I have been a fan of Korean entertainment for a few years now. There was even a time I was too addicted to Korean dramas that I stayed in the couch for days, only get up for food & shower, then spend all night watching ‘just another episode’ & hardly ever saw sunlight that whole month of Christmas holidays. That was not the only time that I lived solely for the sake of watching Korean drama & indulging myself in the characters’ sorrow. Super unhealthy lifestyle I know, but that was me, being a teenager then. Of course, as I get older (or should I say, as I have watched lots of series by now), the magic is kinda lost. But I still watch Korean series from time to time, I’m currently on Jang Ok Jung, anyone on the same boat?
Anyway, that is how Korea grows in me, as a beautiful country with gorgeous hanbok (How I wish I’d be able to try on one some day), pretty girls & handsome guys (with major plastic surgery) and interesting cuisine. Similarly to Vietnam, China or any other Asian countries, Korean cuisine revolves around rice. However, unlike us, their traditional meals are well known for having quite a number of other side dishes (so called banchan) to accompany rice. I have to say, I kinda admire their homecooks for preparing so many dishes per meal per day, must have cost them a hell of a lot of time, or their skill & speed must be insane. The basic table setting is called bansang, and usually consists of bap (rice), guk (soup), gochujang (chilli paste) or ganjang (soy sauce), jjigae (stew) and kimchi (fermented cabbage). (from Wikipedia)
(from the internet)
Learning about other countries’ cuisine is always very interesting, and I especially love French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean & (of course) Vietnamese. On countless occasions where I have a go at Korean dishes, they are always: kimchi jjigae, kimchi bokkeumbap, bibimbap. There are a lot, a lot more on my to cook list but that has to wait then. Anyway, shall we try kimchi jjigae first today? A word of warning, this stew is pretty hot it’ll warm you up instantly, especially for cold rainy day like today. So, loving kimchi & chilli? This is the best combination that could possibly be.
INGREDIENTS: (for 2)
- 200g pork belly, sliced
- 2 cups kimchi, chopped. Reserve the kimchi juice
- 1 onion, diced
- green onions, cut into 1″ length
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 200g soft tofu, sliced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbs sesame oil
- 1 tsp mirin
- 1/2 tbs gochujang (red pepper paste)
- 1/2 tbs gochugaru (red peper flake) (optional)
- 1 1/4 tsp sugar
- Heat sesame oil in a pot on medium high, then throw in the minced garlic. Add the pork and stir fry for about 3 minutes until it’s almost cooked.
- Then add the onion, gochujang and mix everything until well coated.
- Then add the chopped kimchi, green onions, sugar, gochugaru and keep stirring for another 2 minutes.
- Add the kimchi juice & water until the ingredients are submerged. Bring to the boil, add mirin & salt to taste then cover the pot, lower the heat to medium low, let it simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Throw in tofu, cover again and let cook for 10 minutes further. Occasionally pour the soup over the tofu to infuse more flavour.
- Turn off the heat, finish off with some green onions & pepper.
Serve with a good bowl of steamed rice. For a more authentic Korean experience, try the short-grained rice like sushi rice. This dish has really made the best use of the gloomy, rainy weather today. After all, what could be better than a bowl of hot stew in a cold day? And a few more episodes of Jang Ok Jung for me, I can’t wish for more!