Friday, August 14, 2015

Fish Roe Stew | Ahl Jjigae (알찌개)

My mom was a fantastic cook. I still remember a moment when my late grandfather was sick in the hospital and my mom was like, "Gross, I don't want him eating disgusting hospital jello." Even though we'd all thrown on our shoes, ready to go visit him, she made us wait while she whipped up a batch of soon tofu jjigae and packaged it up. When we got to the hospital, my grandpa smiled with relief and gobbled it down and complimented Mom on her stellar cooking.

Mom also made great kalbi, miyuk guk, and she made the best kimchi. But, there was also a host of dishes she never made at home that we only enjoyed when we dined out; whether it was because she couldn't be bothered to make it or she preferred it made for her, I couldn't tell you. Ahl jjigae was one of those dishes. It's so good and so simple, I'm not sure why she wouldn't make it for us at home. Luckily, I'm the boss of my own kitchen these days and I love making this stew. It's definitely not for everyone (finding an egg sac in one's dish isn't v. exciting for squeamish people) but I think it's super delicious.
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon oil (neutral oil like canola or vegetable)
1 tablespoon hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
¼ cup chopped kimchi
2 to 3 cups stock (fish stock, vegetable stock, chicken stock, or beef stock)
2 teaspoons bean paste (dwenjang)
2 teaspoons hot pepper paste (gochujang)
¼ lb. tofu
handful rice cakes
1 seasoned pollack roe
handful bean sprouts
1 scallion, chopped

The steps to making this jjigae are v. similar to making soon tofu jjigae. Start by heating a stone pot (or heavy bottomed saucepan) over medium heat.
Add in oil and hot pepper flakes and stir until coated and the oil starts to take on a red color. Then, add in the kimchi and let it cook for about 3 minutes. Pour in the stock and give the whole thing a good stir.
To further flavor the stew, stir in bean paste and hot pepper paste and bring to a boil. Then, stir in tofu and rice cakes and cook until the rice cakes are almost tender. Nestle in the roe and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the roe is opaque and cooked through.
Just before you're ready to serve, stir in some bean sprouts and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped scallions.
Serve with a bowl of rice and various other banchan.
This soup is spicy and fishy in a good way. The roe is briny and I love the tender texture. It's the type of spicy stew that totally hits the spot when I'm craving Korean food and I love that I can easily enjoy this at home.
Here's the recipe page:

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