Your viewing "Stew" (4 posts).

Tonight I made faux osso bucco for dinner, using grass-fed beef shank instead of veal. I used this recipe from Epicurious as the foundation, making some adjustments based on the ingredients in my kitchen. I used red wine instead of white, one beef shank instead of four, water instead of beef stock, and tomato paste instead of diced tomatoes. I also omitted the butter and bacon and increased the amount of garlic.

It took about two hours for the beef to become fork-tender. For me, the real star of the dish was the gremolata. I had no idea what a difference some chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon zest could make. It adds another dimension, a burst of fresh, spring air into what might otherwise be a heavy braise.

I tried the dish with both garnacha and fino. It tasted great with both. The red wine complements the meat and wine, while the fino goes well with the lemon zest in the gremolata.

Dinner isn't this fancy every night. But when it is, I wish I could serve it to the world.


My second attempt at soondubu jjigae was excellent (see lackluster first attempt, here), thanks to my mom's rescue.  This doesn't taste like BCD Tofu.  It tastes homemade, which I prefer. 

Also, this recipe is not the soondubu jjigae recipe, and I don't know if such a recipe exists.  One Google search demonsrates how widely recipes differ.  For example, many soondubu jjigae recipes call for a paste composed primarily of ground red chili pepper, soy sauce, and garlic.  I skipped the paste and added the chili pepper straight into the pot, and I didn't detect a big difference. 

I want you to try this so badly that I would make it for you myself, if I happened to have space for a party in my apartment.  Maybe I'm inflating the merits of this recipe—after all, I'm a novice home cook who only learned how poach chicken last year.  But I believe you will devour this one.  Don't be intimidated by the ingredients.  This is a true one-pot meal that requires minimal prep and time.  You can find most of the ingredients at any Korean grocery store or online.

Use about half a pound or less pork or other protein (chicken, beef, seafood).  Or leave out meat entirely and keep it vegetarian (in which case, I would recommend lots of kimchi on top of your other vegetables).

If you're using pork, beef, or chicken, cook the meat first.  But don't stress.  This is a one-pot meal.

After the meat is cooked, add a few tablespoons of gochugaru (Korean ground red pepper).  Adjust to match your spice preference.  Gochugaru is essential, so I wouldn't try to use a substitute.

Add water.  Crucial: Do not overfill the pot.  Don't let the water pass the midway mark.  You'll end up with a watery soup and an overflowing pot instead of a concentrated stew.  Such was the drowning doom of my first soondubu jjiage attempt.

Add hondashi powder if you want this to be quick.  If you're a purist, then go ahead and make your own stock with kelp and dried anchovies before beginning to make this stew.

Add kimchi and vegetables.  Keep everything boiling.

Add big spoonfuls of tofu.  Silken tofu is fine, though soondubu has an even softer texture (so soft, it comes in a tube).

Finally, add some minced saewootjut (fermented shrimp).  Don't worry.  It doesn't taste as scary as it looks.  If you can't find fermented shrimp, then use salt, or maybe fish sauce.

See?  Harmless.

The end result: Korean comfort food in your own home.

Mom's Soondubu Jjigae with Pork

Serves 2-4
"Dubu" is Korean for "tofu," and "jjigae" (JJEE-geh) is the ubiquitous Korean term for what you might know as a stew.  This is not THE way to make soondubu jjigae, just one version of my mom's method.  My mom likes food that tastes good but doesn't take all day to make (unless we're talking kimchi).  I used zucchini, but onions and mushrooms are also common.  There's no need to stick to pork.  Soondubu jjigae can be made with a variety of proteins-chicken, beef, pork, and seafood (ex. clams, shrimp, mussels) are common.  You might add seafood later in the process, since it requires less time to cook.  You can also leave out the meat entirely and keep the stew vegetarian (ex. kimchi soondubu jjigae!).  Feel free to experiment!


1/2 lb. or less of pork (or chicken, or beef), thinly sliced
A few tsp. sesame oil
3-5 tbsp. gochugaru (GOH-choo-GAH-roo) (Korean ground red chili pepper)
2-2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. hondashi (instant fish soup stock)
Approx. 1 cup napa cabbage kimchi, no juice
Approx. 1 cup zucchini (or other vegetables), chopped
Approx. 1 tsp. saewootjot (SEH-woot-jut) (fermented shrimp), minced
1 14-oz container silken tofu, or 1 tube soondubu (extra soft tofu made for soondubu jjigae)

Optional: Chopped green onion, sesame seeds, and eggs (one per person)


  1. Heat some sesame oil in a medium sized pot over medium high heat.  Add the pork and cook until the meat is no longer raw.
  2. Add the gochugaru to the pot and mix well with the pork. Then add the water and bring to a boil (be sure you fill the pot less than halfway).  Add the hondashi, and stir until it dissolves.
  3. Add the zucchini and kimchi, and stir.  Boil for about five minutes.
  4. Add very large spoonfuls of the tofu, whichever kind you're using.  Be sure to keep the pieces large, and try not to break them up while stirring.  Boil for a few more minutes. 
  5. Stir in the saewootjot, then crack egg(s) into the pot while it's boiling.  If desired, garnish with green onion and/or sesame seeds before serving.  Serve as-is or portion into separate bowls (separate from your rice bowl).  Eat by spooning the jjigae over rice.  (I prefer doing this bite by bite instead of dumping my rice into the jjigae).


  • If your local grocery store doesn't stock gochugaru, I found some on Amazon, like this coarse gochugaru and this finely ground version.  I used a coarsely ground powder for my jjigae.
  • Silken tofu is really a fine substitute for soondubu.  If you're a soondubu jjigae diehard, though, you will appreciate the even softer texture of the soondubu, which you can look for in the refrigerated section of a Korean grocery store.
  • If you're a purist, you could substitute dried kelp and dried anchovies for hondashi, but who's looking?  My hondashi has MSG in it, but I don't mind using it if I'm the only one eating.

This day is shaping up to be a very good Friday, and it's not even brunch hour.  The air is cool, gently filling my living room and curling around the flowers and tree branches littering the space.  Los Angeles offers just enough of the seasons to make you grateful for the moment but not so much to make you bitter.  Perpetual contentment.

Above you see last night's dinner: Seafood soondubu jjigae.  It's one of my favorite Korean comfort foods--hot, spicy, flavored with meat and vegetables, never too heavy.  Jjigae (JEE-geh) is the Korean word for stew, and there are endless types: Doenjang jjigae (fermented soybean) and kimchi jjigae are two you may already know.  The double j means the letter should explode from your tongue--a hard sound, not the flabby j in jam.  Soondubu (SOON-doo-boo) is soft tofu, available in Korean (and maybe Chinese) grocery stores.  It differs from silken tofu, though you can use silken tofu as a substitute.

I'm not posting a recipe at this time because, being a perfectionist, I wasn't satisfied with the result.  The flavor was very good, almost right, but I think I added too much water.  So let the photo whet your appetite until I get it right.  When I do, a recipe will follow!

In the meantime, what are your weekend plans?

Aside from work, of which I should speak far less, I'm looking forward to getting out of my apartment and reading in a cafe.  I know it rings cliche, but much time has passed since the last time I found myself lingering over coffee in a semi-public space.

Also, I'm excited to start testing some recipes for Steamy Kitchen!  Yes, you read correctly.  Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen is coming out with her second cookbook, full of healthful, easy, Asian recipes.  Somehow I was one of the lucky fifty chosen to help test as many of these recipes as I can between now and March 20.  I've scanned them all; they look no more difficult than your average weeknight dinner, and more, they sound delicious.  Check back here for photos (though, of course, to find the recipes, you'll have to buy the cookbook).

I waver in the murky grey* between cuisine purist and American melting pot, but I do think there is value in simplified versions of a cuisine.  They introduce you to new flavors in an accessible way, and should you feel so inclined, you can always try the truer recipes later. 

Enough of that tangent.  I hope you have a great weekend.  Get out and enjoy the sunshine!  Or if you're in one of those places with snow and low temperatures, go outside and feel your nose burn. 

* Grey: Imagine me in elementary school.  With only a partly English speaking household and a school that was militant about "correct" everything (grammar, syntax, punctuation, you name it), I found much joy and escape in Roald Dahl's children's books.  You can say I was obsessed.  For better or for worse, this was happening during my formative years, and not long after I had learned English.  Being a blank slate, I absorbed everything.  Like "grey."  It wasn't until high school, when a teacher marked me down a point for spelling gray incorrectly, that I learned my language wasn't entirely American.  Is that really what it was all about?



Browning the oxtails

In goes the rest: red wine, broth, vegetables, fresh herbs

Thanks for your recommendations on a Le Creuset christening dish!  I decided to make oxtail, after C's tip and spying a Jamaican Oxtail recipe in NYT. 

Growing up, I was familiar with the Korean version of oxtail soup - a light broth flavored by the rich bone of the oxtail.  My mom would have us flavor the meat with a dip of soy sauce, scallions, some other ingredients I don't recall.  The meat fell off the bone, and the cartilage on the end of the bone was chewy. 

The recipe below is a mishmash that doesn't squarely fit into any one cuisine - the bell pepper is Jamaican, the red wine Spanish, the ginger Asian.  And it is undoubtedly the best stew I have ever made-which doesn't say much given my limited repertoire.  But it gave me instant childhood flashbacks, it was that good.

If you haven't tried oxtail, you should.  Throwing a few chopped vegetables in a pot is easy, and the flavor obscures the minimal effort you put in to cooking.  Try it!  You may never enjoy ordinary beef stew the same way again.


Oxtail (2 large, 2 small)
A bunch of fresh parsley and thyme
Chopped vegetables:
     Bell pepper, half each of yellow and orange, chopped
     1 yellow onion, chopped
     A handful of small carrots, chopped
     2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
About 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Red wine
Broth (I used low-sodium chicken broth)

How To:

 [1] Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in your cast iron pot at medium high heat.  When the oil is hot, add your oxtail and brown the meat on all sides.  This takes a few minutes.  Let the meat get golden brown.  Transfer the meat to a plate.

To your pot, add your garlic and onion.  Cook until the onion is semi-transluscent, a few minutes.  Add the rest of your chopped vegetables.  Stir that around a bit, maybe for another minute or so.  Add your herbs.

[3] Return the oxtail to the pot.  Add broth and almost an equal part red wine, just until your oxtail is covered.  Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 3-5 hours, or until the oxtail meat falls off the bone.


I was surprised to find Whole Foods didn't have any oxtail.  It turns out they had simply run out, so I ran over to Mitsuwa to find a neatly wrapped package of oxtail, just right for a two-quart vessel.  You should be able to find oxtail, if not in your chain grocery store, then in a so-called ethnic market.

The bell pepper surprised me in how much flavor and aroma it emitted.  Without it, this might have been a more straightforward stew (meat + red wine).   You can experiment and try adding new ingredients, knowing it will soften and mellow after a long, slow cook.

The ingredient portions are what I eyeballed to fit inside my pot.  You probably would want to scale up for anything bigger than two quarts.

The longer you cook meat on the bone, the better the flavor and texture.  Make sure to cook on low heat.  The stew tasted good after three hours but even better the next day.

I was excited to use the herbs from my garden (ahem, pot).  The parsley is getting out of control, and I already have two types of thyme.  If you have the space and the sun, start your own pot!

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