Striped Bass and Kimchi Stew
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When it gives you jars of kimchi, make warming fish and kimchi stew.
I almost always have a jar of kimchi in my fridge. And you should, too. It comes in so handy for everything from fried rice to breakfast eggs to mac ‘n’ cheese.
This recipe is based on the classic Korean dish, kimchi-jjigae, the stew of kimchi, seafood, pork or tofu that comes bubbling ferociously in an iron pot to your table at a Korean restaurant.
Martinez’s version is a simplified one that can be made easily on a weeknight. The broth is simply kimchi and its juices mellowed with plain water. It’s fortified with ginger, garlic, gochujang, soy sauce, shiitake mushrooms, and shallots (I used spring onions).
Originally, this stew called for cod, but I went with wild striped bass. Rather than cutting the fish into chunks, I left the fillets whole for a more dramatic look. If you do the same, just know that you’ll have to cook the fish a little longer than the recipe originally stated.
Whatever your preference, the fish will poach gently in the liquid, leaving it supremely moist.
You can control the spiciness of the dish with the fire level of the kimchi you use and by the amount of gochujang. Some like it hot, and if you do, by all means, add a more liberal amount of the Korean pepper paste.
Ladle into bowls, and serve plenty of steamed rice alongside. It’s tangy, spicy and brothy. It provides a homey taste that’s assertive yet has a lightness because it’s fish-based.
It’s ideal on a cold or rainy night to warm you up from the inside out.
Striped Bass (Or Cod) and Kimchi Stew
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ pound shiitake, cremini or button mushrooms, halved
3 medium shallots, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 (4-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot-pepper paste) or white or yellow miso paste
2 cups kimchi with its juices
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pound boneless, skinless cod fillet (or pollock, halibut or other firm whitefish fillet), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces OR left whole (see Note)
Sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds, for serving
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Add shallots, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
Stir in gochujang and cook until fragrant and brick red, 1 minute. Stir in kimchi, scraping up any gochujang from the bottom of the pan, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Add soy sauce and 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until kimchi is tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in fish, cover, remove from heat and let sit until cooked through, about 5 minutes. (The residual heat from the stew will gently cook the fish.) Note: If you’re leaving the fish fillets whole, place fillets in the pot, bring liquid back up to a simmer, then cover, turn off heat, and allow fish to cook in the residual heat for about 5 minutes.
Divide stew among bowls and top with scallions and sesame seeds.
From Rick A. Martinez for the New York Times
More Ways to Enjoy Kimchi: Kimchi Mac and Cheese
And: Kimchi Pancake