Slow cooked, sweet and spicy. I don’t know how “authentic” this would be considered, but who cares, it’s so good we fight over the leftovers!
If you want to build up an appetite, try watching a Korean Drama first. Food plays a large part in the stories. What you eat, when you eat and who you eat it with is as important to Korean culture as it is in Italy, neither Nonna or Halmoni will ever let you go hungry. One traditional greeting, roughly translated as “How are you?” literally means “Have you eaten?” or rather “Have you eaten rice?” Watch out though, the food and the drama is highly addictive!
Really though, go and watch some Korean Drama, Netflix have a good selection at the moment. I recommend Beating Again (also known as Falling for Innocence), Playful Kiss, This is my Love (also known as My Love, Eun-Dong), Schoolgirl Detectives (also known as Seonam Girls High School Investigators) Tomorrow’s Cantible, Click Your Heart and Noble, My Love. Expect to laugh, cry, cheer, learn important life lessons and develop an insatiable desire to eat ramen, all in the course of one episode.
Back to the food….For me it’s tastier than Japanese cuisine and with a lighter, fresher taste than the Chinese food we are used to in the West. Use Gochujang chilli paste if you can get it. It’s available online or from Asian supermarkets. Sainsbury’s have a Gochujang sauce which works, otherwise use regular chilli paste, which comes in little jars in most supermarkets.
A typical Korean meal would involve sticky rice, marinated strips of meat and a variety of little vegetable side dishes known as banchan. Kimchi, a spicy fermented condiment made with cabbage and radish, recently took the world by storm, though I still had to travel to the nearest Chinese supermarket to find some!
I love my slow cooker, so I adapted the flavours of Bulgogi (marinated and barbecued beef) for a slow cooked shoulder of pork. Serve with sticky or normal rice. If you have enough time, you can prepare some vegetables on the side, carrots, beansprouts and so on. Otherwise you can pop some carrot strips in the slow cooker at the beginning.
Korean Spiced Pork
- a large pork shoulder or rolled rib joint
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 onion or a bunch of spring onions, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- a thumb sized chunk of fresh ginger, grated
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 6 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp (or more if you like it really spicy) gochujang or a couple of tsp chilli paste. Taste half way through cooking and add a little more if you need to.
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 1 pear, peeled and grated
My slow cooker has a sauté option, if yours doesn’t, start off the cooking in a large frying pan. Heat the olive and sesame oils in a large pan, brown the pork on all sides. Remove from the pan and put to one side.
Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pan and stir fry for about 3 or 4 mins. Add the sesame seeds and stir around till they start to pop.
Put everything, pork, onions and remaining ingredients, into the slow cooker. Add 120ml of water. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Taste the sauce, add a little more soy sauce, honey or chilli depending on what you think it needs. If necessary thicken the sauce with a little cornflour blended with cold water.
Eat up, and remember that sarangae!*
*I love you