Chamchi (tuna) Kimchi Jiggae (stew) is a very easy, healthy, basic Korean dish. Knowing how to make this yourself will save you trips to the corner restaurant and will impress your friends, Korean and foreign. This recipe is a combination between a couple that I have learnt either from Korean friends or on-line resources. The basic recipe is Kimchi jjigae, but I really like the tuna variation. It won’t be a train smash if you leave the tuna out. Alternatively you could replace it with thinly sliced pork (samgyeopsal) or beef. This recipe serves about 4-6 people.


two tins of tuna in oil (one hot and one not)

sesame oil

soy sauce

lots of garlic (at least 4 cloves)

shin kimchi (ask your local grocer or go to Home Plus/Lotte Mart)

1 Korean zucchini

bunch of Enoki Mushrooms ( 팽이버섯 Peng Beosot)

block of tofu

2-3 chopped scallions

Fire up that stove and chuck the tuna in a medium-sized pot, oil and all. Followed by the cut kimchi (I normally use about 500 grams, which is about half of the cabbage but it’s up to you). While that’s frying, toss in the scallions and garlic. Let that fry while you wash the rest of the veg. Dice the zucchini and cut the base off the mushrooms before you toss that on top of the fried kimchi. Top the vegetables with boiling water. Not everyone adds mushrooms and zucchini, but I like to add vegetables. Don’t drown it too much, it shouldn’t be too soupy, and you can always add more water later. Add one or two spoons of soy sauce and a little sesame oil. If you like it hot, you can add chilli powder or chopped chillies or chilli paste. Some people also add meat flavouring (aka msg). Boil it for about 10-20 minutes then add the sliced tofu. Boil for another 3-5 minutes. Serve with rice and the side dishes of your choice. I often serve it with crispy seaweed, bean sprouts, cucumber and bok choi.

If you live in South Africa, don’t dispair. There is a growing amount of Asian supermarkets who are stocking Korean kimchi. Just make sure that you buy shin kimchi. There are hundreds of variations of kimchi and if you buy the wrong one, or one thats too young, the stew will come out wrong. If you would like to try this recipe leave me note and I’ll let you know where you can get a hold of kimchi. If you know any Koreans in your area, ask them to let you know who stocks good kimchi. They’ll be glad to hook you up.

For another kimchi jiggae recipe watch Maangchi‘s video tutorial. I love this lady. She has a whole website with videos designed to teach foreigners how to cook Korean food. I have already tried a few of her recipes when I invited Korean guests for dinner, and I have only had good feedback. In this video she replaces the tuna with pork belly and she also shows how to make the bean sprout side dish I spoke about earlier. Her recipe is probably more authentically Korean than mine.