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Unfortunately, when I left Korea, I no longer had the luxury of enjoying amazing Kimchi jjigae. I could find it if I ventured all the way to Koreatown and diligently search. But that’s a lot of effort especially if I have to fight traffic gettin to DTLA. Its amazing to have, but its not worth fighting traffic to get disappointed.
Thats when I decided to find an easy recipe to make it. Luckily, it was super simple and tasted amazing. The Korean stew is normally eaten with rice. You would get a spoonful of rice and dip it into the stew. It tasted amazing like this, but I wanted something different. In fact, I could have gone keto and enjoyed the stew by itself, but I wanted to get more adventurous and try something new. I wanted to mesh a panini sandwich with this delicious kimchi jjigae.
This works because kimchi jjigae is suppose to be quite thick compared to other watery soup. When I used the fillings for my panini, there was no soup dripping everywhere. This is ideal for a panini because all the flavor from the stew is still clung to the meat. Even better is that most of the water content evaporated. That left me with an amazing sauce for dipping my panini into.
Hence, I started with craving for the amazing Korean stew and left with a new creation – kimchi jjigae panini. I ended up getting the best of both worlds, a super savory stew flavored panini. The best part of having my kimchi jjigae in a panini is that I don’t have to eat it slowly. Although its super delicious to dip every spoonful of rice into my stew, it takes a long time to eat. That method is definitely for savoring your food instead of devouring it. In a panini sandwich, I can take big bites and eat it all at once because its just that damn good.
Kimchi jjigae might seem difficult for those who never made it before, but it actually requires just a few ingredients. The main ones are the gochujang, gochugaru, garlic, and kimchi. The protein is interchangeable depending on what you want. You can add pork belly, tuna, or even other beef. Its all up to you. The baguette and cheese is simply for me to make a panini.
The first step is to cook the pork belly a bit. You don’t have to and can throw in the pork belly into the stew when its cooking, but I personally wanted some grilled texture in my meat instead of just boiled.
Next would be cooking the kimchi. Just like the pork belly, you could simply dump them all into the stew, but since I already cooked the pork belly, it had released some juices. Cooking the kimchi this way adds a nice added depth of flavor.
After the kimchi is cooked for a about 2 minutes, you can go ahead and add in water to start the stew.
Add in the gochujang.
Add in the garlic powder.
And finally stir in the gochujang. This will give it it the super red color and allow the stew to thicken a bit.
Next to add in the pork belly from earlier and cook in the flavor for a few minutes. Let it evaporate until there’s only 1/3 of the stew left.
When you’re scooping out the meat and kimchi, it should leave you with a tenth of the remaining stew because the meat and kimchi take up most of the space. With the stew having most of the water content evaporated, you’re left with a sauce that can be used for dipping.
After scooping out the fillings of the kimchi jjigae, we can finally make our panini sandwich. Open up the baguette and cover the whole surface. But not too much as we still have to layer it with cheese.
Completely cover the fillings with mozzarella cheese or a cheese of your own choice. The more the better.
Then bring out the trusty panini press, and press away. Flip every few minutes to give both sides a crispy touch and to meld the flavors together.
Viola! Its done! a kimchi jjigae infused panini sandwich with a kimchi jjigae sauce for dipping. Double the flavor and double the punch!
Take a bite of the kimchi jjigae panini as it is or rip pieces off and dip it into the kimchi jjigae sauce!
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