Korean Kimchi Stew with Pork Belly and Tofu (Kimchi-jjigae)
SERVES 4; photo p. 45 Active: 30 min. Total: 40 min.
“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.”