Today I’ll introduce you to another easy, fast, and delicious recipe for your family meals. Its main ingredient is canned tuna, so you don’t need many special ingredients to make it. It’s spicy, chunky tuna stew called chamchi-jjigae, which we Koreans usually eat ssam-style, in lettuce wraps with rice. I think it’s the perfect choice to share with your family members during this ongoing pandemic time: easy, fast, and delicious!
Anchovies are at their peak in Korea from April to May, and I used to make myeolchi-jeot (fermented salty anchovies) at that time by mixing sea salt and anchovies and storing it in my large earthenware crock. It took up to 1 year to ferment them well. While preparing the anchovies to ferment I’d always leave out some firm and nice looking ones so I could make this stew.
The best way to eat chamchi-jjigae is with lots of lettuce and rice. Take a lettuce leaf or two, add a bite of rice and then add some stew and ssamjang over top. Wrap it all up and eat it in one bite. Everyone at the table keeps eating and wrapping, eating and wrapping, until their rice is gone.
Now I’m living in New York City, far away from Korea, and I can’t get fresh, plump anchovies here in season. I missed the stew and wanted to make something similar. Canned tuna was easy to find, so I made this stew the same way and it turned out great! The good thing about this dish is that you don’t have to wait for anchovy season, you can enjoy it any time!
- 1 pound of canned tuna (2 large Korean canned tuna tins, or 4 regular-sized tins)
- 1 large onion (about 10 ounces), cut into chunks
- 2 large long hot green chili peppers (or 4 to 5 normal-sized green chili peppers), sliced
- 2 to 3 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
- 2 tablespoons gochu-garu (Korean hot pepper flakes)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 green onions, chopped
- apple ssamjang
- Spread the onion on the bottom of a shallow pan. Add half of the sliced green chili peppers over top.
- Add the tuna, hot pepper paste, hot pepper flakes, soy sauce, and 1½ cup of water.
- Cover the lid and cook for 10 minutes over medium high heat.
- Open and stir it with a wooden spoon to mix it up.
- Stir in the garlic, green onion, and the rest of the chopped green chili pepper.
- Let it cook another 3 to 5 minutes uncovered, to thicken the stew.
- Remove from the heat and serve right away with rice, lettuce, and ssamjang.