In Korean cooking and eating, soup or stew is served at almost every meal. Sometimes stews play a starring role at the table, but usually they are a communal dish shared by everyone at the table like banchan. There are also some Korean restaurants and meals that offer stews (chigae, jjigae) after the main dish, like seafood restaurants with raw fish specialties.
Korean stews encompass the whole spectrum from vibrant to comforting to elegant, and they are always an essential part of Korean cuisine.
As essential to Korean homecooking as chicken noodle soup is to Americans, this thick, fragrant stew is a Korean comfort food especially popular in the cold winter months. Korean bean paste (daenjang) is similar to Japanese miso but is much more pungent and powerful.
Daenjang chigae is wonderfully hearty and can be made with almost any vegetables you have on hand. Variations also change according to the vegetables that are in season and to the geographic region of the cook or the restaurant. Although this is one dish where I actually prefer the more common zucchini, potato, and pepper combination of vegetables, it is delicious with carrots, other squashes, and turnips as well.
This spicy kimchi stew is served bubbling hot and makes good use of leftover or older kimchi. Fiery hot, hearty, and full of flavor, kimchichigae is great for cold winter days but Koreans can eat it anytime, anywhere.