Pork Kimchi Stew (Kimchi Jjigae)

Kimchi Jjigae

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 700g (1.5 lbs) pork belly, cut in slices
  • 300g (2/3 lbs) kimchi, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, shredded
  • 2 Tbsps soy sauce (dark)
  • 1 Tbsp mirin
  • 2 Tbsp gochujang
  • 3 cups chicken or pork broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch green onion, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 package shimeji mushrooms, trimmed
  • 1/2 pkg (170g) medium tofu, sliced
  • butter

Directions

Sauté the pork on medium-high heat until browned. Add the chopped kimchi, reserving the kimchi liquid, and stir regularly until kimchi is heated fully. Add the water and broth. Add the soy sauce, mirin, gochujang, and kimchi liquid. Stir and cook until the stew starts to simmer. Stir in the shredded garlic. Add the mushroom and the green onions, stirring to mix. Lay the tofu across the top of the stew, spooning some of the stew over the tofu to coat. Cover the soup and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the mushrooms and tofu are cooked through. Spoon the stew into bowls and drop about 1 tsp of butter on the top of each bowl. Serve with a bowl of white rice.

And now for the details…

I know what you must be thinking… ummm… Emily, I didn’t realize you were Korean…? No, no I am not. And what do I know about authentic Korean cooking? Not much at all, except that what Korean food I have eaten is delicious and I will do what I can to recreate it. Particularly this stew. This stew was love at first bite when I tried it at Ogam Chicken. It has all the things you could hope for in a stew. The flavour is a mouth-watering combination of salty, umami-rich, spicy, and tangy. With the little chunks of pork, kimchi, and tofu, this stew is also quite hearty. Pair it with a bowl of white rice and it is pure magic.

Eating kimchi jjigae in restaurants, you often get it served in a hot stone bowl called a dolsot. I do have a dolsot that I received as a gift. But alas, I still have not used it, as it does not work so well (i.e. at all) on an induction stove. I will need to get myself a hot plate to resolve this issue! Until then, a heavy bottomed pot will need to do the job.

Cooking with new ingredients is always both scary and exciting. There were a number of ingredients in this recipe that I had never used for cooking until I made this stew the first time.

Gochujang, which is a chilli paste, was a brand new ingredient for me the first time I made jjigae. I find it more earthy than spicy, although it definitely does provide some heat. It’s a deep, rich red and has an almost smoky yet sweet quality to it that really deepens the flavour of the dish.

Kimchi itself was something I had eaten on a number occasions, but had never cooked with at home. My favourite is baechu kimchi, which is made from the whole Napa cabbage. Luckily, it is usually the easiest to find in stores as well. Kimchi can be quite different brand-to-brand, and the store I get my ingredients from also does some fresh house-made kimchi as well. They will vary in the level of tartness, saltiness, and spiciness, which will change the way the stew ultimately tastes. Play around with the different kinds to find one you enjoy.

Let’s get to cooking.

Start by preparing your ingredients. Cut the green onions into 1″ pieces and set them aside. Take the kimchi out of its liquid, allowing most of the liquid to drain back into its container (set the liquid aside, we will be using that!), and chop the kimchi roughly to get some bite-sized pieced. Set the kimchi aside. Trim the mushrooms and set them aside. I use shimeji mushrooms because I enjoy them so much, but if you prefer white or brown button mushrooms, simply cut them into quarters or halves, depending on the size of the mushrooms (cut them into 1/8th’s if they are really big). Slice the tofu into 5-6mm (~1/4″) slices and set aside. Lastly, cut the pork belly into small, bite-sized slices.

We start by cooking the pork belly. Many recipes will call to add the pork belly to the broth once it is prepared, but I like cooking the pork first, getting a nice build up of the pork fat as it renders, and caramelizing the meat slightly. Add the pork belly to your pot with the heat set at medium-high. Sauté until the meat has cooked through almost completely and has started to brown. Stir this regularly, as I find the pork belly will try to stick to the bottom of the pot. If there is an large amount of fat pooling in the bottom of the pot, drain some, but keep the majority of the fat in the pot.

Once the pork belly is cooked through, add the kimchi to the pot, stirring regularly until any liquid that remained with the kimchi has cooked off and the kimchi is heated all the way through.

Next we start to add our liquid. Add the broth and the water, stirring while paying particular attention to the bottom of the pot to help stir in any of the caramelized pork that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot. Then, add the soy sauce, mirin and gochujang. Add a tablespoon or two of the kimchi liquid into the pot and allow everything to heat up until the stew starts to simmer.

Taste test the broth at this point to see if it is meeting your taste preference. Add more kimchi liquid if you want to increase the spiciness, saltiness and tartness of the broth. Now is also the point when you will add the shredded garlic to the stew. Lower the temperature to about medium or medium-low.

Next, add your mushrooms and green onions, and stir them into the broth. Then lay the tofu across the top, and spoon some of the broth over the tofu to coat it. I forgot to buy tofu the first time I made this for photos, so please excuse the, er, temporary costume (i.e. pot) change in this next photo.

Cover the pot an allow the stew to… well… stew… for about 8-10 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the tofu is heated through completely and everything is a nice, bubbly container of deliciousness.

Finally, we eat. Spoon the stew out into bowls, top with about 1 tsp of butter per bowl, and serve on its own or with a small bowl of cooked white rice.

Happy eating.

Homemade Holiday Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Ingredients

  • 680g (24 oz) fresh cranberries
  • 2 oranges, zested and juiced
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • dash of ground cloves

Directions

Add cranberries, juice and zest to a saucepan. Stir well and place on medium-low heat. Add sugar and spices and cook until cranberries have popped and sauce has thickened to desired consistency.

And now for the details…

Long time no post, and this one is so easy, it seems like a good one to come back with. Timely, too, since Christmas is tomorrow and turkey needs it’s cranberry sidekick!

Need help with the rest of turkey dinner? Fret not! Remember Mo’s the Turkey’s Grand Adventure? It can provide you with step by step instructions for a tasty turkey, starting with the brining of said turkey this evening!

Homemade cranberry sauce is super simple. Maybe not as simple as opening a can, but then again maybe it is, since you don’t have to attack it with a spoon to try and smoosh it down from a cylinder to try and make it look like something resembling sauce…

To start, simply toss the cranberries into a large-ish saucepan and place on the stove at medium-low heat.

Next, zest two oranges into the pot, then juice those same two oranges and add both zest and juice to the pot.

Stir in the sugar and spices, and let the sauce cook away, letting the cranberries cook and break down.

The great thing about cooking this sauce is that you do not need to keep constant watch. Let it simmer away, stirring occasionally, but it will cook for about 15-25 minutes as it slowly turns into a nice, thick sauce. As it cooks, the natural pectin in the cranberries will thicken up the sauce. If you want to cook it for longer but it is becoming too thick, add a little bit of water and let ‘er go.

In the end, you will have a nice thick sauce to have with delicious turkey!

Happy eating.

Crispy Maple Bacon Brussel Sprouts

Maple Bacon Brussel Sprouts

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 454g (1 lb) Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 4 slices bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 2 Tbsps butter
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • 2 Tbsps maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp chilli oil (optional)

Directions

Trim and halve the brussel sprouts. In a large pan, cook the lardons over medium-high heat until browned and crispy. Strain and remove to plate lined with paper towels, set aside. Put pan back on the heat, add the butter, oil, and garlic. Cook until butter is completely melted and garlic is slightly browned. Add sprouts and salt, toss to coat with butter/oil. Cook until sprouts are cooked through and slightly browned. Add the syrup and cook until syrup starts to caramelize the Brussels sprouts. Add the chilli oil and bacon back into the pan. Cook for 60 seconds, stirring constantly. Serve.

And now for the details…

This is one of my favourite side dishes. Crispy, sweet, and hot Brussel sprouts, that are rich and satisfying. This is saying a lot for me. I used to hate brussel sprouts. Remember my thoughts on cooked cabbage? (Reminder: smells like farts.) This extends to brussel sprouts. Especially if they have been steamed. Blech.

However, when I discovered pan fried brussel sprouts for the first time, I was shocked at the transformation of this veggie from a mushy, flatulent predicament, to a crispy, caramelized bundle of joy.

This recipe pulls together sweet, salty, spicy and rich. Is it still a vegetable dish? Oh sure. But are they just a vegetable when they’re browned, slightly crispy and oh so goooooood.

Let’s get started.

Prepare the brussel sprouts by washing them, trimming the ends, and cutting them in half. If any excess leaves come off when you trim the ends, dispose of those, especially if they are looking a little rough. Prepare the garlic by peeling it and cutting it into slices.

Before we start cooking the sprouts, we are going to cook the bacon. Cut the bacon into small slices, also known as lardons. Cook them on medium-high heat until they are browned and crispy. Set the bacon aside on a dish lined with paper towels. Drain off most of the bacon fat from the pan, but don’t worry about wiping it down.

Next, add the butter and oil to the pan, then add the garlic slices. Cook until the garlic has just started to brown, then add the brussel sprouts and season with salt to taste. Stir the sprouts regularly, allowing the sprouts to cook through and brown on the outsides.

Once the sprouts have cooked most of the way through, add the maple syrup and chilli oil to the pan. Stir, coating all the sprouts with the syrup, and allowing the syrup to start caramelizing and crisping up the sprouts.

Once the liquid has completely cooked down and the sprouts are your preferred level of brown and crispy, add the lardons back into the pan and cook for one more minute to heat everything through. Transfer to a dish and serve!

Happy eating.