's the month where I start to cherish winter. This is the season for cozy soups and melty cheese sandwiches and hot chocolates. I can't eat that kind of stuff when warm weather hits because 1) it's totally weather inappropriate and 2) I lose my cravings for that delicious stuff. Instead, I start to want fresh and bright salads and in-season fruits and green smoothies. Ugh, gross, right?

So, I'd like to shovel as much cozy food into my mouth whilst I still can. Today I have a really good Korean stewy soup for you. Actually, it's an amped up stew. Jjigae is what you'd call a stew. Jeongol is like jjigae but extra intense. Jjigae is known for one main ingredient, like silken tofu (soon tofu jjigae) or kimchi (kimchi jjiage) or crab (gae jjigae). Jeongol is known for it's plethora of ingredients and today I'm sharing a seafood one. It has fish and mussels and kimchi and noodles and watercress and tofu and so much deliciousness.

I previously shared a pretty pathetic jungol post where I v. lazily explained the steps. I'm here to remedy that laziness with a full on recipe post. Because everyone out there deserves to have proper jeongol.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 tablespoons hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
2 tablespoons oil
½ cup chopped kimchi
4 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons hot pepper paste (gochujang)
1 tablespoon bean paste (dwenjang)
3 cloves garlic, smashed
½ onion, chopped
1 hot pepper, sliced
4 oz. cubed tofu
8 oz. fish fillet (use something white, flaky, and tender like tilapia, red snapper, flounder, bass; I used Chilean sea bass)
8 oz. assorted shellfish (clams, shrimp, scallops, oyster, prawns, crab; I used mussels; octopus or squid would also be delicious, though they don't qualify as shellfish)
½ cup rice cakes
1 package udon noodles
handful watercress
2 scallions, chopped
4 oz. enoki mushrooms

Grab a wide and shallow pan. You want all of the ingredients to be able to cook evenly and that's why the wide and shallow bit is important.

Add the hot pepper flakes and oil the pan and turn the hob to medium heat. Stir the flakes and oil into a paste.
Before the hot pepper flakes burn, add in the kimchi and stock. Stir in the hot pepper paste and bean paste and toss in a few cloves of garlic. Bring to a nice simmer.
Add the tofu, onions, peppers, and fish to the soup. I always love adding tofu early to soups and stews because they're like sponges and will soak up all of that delicious flavor (instead of being bland and boring). Let this slowly boil for 10 minutes.
Once the fish is cooked through, nestle in the rice cakes and let them cook for about 5 minutes. Then, add in the udon noodles and shellfish. Let the jeongol cook just long enough to soften the noodles and for the shellfish to cook through.
Top it off with enoki mushrooms and a big handful of watercress and remove from the heat. The residual heat will soften the mushrooms and wilt the watercress.
The final flourish is to sprinkle with some scallions.
And then it's time to serve!
We made ourselves a little korean feast for dinner. In addition to the glorious jeongol, we had some Korean-style marinated beef (kalbi marinade on flap meat a.k.a. sirloin tips), cucumber kimchi, zucchini pancakes, and cabbage kimchi. Oh, and sticky rice, of course.
The jeongol is spicy and savory and delicious. It totally hits the spot on a cold winter evening. Make sure to dig into the pot for the noodles and rice cakes and tofu cubes. Slurp the soup out of the mussel shells. Grab some of the tender fish and watercress. Just go for it.
Here's the recipe page: