Korean Kim­chi Stew with Pork Belly and Tofu (Kim­chi-jji­gae)

SERVES 4; photo p. 45 Ac­tive: 30 min. To­tal: 40 min.

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“This is the quin­tes­sen­tial Korean house­hold dish,” says Choi, who adds that she ate a ver­sion of this tangy stew on av­er­age four times a week when she was grow­ing up. “It would be my last meal on earth if I had to pick one.” Spicy and sat­is­fy­ing, the dish is also ex­tremely ver­sa­tile: Ac­cord­ing to cus­tom, you can put in any pro­tein you want. In this ver­sion, meaty and rich chunks of pork belly meld won­der­fully with the deep, tart, fer­mented fla­vor of the kim­chi.

Tbsp. un­salted but­ter (1 oz.) large gar­lic clove, coarsely chopped lb. skinned pork belly, sliced into 1-inch chunks small white onion (3 oz.), coarsely chopped cups kim­chi (16 oz.), coarsely chopped and juices re­served cup firm tofu (8 oz.), cut into 1-inch cubes tsp. fish sauce tsp. sesame oil tsp. soy sauce medium scal­lions, coarsely chopped Thinly sliced toasted nori, for

top­ping (op­tional) Steamed white rice, for serv­ing

1 In a medium pot set over medium heat, melt the but­ter. When the foam sub­sides, add the gar­lic and cook, stir­ring, un­til fra­grant but not yet browned, 30–45 sec­onds. Add the pork belly and cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til some of the fat has ren­dered and the meat is be­gin­ning to crisp around the edges, 4–5 min­utes. Add the onion and cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til soft­ened slightly, about 2 min­utes. Add the kim­chi and its juices and 3 cups cold wa­ter. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to main­tain a strong sim­mer. Cook un­til the pork is just ten­der and the onions are soft, 10–12 min­utes. Add the tofu, fish sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce, and sim­mer un­til the tofu is heated through, 3–5 min­utes more.

2 Re­move the pot from the heat. Di­vide the stew among 4 bowls, and top each with chopped scal­lions and a pinch of toasted nori. Serve with white rice on the side.

“It’s the per­son— it’s the knowl­edge that you bring to it and the lessons that you learn with each batch that make your kim­chi your own.”

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