St Giles High St in London, just below Centre Point by Tottenham Court Road, was central London’s answer to Koreatown for years. There was a strip of small Mom & Pop style restaurants, a Korean bakery and across the road, a terrific small Korean food store selling all sorts of wonderful things. I used to go there all the time. Progress dictates that that strip is required by crossrail now, and sadly, they are all gone (although I believe that some have relocated).
On many a cold day, I decamped to St Giles High St for a soothing bowl of Kimchi Jjigae. A firey yet gentle concoction of pork, kimchi and tofu, I was mesmerised by the hot pots stewing around me on my first exposures to Korean food. I fell in love with it, and have since discovered the joy of New Malden (go to Jin Go Jae) and the simplicity and pleasure of cooking great Korean food at home. You will have already seen the Pork Belly Bulgogi, which I posted recently.
Kimchi Jjigae is a perfect winter or in between day dish. On one of those days where you just need something. A day like this. It is pretty straight forward, there is no frying or anything required, everything is just cooked together in one pot.
Do you have any favourite Korean restaurants or recipes? Or have you been to Korea? I haven’t yet! I would love to go.
Recipe: Kimchi Jjigae (Korean Kimchi, Pork & Tofu Stew)
Serves 2, generously
350g thinly sliced skinless pork belly (freeze it for an hour to make this easier, if you have time)
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
250g mat kimchi (chopped kimchi)
2 spring onions, sliced finely
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
200g tofu, sliced (firm or silken, whatever your preference)
500ml water or dashi or chicken broth or pork broth or similar (I use water all the time but if I have a stock, I will use that)
50ml gojuchang (a lovely Korean pepper paste, worth having in your larder)
2 tbsp gochujaru (hot Korean red pepper)
50ml soy sauce
1 tsp honey
Garnish: 2 spring onions, finely sliced or some fresh coriander
Marinade the pork in the rice wine vinegar for half an hour (or for as long as you have). This will break it down and make it nice and tender.
Add the kimchi, onion, spring onion and pork belly to a pot. Add the soup base ingredients, stir through, and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat and allow to cook gently for 15 minutes. Stir through. Check for seasoning, it may not need much as the kimchi is in brine.
Add the sliced tofu on top, put the lid back on, and cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve immediately in bowls with sliced spring onion or coriander on top. (I had run out of spring onion!).