Kimchi Stew with Chicken, Poached Egg and Konnyaku Noodles

kimchi_konnyaku_Just like every year when I go on my Japan holidays, I promised myself to keep on blogging from my hotel room and… once more somehow it didn’t work. I hope you will excuse me this long absence here and from my friends’ blogs. The trip was, as always, very enriching (especially since this time I made a short stop in Seoul too!), so I’m looking forward to sharing with you some of most recent food inspirations and discoveries in the future.

This loose interpretation of a kimchi soup is a delicious, filling but very light – or even diet! – dish I made several times before my holidays. It is not a traditional Korean recipe (especially since it contains Japanese products…), but in my opinion it shows very well the complexity matured old kimchi adds to hot dishes. In fact, the flavours are so rich, there is no need to have stock or even to think of any additional seasoning. Slightly spicy, slightly salty, tangy… the result is always perfect and the preparation effortless. Whether you add the konyaku (aka “zero calorie”) noodles or any other kind of noodles, the stew is delicious, warming and light. In short, perfect for cold days, especially when one isn’t keen on speding hours in the kitchen. Now that I’m back I sincerely regret having no more kimchi in the fridge…

If you have never heard about konnyaku (or shirataki) noodles, they are made from konjac (Amorphophallus konjac, also called devil’s tongue) by drying its corm, which is then reduced to flour and mixed with water to obtain a gelatinous substance, formed into noodles, blocks, “gnocchi”, ball-shaped products… all sold in plastic bags filled with water (although konnyaku powder also exists and can be added to drinks). Konnyaku products are all very rich in fiber and help digestion (they are called “broom for the stomach”… so don’t exaggerate and don’t have them for every single meal!). Due to their high water content konnyaku is known as “zero calorie”. All the derived products have become famous outside of Japan (especially among people who want to lose weight) and nowadays can be found in many “standard” shops too, but watch out: some have tofu, vegetable extracts or other ingredients added which might change their nutritional values. In this stew I have used udon-shaped konnyaku noodles, i.e. thicker and chewier (my favourite of all the konnyaku products)and you can perfectly replace them with normal udon or any noodles of your choice.

TIPS: If you have never used konnyaku products, take them out of their bag and rinse well. (Don’t be put off by the fishy smell. It will disappear.) Put the noodles (or any other konnyaku product) into a pan of boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. Rinse well under cold water and put aside. Now they are ready to be added to your stew or stir-fry.

The poached egg is not an obligatory item here of course, but as a big egg lover I was thrilled to discover dolsot (the Korean pot you see above) in which I can cook my soup, poach my egg and then bring to the table. In short, if you want the egg white to set in your soup, you will need either dolsot or a Japanese nabe dish or a small cast iron casserole/dutch oven (make sure it can be safely used on the stovetop, not only in the oven!).

If you don’t have any of these, I advise making the soup in a normal pan and poaching the egg in another one (or frying it), then adding it to the serving bowl. If you don’t mind the egg white being still wobbly and transparent, you can break the egg to your bowl just before serving.

You don’t have to stir-fry the chicken pieces, but I think it improves flavours of both the soup and the chicken meat.

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

1 teaspoon oil

1/2 small chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 small onion or shallot, sliced

3-4 heaped tablespoons of old (very sour) kimchi, cut into pieces

some kimchi juice (depends on how hot you want your stew)

500 ml – 750 ml (about 2-3 cups) hot water

1/2 portion of konnyaku noodles, rinsed and parboiled (see the TIPS above) or a whole package if you manage to eat it

1/3 courgette, 1/2 small sweet pepper or any vegetables of your choice, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 egg

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

green onions, chives or edible chrysanthemum leaves (I used these here)

Heat the oil in your bowl or casserole.

Stir-fry the chicken pieces and the onion slices at medium heat until the chicken is half cooked.

Lower the heat and add the kimchi.

Stir fry for a minute.

Add the water and the noodles and let the soup simmer for ten minutes.

(TIP: If you want your vegetables soft, you can add them now, but if you want them to remain crunchy, add them at the same time you break the egg into the dish).

Afterwards, add the vegetables, make a “nest” in the middle of the dish and delicately break an egg into it.

Cover with a lid and cook until the egg white is half-set (it will continue cooking, so if you want your yolk to remain runny, take the dish off the stovetop at this stage).

Sprinkle with chives, green onion or edible chrysanthemum leaves and add a teasponful of sesame oil just before serving.

I have also sprinkled some furikake (Japanese rice topping) on top. You can use freshly ground black pepper instead or powdered chilli or shichimi togarashi (Japanese spicy seasoning).

18 thoughts on “Kimchi Stew with Chicken, Poached Egg and Konnyaku Noodles

  1. A_Boleyn

    Unfortunately with my various texture and odor issues, konnyaku/shirataki noodles are unlikely to make it onto my menu in the near future. I recently made a wonderful gochujang braised and broiled pork tenderloin dish which has received positive feedback from various readers so at least I have a way of using up the tub of chili paste in my fridge. 🙂

    1. Sissi Post author

      Many people cannot stand the texture of konnyaku (the smell can be almost completely removed by what I mention in the tips). Personally I love chewy and slightly elastic food, so I love it.

  2. Eva Taylor

    I love adding a poached egg to many dishes but adding them to soup has eluded me! Such a clever idea Sissi. I am a soup fanatic, I adore flavourful broths and this one looks absolutely amazing.
    Hope you had a lovely holiday in the Far East, I know you are particularly fond of this area. I can’t wait to see more of your food inspiration too.
    I must have O.D. on those noodles because I just can’t eat them any longer, which is a darn shame because I used to love them.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Eva. It’s really great to have an individual cooking and serving pot like this Korean dolsot mostly because of the poached egg possibility! I’m addicted to eggs, so I was thrilled to learn I could add them in one more form to my meals.
      Thank you, I’ve had wonderful time. I still find it weird to cook after two weeks of eating out though 😉
      Such a pity you cannot eat konnyaku! I know I cannot eat them for example twice a day, but the lady at the Japanese shop had warned me not to do it when I first bought a package, so I just once did it as a test. Now I’m limiting myself to one meal a day maximum.

  3. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

    zero calorie noodles… where can I buy them by the truck load? LOL – funny enough before I even reached the italicized paragraph in your post I was off researching konyaku 🙂 how fascinating… sounds like a health food extraordinaire and what a great option – must see if I can track it down here; so curious about the taste. Your kimchi stew is gorgeous – can’t keep my eyes of of all the delicious ingredients and vibrance in this dish. So nourishing and one that I could eat over and over again. Welcome home dear Sissi – I hope your holidays were full of fun, inspiration and culinary adventure 🙂

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Kelly. I bet you can even buy it in organic food shops in the US (here they started to sell it in organic shops recently), but you will find it in every Japanese grocery shop.
      It doesn’t have any taste (a bit like cellophane noodles) and if you open the package there is a very unpleasant smell (fishy, which is weird…) but the smell can be removed (as I wrote in tips). Apart from their “diet” side, I love their texture, so I always have several packages in the kitchen.

  4. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Welcome back, and I hope you had a great time in Japan! Did you go to different cities this time besides your favorite city Tokyo? 🙂 I would love to hear what you ate and did! I wish I could tag along. I can’t ask you to come in hot summer when I’m in Japan…. I have to go back during this time when you travel! How awesome you could stop by Seoul too! I can see more great recipes coming from your site. 🙂 I love the shirtakai noodles you use. Such a healthy option! I love carbs too much and it’s dangerous. The egg on top is definitely calling me to make this dish. 😀

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thanks a lot, Nami. Once again Tokyo… but I was hesitating to visit another city and finally opted for a short stop in Korea! So my yearly trip to Asia was a bit different after several years 😉 Next year I plan to visit another city, but certainly not in the summer… I was so exhausted by the heat and humidity at the end of September I cannot even imagine how I’d survive the summer 😉 (This is why we started to go in October-November, to avoid the humidity and heat).
      Haha! I guess we’re all addicted to carbs 😉

  5. mjskitchen

    Bobby and I have started eating a noodle bowl of some time about once a week. We’ve become addicted. I love the looks and the sounds of this kimchi bowl!! Never having had nor seen nor heard of (until now) konnyaku noodles, I might have to substitute another noodle. I know it wouldn’t be the same but how could one go wrong with chicken, kinchi and an egg? 🙂 Great recipe Sissi!! Welcome back!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, MJ. Of course any noodles you like are great here! Konnyaku can be bought on internet in the US I think… if you don’t have a Japanese grocery shop nearby, but I think it’s also sold now in some organic shops.

  6. Three Cookies

    Me also has been absent:)

    Great recipe. I find the regular kimchi chigee to be too spicy and bold, so your milder version sounds great.

    Japan visit – hopefully next time we can coordinate and meet there. Might be fun:)

    Have a good weekend

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi, Mr. Three-Cookies! So nice to see you! I hope everything is ok. The kimchi soup’s heat depends on the kimchi’s heat, so I guess it depends how fiery your kimchi is! (Mine is different every time… since I don’t weigh/measure ingredients).
      Yes, it’d be nice to meet in Japan one day!

  7. wok with ray

    I wish you could post some beautiful photos of your trip. I can’t wait for my wife and I for our trip there next spring. Traditional ingredients or not, I still love this type of Korean soup because it’s just so comforting. I hope you had a wonderful trip to a beautiful place, Sissi.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Ray. I will have to disappoint you… I take less and less photographs the more I travel, so apart from badly lighted rare meals, I don’t have much to share from the visual point of view.
      Do you go to Korea or Japan? I hope you will enjoy the trip!

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