Kimchi Chicken Stew

Our friends Mike and Morgan made an experimental batch of kimchi which I personally found lacking the crunch of previous batches. I pumped up its fizz and flavour by keeping it closed up tight in the fridge for a week, but it was still on the soft side.

What do you do with a jar of lovingly made, perfectly tasty, but slightly underwhelming kimchi? Make a stew! Kimchi stew was something I had heard of, but never had. The closest thing I’d had was a chicken version of gamjatang, from the Korean restaurant Core, which I occasionally crave.

I looked up some recipes for kimchi chicken stew, which I combined with a method for preparing chicken thighs that I like, plus I did some replacements based on what I had in my kitchen. The result was a simple-to-prepare stew whose biggest task – in both time and messiness – is deboning the chicken thighs, which is optional.

This made enough for 3 servings. You could also use an entire small chicken, cut into 10 pieces (as illustrated here).

In a pot, place:

  • 6 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
  • one yellow onion, unpeeled cut into 8 hunks
  • cold water, just a bit more than enough to cover the meat

Bring to a boil, then boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for another 10 minutes. Cooking the chicken this way lets the meat relax and keeps it tender and juicy.

Remove the chicken from the pot and spread it on a platter or lipped pan where it can cool to the touch, reserving the cooking broth and the onions. Use this time to clean the pot, since you need it again in a bit.

Once the meat has cooled, remove the skin and bones, while keeping most of the meat in largish hunks; 2 to 4 hunks of meat per thigh. Place the meat in a bowl because delicious juices that run out while it sits. Or, just remove the skin and leave the bone in. That also works.

Back in the now-clean pot, heat on medium high:

  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Once hot, add:

  • the reserved onion, peels discarded
  • 1 cup of kimchi

Let this start to simmer, then add:

  • the cooked chicken, along with any collected juice
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine, mirin, or other rice cooking wine
  • 8 (or more!) button mushrooms, halved
  • 3-4 frozen cubes of shiitake soaking liquid (optional – see note below)
  • 500 ml of reserved cooking broth
  • add salt or soya sauce, and black pepper, to your taste

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Use this time to make rice, if you like. Serve.

A couple notes:

The shiitake soaking liquid was reserved from that time you rehydrated shiitakes and then made ice cubes out of the soaking liquid. If you don’t have any, you could use fresh or rehydrated shiitakes in place of the button mushrooms, or some other flavourful mushrooms.

You will likely end up with leftover chicken broth. Keep this for a future use, or, if you are a barbarian, dump that liquid gold down the sink. Up to you.

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