a truly chaotic 20 minutes of cooking

Home Movies Tuesday!

Hello and welcome to Home Movies Tuesday! If you’ve found your way over by some miracle but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:

If you could not tell already, Home Movies is a very lightly produced affair. They’re filmed in a very organic, off-the-cuff, and completely unrehearsed fashion (truly illustrates how Dan and our editors are VERY GOOD AT THEIR JOBS). But that’s exactly why I wanted to call them “Home Movies.” The phrase alone alludes to a casual intimacy, something natural and off-the-cuff.

Well, this week, we took that casual intimacy, off-the-cuffiness, unrehearsed-ness to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL. This week, Home Movies welcomes friend, cook, founder of Doshi, and all-around champion of good foods and positive vibes Susan Kim to the stage. It is chaos, it is charming (?), it is real. I’m sure you can tell (in the best way!).

Every time I go to describe people I love I feel like I’m writing in a yearbook and am prone to GUSHING, so I’ll keep it short and sweet by just saying Susan is one of the most special humans I know. She’s cooked at Chez Panisse, and also at my house. Two cool places, perhaps one cooler than the other! To know her is to love her, to eat her food is to love her. Susan, if you’re reading this, will you marry me?

Anyway, Susan and I exchanged many thoughts on what we thought would be the most fun thing to cook together for A Home Movie. After a lot of distracted conversations that ended up being decidedly NOT about A Home Movie, we landed on one of our mutual favorite foods of all time: sundubu jjigae, a Korean stew made of silken tofu (sundubu = tofu, jjigae = stew).

If this video just seems like cameras rolling with two people who absolutely did not figure any of this out beforehand, well, that’s correct! It’s just how we live. Fast and loose, casual and real, honest and free!

In an ideal world, the kimchi you’re using should be perfectly “ripe,” meaning it’s been fermented long enough to give you that funky, sour, developed flavor (all the reasons to love kimchi). When Suze and I were making this, our batch of kimchi was a little on the “young” side, so we compensated for lack of flavor by adding fish sauce (for funkiness) and rice wine vinegar (for acidity). Depending on what you’re working with, you may find that you don’t need either ingredient, which is why they’re listed as optional.

Re: the heat level, that is *also* a personal choice. I prefer mine on the spicy side. That said, I recently made a batch and served it to a friend who said “I have never had anything so spicy in my life” as I was drinking the broth from the bowl. So, go easy at first with the gochugaru and adjust as needed after adding the kimchi.

Click HERE for a printable PDF.

sundubu jjigae (kimchi tofu stew)

serves 4–6

As the name would indicate, the two most important ingredients here are kimchi and tofu. The kimchi should be “ripe,” as in, fermented long enough to give you the fermented flavor we’re after, and the tofu should be “silken,” as in, silky smooth (no, but seriously folks, get the silken, not the soft, which is decidedly less silky than silken). Think of this recipe as a guide— adjusting the saltiness, spiciness, funkiness, and tanginess as needed to compensate for the flavor of the kimchi (or lack thereof). As always, season as you go, deciding what’s right for you along the way.

2 tablespoons grapeseed, vegetable, or olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large scallion (or 2 regular scallions), thinly sliced, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons gochugaru (korean red chili flake), plus more
1/4 cup gochujang (korean red pepper paste), plus more
1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more for seasoning 
1 1/2–2 cups kimchi, coarsely chopped, plus ¼ – ½ cup kimchi juice
2 packages silken tofu, drained
Rice wine vinegar, as needed (optional) 
Fish sauce, as needed (optional)
Eggs, for serving 
Sesame oil, for serving
Radishes, baby turnips, thinly sliced scallions, and chopped perilla leaves for serving (optional)
Cooked rice, for serving
  1. In a large dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and scallion, and cook, stirring often, until they’re nicely softened but have no color, 5–7 minutes. Add the gochugaru and cook for a minute or two, just to toast and bloom the flakes. 

  2. Add the gochujang and cook, stirring often, until it turns a darker brick red (almost like tomato paste would) and starts to stick to the bottom of the pot, a minute or two. Add a splash of water and 1 tablespoon soy sauce, scraping up the stuck-on bits with a wooden spoon. 

  3. Add 4 cups water and increase the heat to medium-high. Add the kimchi and kimchi juice and bring to a strong simmer. Taste the broth and season with fish sauce, salt, or soy sauce (depending on what it needs, flavor-wise), reduce the heat to low, and gently simmer until all the flavors come together and the kimchi has softened, 10–15 minutes.

  4. When the broth is where you want it, gently add the block of tofu. Using a wooden spoon, gently break the block into large chunks (“gently” is important here, too much action and the tofu will fall apart and look like scrambled eggs). Let the tofu poach in the liquid (this firms up the texture) before breaking it up into smaller bite-sized pieces. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a splash of rice vinegar, fish sauce, or soy sauce as needed.

  5. To serve, divide the jjigae among bowls. Crack an egg in the stew, letting the hot broth lightly poach the white while leaving the yolk runny. Drizzle with sesame oil and top with scallions. Serve with rice, seasoned cucumbers, and other raw vegetables, and sesame oil and salt for dipping them.


BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE

This past summer, Susan started a pop-up called Doshi, serving Korean and farmers market-inspired foods packaged in a small but mighty box (Doshi is short for Doshirak, Korean for “packed meal” or “lunch box”).

These pop-ups had everything: rice balls with candied walnuts and anchovies, specialty fermented pickles, lightly battered and fried market vegetables, beautiful slices of poached chicken, griddled fish collars, and perfectly salty cold seaweed broth for sipping. Of course, they always sold out, Susan winning the hearts and minds of every single human in the borough (+ Queens).

If this sounds like heaven to you and you also live in New York, well then you are VERY MUCH IN LUCK. This week marks the start of Susan’s month-long residency at KIT (formerly MeMe’s Diner), a very cool pop-up space in Prospect Heights that hosts a rotating parade of chefs, cooks, makers, bakers, etc. Go see her, eat the foods, have a blast. You can find more details HERE.

Thank you for watching, see you next time for more Home Movies!