Jeyuk Bokkeum (제육볶음) (2)

I'm in Turks & Caicos people! Right now, I'm likely hanging out on a pristine beach or snorkeling. Sorry, did that make you jealous? Anyway, the thing I seem to miss the most when I'm on holiday is Korean food. I suppose the only exception to that would be if I went to Korea, in which case, I'd miss American food.

I don't crave just any Korean food. I always want something really spicy. Something like jeyuk bokkeum, which is a spicy stir-fried pork dish. When I was a kid, my mom would make this for us in the "plainest" way possible, meaning she'd just marinate the pork and serve it up. Once in while, if she was feeling cheeky, she'd add in a little kimchi and tofu. Now that I'm cooking for myself, I will add in everything we've got in the pantry and fridge.
1½ lbs sliced pork belly
½ apple or pear, grated
3 tablespoons hot pepper paste (gochujang)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon sesame oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
+ oil
+ 2 cups cabbage kimchi
+ noodles
+ tofu
+ dduk (rice cake)
+ mandu (dumplings)
+ scallions, chopped

Start by marinating the pork. Combine grated apple, grated ginger, soy sauce, hot pepper paste, sugar, honey, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and garlic in a bowl. Stir everything together.
Usually, sliced pork belly comes in long strips like this. It'll look like bacon, except it's not seasoned and it's not cured; it's just plain jane naked and ready to be marinated. Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces and drop it into the marinade. Stir it around to coat and then leave at room temperature for 30 minutes, if you're eating it right away. Or pop it in the fridge to marinate overnight.
For the bokkeum, I love to add in several "bonus" ingredients. I love kimchi, tofu, noodles, rice cakes, and dumplings. I use frozen rice cakes, usually, and I soak them in some water so that they'll soften before I add them to the dish.
Warm up the tofu, however you like. I like to slice up the tofu and just heat it up in some water to warm through. I much prefer steamed/boiled tofu to fried tofu (in this particular dish). But, if you're a fried tofu kind of guy/gal, then by all means, fry it up.
Boil the noodles. I used fresh noodles here, which are fantastic, but you can use glass noodles (sweet potato starch noodles, a.k.a. dangmyun), udon noodles, or even ramen noodles.
Arrange the tofu and noodles onto your serving dish. I like the tofu around the outside and the noodles in a little nest in the center.
While the tofu and noodles are going, you can totally be working on the pork. Start with a little bit of oil to coat the bottom of your skillet and turn the heat to medium. Add in the kimchi and cook until it's slightly translucent and the redness has dulled a bit, around 5 to 7 minutes.
At this point, you can throw in your pork and stir fry until it's cooked through completely, which should take 8 to 10 minutes. Add in your rice cakes and stir in. The heat and moisture from the stir fry will soften and cook the dduk. Also, add in the mandu (dumplings) and snuggle them into the pork and kimchi so that they can cook through.
Plop the pork mixture on top of the noodles and tofu and garnish with some chopped scallions for color and flavor (but mostly color).
Serve with a bowl of sticky rice and any other banchan and dig in! The pork is sweet and spicy and tender and the kimchi gives it a good acidic kick and crunch and there are noodles soaking up the sauce and there's delicious tofu that's also soaking up sauce. It's just an amazing, comforting dish for me that brings me back to being a kid.
Here's the recipe page: