Baby, it is cold outside. (Sings along). But don’t worry, I have the solution.
My solution is tender and bright and soothing and a little bit hot, but not face melting. This pork belly bulgogi is punchy and gorgeous, and it is easy, once you get your mitts on the ingredients. And with this here internet, and the big broad world we all live in, that is not difficult at all.
Korean BBQ is a big thing. Korean restaurants often have a hole in the table with wood burning below, so that you can BBQ your own food as you eat. Bulgogi (which translates as fire meat) is a style of marinaded meat, that is then cooked over the BBQ. At home, you can cook it in the oven or on a pan too. It is most commonly marinaded beef, but I find it works terrifically with pork belly too. Cut thinly, and instead of over the BBQ, I roast it slowly until it is meltingly tender.
This takes little work. If you have a food processor or good blender the marinade takes minutes, and all you have to do with the pork is slice it. After that it is just time, time to marinade the meat, and time to roast it (just an hour). You can eat it as you like, I love it on top of a rice bowl with sesame seeds, spring onions and some greens like kale. Bulgogi is fabulous in a taco with a simple slaw, you can treat it like a Korean kebab and have it rolled in a flatbread or some pita bread. You can eat it very simple wrapped in some lettuce leaves with some herbs and spring onions. This is a perfect dish to make large amounts of for friends, served from a big serving platter in the centre of the table.
Note: you can buy ingredients in most Asian supermarkets and online on sites like Sous Chef (a site that I have used as a customer many times, and they ship all over Europe). I make a large-ish batch of this even when I just make it myself. It will keep for a few days in the fridge and is a brilliant sandwich stuffer, for brunch with eggs etc.
Recipe: Korean Pork Belly Bulgogi
1kg skinless & boneless pork belly, and cut into thin slices (this can be easier if you freeze it for an hour to firm it)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 inch ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 spring onions, ends removed and green and white parts coarsely chopped
75g gojuchang (Korean red pepper paste – gorgeous & something you should have in your cupboard)
3 tbsp gochugaru red pepper flakes
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
3 tbsp sesame seeds
some light oil for frying like groundnut, rapeseed or sunflower
Put all of the ingredients for the marinade in your blender or food processor and process until smooth.
Add to the pork and mix with your hands, ensuring it is well combined. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for at least half an hour, preferably overnight.
About an hour and a quarter before you want to eat, remove the pork from the fridge, and preheat the oven to 150 deg C. Boil the kettle.
Depending on the size of your tray, you may need two. Oil them lightly and lay the pork slices in one layer. Put the boiling water in an oven proof bowl or pot and put it at the bottom of the oven. This will ensure that there is steam, and will prevent the pork from drying out.
Put the pork in the oven and allow it to roast gently. There should be plenty of water, but if for some reason you run out (say if your bowl is small), top it up if you need to.
After an hour it will be tender and ready to eat. You can push it further if you like, leaving it in longer to make a Korean pulled pork. Just a half an hour extra should do it. (I did this one time, and it is terrific too, if you like pulled pork!).
Serve with sesame seeds and shredded spring onion on top and eat hot, as you like it (rice bowl, taco, sandwich, in lettuce leaves with herbs).