Cascadia Haemul (Seafood) Jjigae

I recently returned from the Puget Sound where I caught several Market Squid using squid jigs and I also harvested Foolish Mussels and Plate Limpets exposed during a low tide. With a collection of fresh seafood in the refrigerator and the house blanketed in cool thick winter fog I though I might spice up the day with a fiery Cascadia haemul (seafood) jjigae. Jjigaes are a Korean dish similar to our western style stews with a couple differences namely, like many Korean foods, they are spicy and are typically cooked and served in special ceramic or stoneware bowls piping hot. I first encountered jjigaes when traveling in South Korea several years ago on a birdwatching trip during the winter. A hot bowl of jjigae was just the ticket to warm the body after a long day watching swans and cranes feeding in the Nakdong Estuary. They are also great after a long day wading in frigid waters in search of winter steelhead.

This jjigae is Pacific Northwesternized version of a basic seafood jjigae. I dialed back the spice a bit for my own sake but you can easily adjust the spiciness by putting more or less red pepper in the dish. Additionally, my significant other is not a big fan of “fishy” flavored dished so I used chicken stock from our own pastured broilers rather than the traditional anchovy or fish based stocks. I on the other hand love the taste of fish so I added a bit of Dashi stock to my pot to compensate. Fresh ingredients are a must in Korean cooking as it is quite normal for Koreans to stop by the market daily on the way home from work to get fresh seafood and vegetables rather than shopping once or twice a week and storing the weeks food in the fridge as Americans typically do. Once you start cooking things move fast so have everything ready to go beforehand.

Cascadia Haemul Jjigae


Ingredients (Serves 2)

1/4lb of thinly sliced venison backstraps (I used some from a Black-tailed Deer doe I took a while back)
8-10 plate limpets (scrub the shells and rinse the snails feet prior to use)
6-8 foolish mussels (or similar marine mussel species)
1 large market squid sliced (10+ inches or two smaller squid)
1 green onion sliced
1/4 cup sliced white or yellow onion
1/2 zucchini (diced)
2 eggs
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 cups chicken stock (you can substitute any stock you would like)
2 tbsp korean red pepper flakes
2 tbsp sesame oil
16 oz soft tofu

This dish can be cooked in the traditional Korean “hotpots” on the stovetop in which case you can split the ingredients down the middle for each bowl. You can readily find these traditional cooking and serving bowls at any Korean grocery (H-Mart is an easy place to get them in the Portland area). Alternatively you can use a normal metal stovetop pot which requires only a minimal change in the cooking times as they heat and cool faster than the traditional pots.

1. Add the sesame oil and the Korean red pepper flakes to the pot while cool and heat on medium heat until the flakes soften. Mix occasionally until a paste like consistency is formed.

2. Add the yellow or white diced onion, soy sauce, and the venison. Stir-fry in the traditional pot for 4 minutes and for 2-3 minutes in a metal pot.

3. Add the stock and bring to boil. Boil for 3 minutes.

4. Add the zucchini first and then the tofu in large chunks. Simmer for 3 minutes and stir lightly once.

5. Add the seafood and cook for 2 minutes. Be sure that the mussel shells have popped open.

6. Many Korean dishes are topped with an egg. This is optional here but I don’t see any reason to break with tradition. If you are using traditional hotpots turn off the heat and crack an egg into each pot and add the green onions. The residual heat of the pot will keep it boiling and cook the egg. For those using a metal pot add the egg but keep the heat going for another minute. Afterwards remove from heat and add the green onion.

7. Serve immediately with a side of steamed rice and kimchi (if you have some available). I like to take spoonfuls of rice and dip them in the broth before eating. This allows you to pick up the more subtle flavors of the dish too and adds some carbohydrates to this meaty, spicy, and savory dish.