i’ll admit it. there are times when i don’t really feel like spending an hour or two making a spread large enough to feed the russian army. sometimes i just want to cook something quick and easy, and in this weather, the less i use the stove the better.
yesterday was one of those lazy days, and i found myself with an abundance of kimchi on my hands. while normally i would default to kimchi hot pot (one of my favorite autumnal foods in japan), the “hot” part of hot pot didn’t sound that appealing in the 34ºc heat. instead, i decided to go for something with which i could enjoy an ice-cold beer.
and as soon as i thought the words “ice cold beer,” buta-kimchi sprang to mind.
buta-kimchi (pork and kimchi stir-fry)
- kimchi (store-bought or homemade)
- thinly sliced pork
- half an onion
- soy sauce
- green onion
- sesame oil
- shirataki (optional)
- slice open your bag of shirataki noodles, and drain the liquid. it is going to stink, so brace yourself. that extremely weird fishy smell is a result of the konnyaku potato, from which shirataki is made. anyway, first thing is first. we have to get rid of that stink. put your shirataki in a sieve or a colander and run cold water over them for a few minutes, tossing them with your hands a few times. once finished, let them drain.
- you have options regarding the shirataki. a lot of people like to make what is called “shirataki rice,” in which you cut the shirataki into super short pieces. i personally enjoy them extra long because they are easier to handle and don’t end up everywhere while you are stirring your stir-fry, but i’ll leave it up to you.
- slice the onion into relatively thick slices. remember, it is important that the onions in this stir-fry have a little bit of crunchy texture to them. thin onions will quickly turn limp when sautéed over high heat, and we don’t want that.
- heat up a frying pan with a tiny bit of oil, and once it gets to medium-high heat, add the shirataki. they might shriek a little bit as the moisture escapes. if it seems like there is too much water in the pan, feel free to drain it all. the goal is to toughen up the noodles a little bit and evaporate most of the water the noodles have absorbed in their packaging. when they start to turn a little bit opaque, but them in a bowl and set them aside.
- rinse out your pan and add a tiny bit of oil. bring the pan to high heat and throw in your pork. make sure that the pork doesn’t ball up as you cook it or the texture of your dish will be ruined. you want to have thin ribbons of meat mixed in your stir-fry, not meatballs. if your pork is thin enough, it should only take a few minutes to cook. once finished, put it in a bowl and set it aside.
- add the onions to the pan with any remaining pork fats and cook them over medium-high heat until they start to change color ever so slightly. then, add the shirataki, two splashes of soy sauce, and a spoonful of sugar. give the pan a quick stir to make sure the sugar doesn’t burn and the sauces are evenly distributed among the noodles.
- introduce the star of the show. two giant scoops of kimchi should do it. give it a good hard stir.
- when the shirataki and onions smell like they are soaking up the flavor (and color) of the kimchi swimmingly, reintroduce the pork. stir and cook over high heat for one or two more minutes, and then kill the heat. drizzle with a little bit of sesame oil.
- pour the content of the pan onto a plate, and garnish with a handful of thinly sliced green onions. serve with white rice or a huge bowl of steamed mung bean sprouts.
- break out the beer. there is a reason that this dish can be found in almost any snack bar across japan, and that is because the sweet/spicy/sour flavor combination is a heavy drinker’s dream. eat, drink, and be merry. and when you finally hit the hay, sleep deeply and dream of korea.