Whether it’s kimchi jigae, kimchi pasta, or kimchi pizza, you know that I have an affinity for all things kimchi and pork. Known as Jaeyook Bokkeum (재육볶음) in Korea, Buta Kimchi (豚キムチ) is the Japanese version of this amazing pork and kimchi dish, and can be found in izakayas (Japanese tapas bars) all over Japan.
The tart lacto-fermented kimchi, the garlic, the spiciness, and the creamy pork create a synergy of flavor in your mouth that’s impossible not to like. This makes it all the more interesting that it’s not just Asians that are into the pork and fermented cabbage combo. One of my favorite Alsatian dishes, for example, is Choucroute Garnie.
Perhaps the best thing about Buta Kimchi is that it comes together in under 30 minutes, and yet the complex flavors from the kimchi and pork give it a depth that will convince most people that the sauce took hours to make. Be careful though, it can become precariously addictive, especially if you pair it with an alcoholic beverage of your choosing (wine, shochu and beer all work). It’s so addictive that you’ll likely find yourself checking into a weight-loss center faster than you can say “more buta kimchi please.”
Personally I’m not a fan of adding the mayo, and Koreans would probably shriek in horror if they saw this, but in Japan, a squirt of Kewpie mayo always accompanies this dish. I squirted some on for authenticity and then quickly regretted it soon after.
Buta Kimchi (Pork and Kimchi Stir Fry)
1/2 pound sliced pork belly or ton torro
2 cups kimchi roughly chopped
1/2 onion thinly sliced
1 tablespoon gochujang
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 scallions thinly sliced
Kewpie Mayonaise (optional)
Note: Because the pork has plenty of fat in it already, there’s no need to oil the pan, just make sure it is very hot when the meat hits it and the fat that renders out of the meat will be plenty for the stir fry.
Heat a skillet or wok until very hot. Add the pork in a single layer and fry undisturbed until some fat has rendered out. scrape the pork off the pan and quickly stir fry until cooked. Transfer the meat to a plate and drain off all but a tablespoon of fat.
Add the kimchi, and onion and stir fry for a minute. Return the pork to the pan along with the gochujang and soy sauce then continue stir frying until the kimchi is cooked and the pork is tender. If your pork is sliced thicker than a few millimeters, you’ll probably need to cover it and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes to tenderize it. If there’s any extra liquid remaining at the bottom, turn the heat up to high and reduce until the sauce coats the meat and kimchi.
Drizzle with sesame oil, sprinkle with scallions and serve. If you want, you can squirt some Kewpie mayonaise on top.