I’m calling this an “unpost” because so many people read my last post (thank you!) about cookbook publishing, I know this one is going to be woefully unread by comparison, and also because there is no actual recipe I followed. Heck, I don’t even have a photo of the finished dish. It’s such a nice thing when you’ve been cooking a cuisine for a while, in this case Korean food, that it becomes second nature. You get comfortable enough to improvise. I love that. Okay, so I guess this dish is called Buta Kimchi, and if you want a recipe, this one would be a good starting point. But now that I look at an actual recipe, I see how different mine is. You start with sliced pork belly, but I marinate mine for a while in some soy sauce, sesame oil, maybe a little rice vinegar, and some sesame seeds.
I add the marinated pork belly to a hot skillet to cook up, and then I mix in some of the red pepper paste. Don’t measure it too carefully, but keep in mind this stuff is pretty spicy. I’d say 1 to 2 tablespoons is good, but you know real Koreans like it spicy, right? By the way, sometimes I add ginger or garlic too, but it’s totally optional if you’re going to add kimchi later.
The kimchi really makes this dish, so it’s important you get the good stuff. Fortunately there are a lot of great artisan ones around now. The one in the photo above is made by the lady who owns the deli around the corner from me. (She’s sweet.) It’s a good balance, not too spicy, rich in flavor, with great textures. Watery or bland kimchi would ruin the whole dish.
I had this dish once with tofu, and I love it that way now. Don’t worry about it too much — you just toss in some cubed firm tofu after you’ve cooked the pork belly and red pepper for a while. It’s going to break up a little, but that’s okay.
And then you eat this with hot white rice, but the meal wouldn’t be complete without some soju. All the better if you have someone to share it with because of the Korean tradition of never serving yourself soju. You only pour it for the other guests at the table, and you never let their glasses run dry. Well, I think that’s the tradition, and it’s pretty cute when you see a couple out in a restaurant doing that.