I’ve been reading a few Japanese and Korean food blogs lately, and I realized I haven’t shared much of that type of cooking with you. When I can get the ingredients (most of them are pretty easily accessible), I really like to cook these cuisines — and have been meaning to add Chinese to the repertoire, but it’s so overwhelmingly vast I usually get a little intimidated.
I have studied Japanese a little bit, and used to maintain a food blog in Japanese. I’ve been meaning to brush up my language skills again and perhaps I should do a little of what I used to, which mostly involved buying Orange Page magazines at the Japanese grocery store and then spending several hours translating recipes. Of course, I was also in a Japanese immersion class, so that helped too, I imagine.
The first recipe I translated is one I still love, because it’s very simple and incredibly delicious. I think it tastes good at room temperature, so I used to take it for lunch a lot. The Japanese name given in the magazine was “buta kimuchi don,” or pork and kimchi rice bowl. The only thing you might have trouble finding is the kochujang, but it’s worth hunting down, because it’s good on nearly everything anyway. Especially hard-boiled eggs, or steak sandwiches.
Anyway, a few years ago I was very proud of this translation. It took me longer than any that followed, because I had no idea about the sentence structure or vocabulary used in Japanese recipes. And it’s still probably my favorite. I hope you’ll give it a shot, and I’ll try to remember to share more of these kinds of recipes. I find Japanese and Korean cuisines both to be healthy and budget friendly, and they’re more accessible than most people think.
Pork-Kimchi Rice Bowl (2 servings)
- 1/3lb. pork, sliced thin. The original recipe calls for pork belly, which is uncured bacon, basically, but you can use tenderloin. If you can find the pork belly, try it.
- 1/2c cabbage kimchi
- 1/4 onion, sliced (I’ll try to do a photo tutorial on standard Japanese slicing direction for an onion, but basically: go from pole to pole; this avoids having “wormy” looking slices and gives a nicer texture)
- sliced green onions
- 1 1/2T mirin
- 1T soy sauce
- 1T kochujang, a red fermented Korean pepper paste that is so freaking unbelievably good
- 1 1/2t sugar
- 1 1/2t sesame oil
- 1t grated garlic (you can mince, but if you have a ceramic grater like for ginger, use it)
- 1 1/2t dried red chiles (I buy big bags at the Korean grocery but have also made do with the kind you get in packets from a pizza place)
- a pinch of white sesame seeds
Roughly chop the kimchi into bite-sized pieces. The original recipe calls for squeezing some of the juice out with a paper towel but I believe this is heresy. Place the pork in a frying pan, but don’t turn the heat on yet. The original recipe calls for adding each ingredient from mirin on down, in order, and massaging each into the pork as you go. I admit I tend to just put it all in at once and then work it in nicely with my fingers. I sometimes do this ahead of time in a Ziploc and let it marinate for half an hour or so.
Put the pan on the stove, turn the burner up to medium heat, and add another teaspoon or two of sesame oil to the pan. When the pork starts to brown, add the onions and green onions, and fry for a few minutes until the pork is cooked through.
Serve on top of a bowl of hot white rice and you’re done.