At this time, we only had Daughter #1, and I just carried her homemade baby food with me. She was not a factor in our choices of food so we could choose almost anything we wanted. Usually it meant that we went super spicy, as at home I am not the spiciest of cooks, mainly because I don't think it is such a good idea for my tummy. Korean Fish Egg Stew is one spicy dish that comes out in a beautiful clay pot, boiling hot, fire red from Korean red chili powder, with chunks of creamy white tofu and bright pink egg peeking out for the soup. It is sprinkled with green scallions and often edible chrysanthemum (or ssukgaht 쑥갓). The effect is a beautiful mix of red, white, pink and green, and perhaps one could even think of it as Christmas colors in a bowl.
To eat it requires a huge bowl of rice, as the soup broth is super spicy, the tofu piping hot, and the fish eggs salty. But a bowl of rice makes the soup go down very easily, and often at the end of the consumption of this big clay pot of soup, husband and I were left wanting just a bit more. Instead we would get up, walk out and eat some other delicious street food as we walked up and down the street.
With kids, traditionally spicy Korean fish egg stew (Ahl Chigae) is out of the question. Even Son who loves spicy would find it too fiery for him. I make a more simplified version, much less spicy but very delicious with a bowl of rice. It is so simple to put together and easily enjoyed that I sometimes wonder why I'm not cooking it more often.
The special ingredient you need to make this soup is frozen pollack roe. This is one of those ingredients that I have really only ever seen at a bigger Korean market. This package is one that I think tastes good, is readily available, and maintains its freshness in the freezer well.
The rest of the ingredients are very simple, easily found and there are few ingredients to make a yummy chigae for dinner tonight.
Non-Spicy Korean Fish Egg Stew (Ahl chigae 알찌개)Serves 4
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil4 green onions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces5 cloves of garlic, minced1/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoons of Korean red chili powder (gochugaru 고추가루) This is optional if you like kick - 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder is mildly spicy.4 cups of water, or plain unseasoned beef stock (Korean style - if you make your own beef broth)6 oz seasoned pollack roe (available at your local Korean market)14 oz pack of medium firm tofu, cut into cubesCrushed toasted sesame seeds, optional
In a saucepan, over medium heat, add sesame oil, green onion, garlic, and Korean red chili powder. Cook until garlic is fragrant, but not brown.
Add water or broth. Bring to a boil. Add pollack roe.
Cook for an additional 5 minutes, then add tofu. Continue cooking until tofu is warmed through, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
Serve with steamed rice.
A bite with fish egg, scallion, and tofu.
My choice of sesame oil - I also prefer the smaller glass bottles as I think they stay fresher longer. (this is not a good price if you have a Chinese market nearby.)