Being the child of immigrants, I was always that kid that had the “stinky lunch” in the school cafeteria. The food of my culture would waft tantalizing, foreign smells across the cafeteria, emitting fragrances unknown to many of my peers. As I got older, I rebelled against the traditional Korean lunches that my mother made me, opting for the standard PB&J.
Only in college did I realize how much Korean food had formed a part of my identity. As a freshman living in the dorms, I was practically forced to eat pizza, salad, burgers, and PB&J on a daily basis as those were the only options available to me in the dining halls. Every chance I got, I went to the Korean restaurant (which was mediocre to say the least) on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue to get my dose of my cultural foods.
When I moved out of the Beverly Cleary dorms for my sophomore year, I relished the opportunity to cook Korean food! The first dish I learned to make for myself was 재육볶음 – Kimchi Pork Stir Fry! It is so easy, with very few ingredients and can be made in under 30 minutes!
The spicy fermented tang of kimchi combines with the creamy pork to make a match made in heaven! This dish is popular with Koreans and non-Koreans alike, with Matt (my white, Kentuckian partner who hasn’t been exposed to 재육볶음 until meeting me) raving about its delicious qualities.
Ingredients (Makes 2 servings):
- 1/2 lb of thinly sliced pork belly
- 2 cups of Kimchi (roughly chopped)
- 1 yellow sweet onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 tbsp of GoChuJang (red pepper paste)
- 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- green onions
- (optional) sesame seeds
- Heat a skillet until it becomes really hot. DO NOT OIL THE PAN! Add pork in a single layer and fry until the fat begins to render out. Flip. Cook until slightly browned Scrape pork off pan and stir-fry until fully cooked. Transfer onto a paper towel lined plate and drain.
- Leave just a tad of fat on the skillet. Cook the onion and kimchi for 2 minutes. Return the pork to the pan. Add the gochujang and soy sauce. Cook until the kimchi is fully cooked! It should take about 4-8 minutes. If there is any extra liquid at the bottom of the skillet, turn the heat up to high and reduce until the sauce just coats the meat and kimchi.
- Drizzle with sesame oil.
- Serve over rice. Top with sliced green onions and a sprinkling of sesame seeds.