been good and haven’t written (only) about food in a while, so imma indulge in a tasty post: my kimchi soup adventure. Its theme song goes a little something like this.
This past weekend was, aside from Halloween, particularly uneventful. I very much needed the rest – and to finish watching Coffee Prince – so I don’t feel guilty, but I did feel like I needed to accomplish something.
Posting about Halloween was one such accomplishment, but Coffee Prince gave me an inhuman desire for kimchi soup. One I couldn’t wait for the school’s canteen to fulfill.
Only solution: make it myself.
I’ve been a bit hesitant to try making Korean food because of the hours of prep work that generally goes into it. But with a soup wherein the pre-prepped kimchi is the main event, how hard could it be?
I was not wrong.
That’s not to say it didn’t come with challenges. I found a super simple recipe online, but it called for fresh pork shoulder. Not only have I never bought raw meat before, but I’ve never cooked with it. Ever. Not in Korea, not in Canada. Maybe smooshing some ground hamburger meat once or twice and then washing my hands a bajillion times after (I’m ultra paranoid about food poisoning), but that’s it.
Then there was the challenge of ordering it in Korean at the supermarket down my street. I wrote down a hangul google translation and hoped for the best. My heart raced as I awaited my turn at, and finally approached, the meat counter. The exchange went a little like this:
Me: “Anyeonghasaeyo. Hangugorul chalbotaeyo…” (Hello. I can’t speak Korean well…) *hands over pink post-it with the type and amount of meat I need*
Him: *scrutinizes paper* (I can only imagine how awkwardly google translated it). “OK OK.” *claps shoulder to confirm pork shoulder*
Me: *nods vigorously then gets overexcited at the communicative success and tries to mime out “or pork belly if there’s no pork shoulder” since that was also a possible substitute*
Him: ???? *holds up two fingers: both?*
Me: *oh shit this was a bad idea*
Him: *what do you want from me!*
Me: “Pork shoulder! Pork shoulder!” *why am I desperately shouting pork shoulder in English?*
Him: “OK OK.” *laughs at poor ignorant white girl in front of him*
Me: “Gamsahamnida.” (Thank you.) *wipes sweat from brow: saved*
Him: *asks if I want it cut*
Me: *somehow understands but still is like WHAAA uncontrollably, while knowing the answer’s simply ne: yes*
Him: (in English) “What you make? Make?”
Me: “Kimchi….soup?” *mimes bowl* “Kimchi. Kimchi!”
Him: *laughs again at increasingly dishevelled foreigner* “OK OK.” *cuts meat into bite sized cubes*
At this point a few other customers came over to ask for their orders as well. They stared at me, all frazzled, and him, laughing. He started talking to them and they all enjoyed a good chuckle together at my expense. (At least it was in the amused way; my pride might have been dinted, but at least I could pull off being-the-extremely-blonde-girl excuse and smile confusedly).
Finally he handed me my fresh meat and I was able to pay and head back home.
Making it was very easy. Just chop, dump it in a pot, and simmer. Add ingredients part way in and you’re good to go.
Ingredients are, for about 2-3 servings:
- 2 cups of chopped kimchi
- ½ pound of pork shoulder (or pork belly), cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 Tablespoons of hot pepper paste
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 5 cups of water
- 2 stalks of green onions, chopped
- 1 package of tofu (14 ounces: 396 grams), cut into bite sized cubes
- 2-5 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
I found that with 5 cups of water though that there was far too little broth (maybe I’m just a keener about broth) and so I ended up adding another 2 cups a day later and adjusting the spices accordingly. It makes it about 5-6 servings this way too (whoo stretching out the moneys).
After that it’s simple: slice tofu;
chop green onions;
chop kimchi into bite-sized pieces;
toss the kimchi, pork shoulder, kimchi, kimchi juice, hot pepper paste and sugar into a pot and combine.
Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Now add tofu. I made the error of throwing both tofu and green onions in with the rest and had to fish it out after, and the green onions were a lost cause.
Bring down heat once tofu’s in and let it bob in the bubbles like a spicy jacuzzi for ten minutes.
After that, put in the green onions, turn off the heat and serve.
I ended up putting two extra stalks in to make up for the overcooked originals; kept it nice and crunchy.
And ta-dah!! I made my first authentic Korean meal 😀
Served it with rice because ain’t nothin’ better than dipping the rice into the broth all soggy and warm and comforting (pretty sure that’s where all the broth went). Note the dark side lightsaber chopsticks SSG gave me as a birthday present before I left! Eat with them all the time 🙂
And because Koreans often serve citrus at the end of a meal – and because I bought like 30 clementines – I cleansed the palate with some orangey goodness.
Been eating it for the past 5 days and I’m still not tired of it!