I lived in South Korea for about a year and a half as a missionary. When I first arrived, I didn’t really like kimchi and I thought seaweed paper was gross. By the time I left, kimchi tuna soup with rice wrapped in seaweed paper was one of my favorite meals.
We actually made kimchi soup for breakfast most days. It may not seem like breakfast food, but this salty, flavorful meal tasted so good in the morning.
In Korea, this soup is called 참치 김치찌개, which is transliterated to chamchi kimchi jjigae (tuna kimchi stew). I lived with Korean girls and they taught me this basic version of kimchi soup. The traditional version includes pork, tofu, and other seasonings, but this version is simpler and cheaper.
Koreans always told me how healthy kimchi was. But when I lived in Korea I never knew why. Kimchi is made when cabbage (along with some other ingredients) is submerged in a salty brine and then left at room temperature to ferment. The process is called lacto-fermentation and it produces healthy bacteria (probiotics). So, kimchi is healthy because the process of making it creates live bacteria that promote gut health, aid in digestion, and strengthen the immune system. Learn more about the benefits of eating fermented food here.
You’ll want to use older kimchi that has been fermenting for a while for kimchi soup. New kimchi won’t taste as good. Here’s one brand of kimchi you can buy online or Asian supermarkets have a variety of Korean kimchi too. And there’s something about Korean tuna that is so good. I don’t know if it’s actually any different, but it just seems to be better, you know? You can find Korean tuna at Asian supermarkets or order it here on Amazon. Or just use whatever canned tuna you have.
If buying the ingredients and making it seems intimidating, order it at a Korean restaurant first and try it out. The more you eat it the more you’ll love it. I could eat kimchi soup every day!
- 1 Tbsp butter, lard, tallow, or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ cups kimchi, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 can tuna
- 2½ cups water
- ½ cup kimchi broth (the juice in the kimchi jar)
- 1 tsp unrefined sea salt
- 1 green onion, chopped (optional)
- Heat a pot over medium heat and add the butter.
- Add the kimchi and tuna and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add water and kimchi broth and bring to a boil.
- Boil for 10-15 minutes.
- Season with salt, adding it gradually as you taste it.
- Add chopped green onion.
- Serve hot with a bowl of rice on the side.
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