Along with butter, ketchup, and chili sauce, one of the key items I have in my fridge at all times is a jar of kimchi. This addiction started a few years ago. I had been a casual fan for a while, eating it periodically in Korean restaurants. But after a one-week trip to Seoul in 2008, where kimchi and an assortment of other banchan (side dishes) are given to you with every restaurant entree, I became hooked.
Since then, other than during periods of moving and lengthy traveling, a jar of kimchi has been a kitchen staple. I top off noodle dishes with it. Serve it on the side with Korean braised short ribs and other beef dishes. Top off fried eggs with it. Or just eat it straight from the jar as a (very healthy!) snack.
Another favorite dish I like to use kimchi in is a stir-fry with pork belly or thickly-cut bacon. (My version is very similar to the Korean buta kimchi but uses regular chili sauce instead of gochujang, or sweetened Korean chili sauce.) To make it, you simply stir-fry the pork until it's nice and crispy, then cook the onions, garlic, scallions, and kimchi before adding the spicy sesame-scented sauce. It's easy to prepare but will look very impressive when you set it on the dinner table. It also tastes incredible, like the pork, kimchi, and sauce were just meant to go together.
Pork Belly and Kimchi Stir-fry
- 12 ounces pork belly or thickly-cut bacon
- 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 scallion, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup kimchi
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
- If using whole pork belly instead of bacon, place the pork belly in the freezer for 20 minutes to tighten it up for easier slicing. Slice the pork belly into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then into small bite-sized pieces about 1-inch in diameter. (For the bacon, just cut into small bite-sized pieces about 1-inch in diameter.)
- Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir-fry the pork belly for 3 to 4 minutes, until crispy, then turn off the heat. Remove the pork belly and set aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the pan.
- Turn the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, scallion whites, and kimchi and cook for another minute, until the kimchi is heated through. Return the pork belly to the pan. Add the soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, and chili sauce and stir to coat. Transfer to a plate, sprinkle the scallion greens and white sesame seeds on top, and serve.