Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Month of Food Blogging (2 of 28) : Buta Kimchi (Pork belly with kimchi)

As soon as I launched into the first recipe post in this project, I realized that doing it directly in Google+ wasn't going to work. For starters, I couldn't put photos inline, just attach an album. So I'll be cross-posting from Blogger to Google+. It's OK, I'm still working the kinks out.

(If you have arrived through my blog, and are wondering what the heck is going on, look here for some context, and here for some pantry tips to get you started.)

For today's dish, I made buta kimchi. This is a staple Japanese tapas dish, traditionally made with pork belly. Since I rather spontaneously decided to start food blogging last night, I didn't have anything planned for today, but I did have some pork belly I picked up on Thursday as a treat for this weekend. Obviously this is not the healthiest dish when made with pork belly (although it's delicious), but you can just as easily make it with a much leaner cut, you'll just have to oil the pan first. I've made it here with white rice, at my husband's request, but brown rice would also improve its health value. The downside to brown rice is that it takes about 10 minutes longer to cook, which runs over our allotted 30 minutes. There are a couple of ways around this. 1) Soak your brown rice starting in the morning. Just throw it in a Ziploc in the fridge with some water. 2) Use precooked brown rice. (I often make a big batch and freeze it in half cup increments for lunches.)

Buta Kimchi

Servings: 2
Time: 30 minutes to table
Planning Ahead: None required
The Funny Stuff: Pork belly, kimchi, gochujang1 (optional).
Virtues: Lots of vegetables, high in fiber
Downsides: High in sodium, high in saturated fat as shown
Calories: 599 as shown here, not including the rice and salad. 344 if you use pork loin instead of belly.

8 oz. pork belly
8 oz. kimchi
1/2 medium onion
1 Tbsp. gochujang
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
2/3 c. rice (white or brown)
1 1/3 c. water

First, start the rice. This will take the full 30 minutes to cook, so get it going promptly. Put the water and rice in a pan, crank it all the way up to high until it starts to boil, then turn it back down to medium-low, or whatever a gentle simmer is for your stove.

Next, admire your pork belly.

Don't admire it for more than five minutes, however. We are on a timeline here. Next, take your pork belly and slice it thinly, like so.

Admire it again. It's so darned pretty!

Moving on. Take your half onion, and slice it into strips, pole to pole, and then cut it in half along the equator. (I find this goes easier if you leave the roots on until the last cut, they'll hold everything together.)

Coarsely chop the kimchi.

Heat a skillet to medium high. If you have a heavy skillet, as I do, you might want to get it warming before you chop the onions. Add the pork, and lightly brown it on both sides. If you're using pork belly, you won't need to oil the pan, but if you're using a leaner cut, add some cooking spray beforehand.

Remove the pork from the pan, and set it aside. If you used pork belly, you now have a bunch of fat. Wipe almost all of it out with a paper towel. Then add the onions to the pan.

Stirfry the onions in the remaining fat until they are slightly translucent, like so.

Add the kimchi back in, and stir for a minute or so. Then add the pork back in, and a splash of kimchi juice, and stir.

Turn the heat down to medium low, add the soy sauce and gochujang, and stir everything together.

Put a lid on it, and let it simmer while the rice is finishing. (It should have about ten minutes left at this point.)

You now have ten minutes to make a salad to round out the meal. If I were a restaurant, or throwing a dinner party, I'd make an elegant Asian coleslaw with miso-sesame dressing, or some such a thing, but we are trying to get dinner on the table here, and we've had a long day, and we're tired. Chop some lettuce and put it on a plate, along with whatever veggies you have on hand. Here's the final product, plated over rice.

Since we are not only feeding two adults but a baby, it's worth mentioning the baby's meal as well. She likes spicy food, but kimchi is a little too hot, and it makes a mess, so she gets finely minced pork, some rice, and a bit of cauliflower, for sort of a deconstructed rice bowl. (Not shown, the leftover spanokopita that rounded out her veggies.)

Gochujang is a sweet and spicy Korean pepper paste. However, if you don't have any around, don't despair. A fair substitute is equal parts miso paste and sriracha, with a pinch of sugar. If you also don't have sriracha, use miso, sugar, and ground ancho peppers.
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