Warm up, with this spicy kimchi stew that’s made with with tender shiitake mushrooms and crispy pan-fried tofu! Easy, vegan, and packed with spicy flavor, this cozy stew is hearty enough to make a meal of and perfect on cold winter days.
Making kimchi is my own weird personal holiday tradition. I tried giving it out as holiday gifts a few years back, which was not the best idea. I have a few select people in my life who are very appreciative of homemade kimchi, but most folks seem to prefer cookies.
So I quit it with the kimchi gifting, but not before the kimchi holiday tradition became ingrained in my brain. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas if I’m not elbow deep in a bowl of napa cabbage and chili flakes.
Fortunately, I love kimchi and my husband and I are fine to devour a big batch over the course of January. Also fortunately, there are lots of warming wintry dishes I can put my homemade kimchi in, like bibimbap, kimchi fried rice, and this kimchi stew!
Kimchi stew is actually my favorite when it’s really cold outside. It’s flavorful and spicy, and if you serve it piping hot it’s sure to warm you up.
How to Make Kimchi Stew
Start by pan-frying some tofu in a bit of oil. Check out my guide here for tips on how to get your tofu perfectly crispy. Once the tofu has browned, take it out of the pot, add some oil, and cook an onion just until softened up. Next, add some garlic, and then the kimchi.
Cook the kimchi for a minute or two, then add some broth and shiitake mushrooms. Optionally, you can also add some gochujang, which is a spicy fermented Korean red pepper paste. It’ll give your stew an awesome flavor and some extra kick. I highly recommend it! Simmer the stew for a bit, and add your tofu back in at the end.
Taste-test the stew and adjust any seasonings before serving. Add some salt or soy sauce if needed (kimchi is pretty salty though, so go easy), extra gochujang, or, if your kimchi is relatively new and not too sour, some rice vinegar.
Grab a spoon and dig in!
Tips for Making Amazing Kimchi Stew
- Not all kimchi is vegan, so make sure to check the ingredients if using store-bought. I’ve used Mother In Law’s brand in the past and it worked well.
- You’ll find lots of variation in flavor among different batches and brands of kimchi. Some are spicier than others, some are more sour, some include different veggies. So be sure to adjust the seasonings in your stew to accommodate for this. Add a splash of rice vinegar, a dash of soy sauce, or a few extra spoonfuls of gochujang if needed.
- In a hurry? Cook your tofu in a separate pot or skillet while the stew simmers. I was more interested in saving dishes when I made this batch, so I cooked it in the same pot as the stew.
- Want to keep this recipe gluten-free? Use gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce and make sure your kimchi is gluten-free. (As far as I know, most are, but once I came across a recipe for kimchi that called for wheat flour.) Also either omit the gochujang or seek out a gluten-free brand (it looks like they exist, but may be tough to find). You can also try substituting a mix of sriracha and miso.
Need more guidance on how to make the perfect batch of vegan kimchi stew? Check out my video!
Warm up, with this spicy kimchi stew that's made with with tender shiitake mushrooms and crispy pan-fried tofu! Easy, vegan, and packed with spicy flavor, this cozy stew is hearty enough to make a meal of and perfect on cold winter days.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, or high-heat oil of choice, divided
- 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups vegan napa cabbage kimchi, roughly chopped
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps
- 2 tablespoons gochujang, or to taste (optional, but highly recommended)
- Soy sauce, to taste (if needed)
- Chopped scallions, for serving
Coat the bottom of a large nonstick pot with 1 tablespoon of oil and place it over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add the tofu in an even layer. Cook for about 10 minutes, flipping once or twice to achieve browning on multiple sides.
Transfer the tofu to a plate.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot and give it a minute to heat up.
When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.
Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute more, until very fragrant.
Add the kimchi to the pot and and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the broth and shittake mushrooms. Raise the heat and bring the liquid to a boil.
Lower the heat and allow the soup to simmer for about 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender.
Stir in the tofu and gochujang if using. Taste-test, season with soy sauce if needed, and adjust any other seasonings to your liking.
Ladle into bowls and top with scallions. Serve.