If you’re as excited about Korean food as we are, you may have heard the rumblings about the fabulous new Korean Instant Pot Cookbook. In it, the super-flavorful, funky, vegetable-forward cuisine gets the fast-and-fresh treatment it deserves. Following in the footsteps of excellent Instant Pot cookbooks like those by Melissa Clark, Madhur Jaffrey and, er, us, it’s a fab addition to the pressure cooker canon.
Nancy Cho, author of The Easy Asian Cookbook for Slow Cookers, kept getting asked when her Instant Pot cookbook was coming out. (She found herself curious about how the gadget could handle long, slow-cooking Korean recipes such as galbijjim and sagol gomtang.) Co-author Selina Lee, who spent her childhood in Seoul, Korea, remembered her mother making rice, braised meats, and fish in their old pressure cooker, which sounded like a train.
Several years ago, the two had met at one of Selina’s Banchan Workshops in San Francisco, and bonded over a shared love of Korean cuisine. More recently, during the pandemic, the duo found themselves cooking at home a ton, and came to love Instant Pots for getting food on the table fast. They liked the hands-off approach, and with kids at home, they loved showing them the craft of Korean food in an IP. They started comparing notes.
“Together, we started sharing and geeking out over our recipe successes, which ultimately led to the cookbook you now have in your hands!” they write in their book.
The cookbook is beautiful, with a gorgeous snapshot of the proper Korean pantry to assemble (hello, gochujang!) and tons of great Korean-specific Instant Pot tips. (It had never occurred to us, for example, to have two silicone sealing rings, one for savory foods and one for sweet ones!) They taught us that Korean earthenware pots are safe to tuck into the IP, but you need a cup of water and a trivet underneath them. And they suggest a collapsible steamer basket for some of their recipes, because you can nestle it right into the pressure cooker.
So snap up the book, and to get a taste of the glorious work they’ve done here, try out the recipe below. As our friends at Serious Eats explain, “Stews (you’ll recognize them by the suffix “-jjigae”) are generally cooked quickly, bringing together a panopoly of ingredients, whereas Korean soups (with the suffix “-guk” or “-tang”) are brothy, spartan, and cooked for hours—or even days.”
This is a quicker soup, especially thanks to the pressure cooker, and it is a knockout—the definition of comfort food.
Kimchi Jjigae 김치찌개
This is the ultimate Korean comfort food. When the kimchi in your fridge starts to age and becomes a little fizzy, it is time to make kimchi jjigae. The flavor profile runs deep and so much hotness. Amp up the spice by adding more gochujang. In our household, my dad, sister, and I were such dubu (tofu) hoarders that my mother would have to use two packs to satiate our dubu needs. If you are also a dubu hoarder, please, use the entire pack for this fiery stew. – Nancy
Serves 4 to 6
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ lb pork shoulder or pork belly, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3 ½ cups kimchi
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup kimchi juice
2 tbsp gochujang
½ to 1 tsp white granulated sugar*
½ tsp kosher salt
3 cups stock (see Tip)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 (12 oz) block regular or firm tofu, cut lengthwise and then cut into ½-inch slices
1 tsp sesame oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Note: Taste your kimchi! Sugar can help neutralize sour kimchi flavors. If the kimchi is on the sweeter side, use little to no sugar. If the kimchi has no sweetness, add sugar. Adjust later to taste as needed.
- Add the vegetable oil to the inner pot and select the Sauté function. When the oil is shimmering, add pork and onion. Sauté until the pork is nearly cooked and the onion is tender, about 3 minutes.
- Add kimchi and garlic to the pot and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. Then add kimchi juice, gochujang, and stir until combined. Next, add sugar, kosher salt, stock, and soy sauce.
- Turn and lock the lid and move the steam release valve to the sealed position. Select Pressure Cook on High and program for 10 minutes. When the cooking is complete, quick-release manually. Unlock and carefully remove the lid.
- Select Sauté on High and add tofu. Ladle some broth over the tofu as it simmers and cook until the tofu is heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Drizzle in sesame oil and mix gently. Taste and add salt if needed. Add scallions.
- Transfer stew in serving bowls and serve with rice.
- For the base, use water, rice water, or preferred stock, like Man Neung Myeolchi Yooksu.
- For a vegetarian version, omit the pork and use shiitake mushrooms. Use either kelp broth, water, or rice water for the stock.
Reprinted with permission from Korean Instant Pot Cookbook, Nancy Cho and Selina Lee copyright 2021. Published by Rocketships & Wonderment.