Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae (Kimchi-Tofu Stew) #FoodieReads


When I was preparing for our annual family camping trip last month, I started asking friends for book recommendations because between the hikes, the canoe rides, and family meals, I tend to spend several hours of the day in my hammock! And someone recommended Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.* So, I bought a copy.


On the Page
I really enjoyed this book - so much so that I slowed my pace of reading towards the end because I didn't want it to end. There were so many threads of stories from a fishing village in Korea to Japan and to America and back to Tokyo. However, I also found the story incredibly tragic.

Pachinko is a sprawling saga that spans almost eight decades. It begins with Sunja, a teenager, who runs a boarding house with her widowed mother. She meets a fish broker who seduces her, gets her pregnant, and, then, tells her that he has a family in Japan. Her reputation is preserved when a missionary staying in the boarding house offers to marry her and raise the child as his own. They move to Japan where Korean immigrants are not well-respected. In fact, even Japanese-born Koreans are still considered visitors and are forced to register once they turn fourteen and, then, have to re-register every three years after that.

While Sunja makes a comfortable living selling, first, kimchi, then, sweets, she is still very much part of the working class. Pachinko, the slot-machine-like game ubiquitous throughout Japan, is the primary mode that ethnic Koreans can find work and accumulate wealth. Pachinko is, in a sense, the way to a better life, despite its criminal underbelly.

I don't want to spoil any more of the story than I already have. If you're interested in a compelling family epic, this will fit the bill.

In the Bowl
So, when I thought about what to make that was Pachinko-inspired, I was drawn to making something with kimchi as it represents Korean national pride and social mobility. Both Sunja and her sister-in-law, Kyunghee, make and sell kimchi. Noa, Sunja's son, is embarrassed when he smells of the pungent ingredients when he goes to school. He views being Korean as a burden and wants nothing more than to be Japanese.

So, full disclosure, this is my interpretation and it's an amalgam of different recipes I had found. One poached eggs in the fiery broth; one included marinated pork belly; one used a homemade anchovy broth; one added sliced shiitake mushrooms. I took lots of ideas and put them all together for my version of Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae. And some things are completely my own addition - I added in some ginger and lemongrass for added flavor!

Ingredients

Anchovy Broth
  • 1 ounce anchovy fillets (I used canned anchovies in oil)
  • 2 to 3 pieces of dried seaweed
  • 1 whole organic onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 whole organic black radish, peeled and quartered
  • 6 C water


Pork Belly
  • 1/2 C skinless pork belly, cubed
  • 1 T mirin (rice cooking wine)
  • 1/2 t ground black pepper

The Rest
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 C kimchi with juice
  • 1 organic white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 t freshly grated ginger
  • 1 t finely minced lemongrass
  • 1 t hot sauce (I used a version of Sriracha)
  • 1/2 t red pepper chile flakes
  • 1 T garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 C thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 block firm tofu, drained and thickly sliced
  • 1 C broth or water (I used a pork stock)
  • 1 T fish sauce
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish
  • cooked rice for serving

Procedure

Anchovy Broth
Place all of the ingredient in a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Keep at a boil for 20 minutes. Strain out the onions, seaweed, and black radish. The anchovies might have dissolved completely. Set broth aside.


Pork Belly
Place cubes of pork belly in a glass bowl. Pour mirin over the top and sprinkle with black pepper. Stir to combine. Let stand for at least 15 minutes.

The Stew
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 T sesame oil. Once hot, add the pork belly and marinade. Cook until the meat is cooked and some of the fat rendered, approximately 7 to 8 minutes.


Peel and press your garlic cloves. I have become enamored with the Garject from Dreamfarm when they sent me one to review, you can read more about that here.

Stir in the onions, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, red pepper chile flakes. Cook until the onions are softened and beginning to turn translucent. Stir in the kimchi and the hot sauce. Pour in the anchovy broth, additional broth, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and continue to cook until they are softened, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. 


Gently lower the tofu into the broth and simmer for another few minutes.

Just before serving, carefully break the eggs into the simmering broth. Cover and let the eggs steam and poach for at least 4 minutes.


To serve, ladle stew into individual serving bowls. Sprinkle with green onions. Serve with rice on the side.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

 
Here's what everyone else read in August 2018: 
here.

2 comments:

  1. Pachinko is a great book, isn't it! So many details of history that are very little known, but such a well-developed family story too.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think I would enjoy this book very much. I'll have to order it up.

    ReplyDelete

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