January 29 may be the debut of the Year of the Dog, but I'm quite certain that 2006 will be the Year of Korean Food. It's going to be my personal mission this year to see that red (pepper) will be the new black, Korean barbecue will be the Asian answer to South Beach, and kimchee will be right up there with salsa and sauerkraut.
If you look on the bottom shelf, toward the back, of any Korean kitchen refrigerator, you will find at least one large jar of kimchee. A house full of Koreans can eat through jar after jar of kimchee, but there may be times when a jar of kimchee lasts a little longer than usual, resulting in kimchee that has pickled to a point that makes even a hard core Korean pucker. The kimchee hasn't gone bad (I doubt that it ever does, with all that salt and red pepper), but it's a little too sour to serve straight up. There are a lot of things to make with over-ripe kimchee. Kimchee jji-gae ("jj" is pronounced somewhere between "j" and "ch") is one of my favorites. Jji-gae is a general Korean term that is similar to a stew served in a hot pot.
Like Mario Batali explains that recipes for the exact same thing varying from house to house in Italy, so does the recipe for kimchee jji-gae differ from one Korean family to the next. Traditionally, kimchee jji-gae is made with pork (that's what my family does), but some use beef, some use Spam (which I just cant bring myself to categorize under "pork"), and others leave their kimchee jji-gae vegetarian and add tofu or nothing at all. You can adjust just about everything in the recipe below from my family.