Spicy tuna stew

Chamchi-jjigae 참치찌개

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!tuna stew with lettuce wrap


Serves 4

  • 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
  • lettuce
  • apple ssamjang



  1. Spread the onion on the bottom of a shallow pan. Add half of the sliced green chili peppers over top.
  2. Add the tuna, hot pepper paste, hot pepper flakes, soy sauce, and 1½ cup of water. add tunaadd water
  3. Cover the lid and cook for 10 minutes over medium high heat.
  4. Open and stir it with a wooden spoon to mix it up.chamchi jjigae
  5. Stir in the garlic, green onion, and the rest of the chopped green chili pepper.
  6. Let it cook another 3 to 5 minutes uncovered, to thicken the stew.thicken
  7. Remove from the heat and serve right away with rice, lettuce, and ssamjang.




  1. NancyDomini Lincoln, Nebraska joined 7/19 & has 1 comment

    This was soooooo delicious!! I made it exactly to recipe besides the chilis. Where I am the stores have been out of a lot so I used thai dried chili and it still turned out so good!!! I am so happy today! The apple ssamjang was so delicious too!! I am so happy you shared this tasty recipe, thank you Maangchi!

  2. veggieprince Portland, OR joined 5/20 & has 1 comment

    Made this for lunch today with the spinach side-dish and green tea! Such an easy and delicious recipe. My local korean market was sold out of korean green peppers, so I used four Serrano peppers instead and it turned out very well. I chopped the leftover lettuce up into bite-size pieces, topped some rice with the leftover ssamjang and stew, and added it to a bento box for dinner later at my job :)

  3. AbbyB Washington joined 5/20 & has 1 comment

    I just made this today for my SO, he doesn’t like lettuce so he ate it without so more for me! Also, I happen to be growing some shiso outside and I grabbed a few to use as wraps, it was soooo good. Thanks!

  4. minathens Athens, GA joined 5/20 & has 3 comments

    Hi Maangchi! I made this yesterday for my friend’s birthday dinner! We couldn’t go anywhere because of Coronavirus, so we stayed home and had this for dinner. It was easy and very delicious! The apple ssamjang is great, too! I’ll definitely make this one again. Also, I just got your cookbook and am really enjoying it.

    Sorry for the bad picture– I was too excited to eat to worry about taking a good one!

    See full size image

  5. EvilGrin joined 6/15 & has 41 comments

    A type of smaller tuna called bonito is cheap at ours. Its a bloody type of tuna so you have to soak it well to remove the blood. Skipjack is usually cheap too and a little better. They are both one of the cheaper fish especially if you live near the coast.

  6. BeelzeBabe Finland joined 9/18 & has 8 comments

    This is absolutely divine, and so easy to make. I added some sweet corn and diced cucumber into the wraps to add a little “fresh juicy” flavour for contrast… I think I’ll be eating this dish for at least a week, it’s so good I immediately want to make some more, haha!

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