When I first started eating Korean food I couldn’t handle any heat at all. The boyfriend would order the hottest dish on the menu and I would watch him sweat and pant and somehow still have a really good time. Our favourite Korean restaurant is called Madtongsan II and it’s hidden away up a little flight of stairs on Elizabeth St in the CBD. When we first started going there regularly we ordered the same two dishes so many times that the wait staff had it memorised. You could actually see surprise on our waiters face the first time we ordered something different. The food is so delicious that no matter how hot it is you always want more. I got my tolerance up and now can safely order off any Korean menu without fear of having my taste buds cauterised.
This pork is one of the dishes on their menu, we loved it so much that I copied down the name and searched for a recipe at home. I used the first one I came across and it was almost perfect. This is the dish that converted me to eating crunchy onion. Let me explain how important this is. As children my sister and I had such a huge aversion to onion that we would pick every tiny piece of it out of our food no matter how long it took. We would pick it out of spaghetti bolognaise. Our mother refused to leave it out for us and I like to think that the whole reason I started cooking was to be able to eat things without having to stop and pick onion out of it. Korean food is chock full of onion and uses it so well that I was willing to give it a go. My man likes to take the credit for my onion conversion but I figure that because he didn’t cook any of the food he can’t claim bragging rights. Besides, I usually do the opposite of what he says, so how does he think he did it?
Gochujang is one of the most important ingredients in Korean cuisine. It’s a fermented chilli and rice paste that adds mild heat and sweetness to dishes, as well as a beautiful red colour. It can be found in all Korean Supermarkets (there is usually a whole shelf devoted to it) and most Asian Supermarkets. I have no idea how to pronounce it but asking for ‘red pepper paste’ is usually a pretty safe bet. This recipe is a really nice introduction to Korean food for anyone wanting to dip their toe in. Don’t like pork? I’ve done this with chicken and it’s divine. Beef would be great and for any vegetarians I bet deep fried tofu would be insane. You can buy meat sliced paper thin from Korean Supermarkets but if you can’t, cook the meat for 8 mins or so, until it’s cooked through when you cut a piece open.
Bonus picture of Coco helping me write.
800g thinly sliced pork
4 tbsp gochujang
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp caster sugar
pinch of pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
2 spring onions, finely sliced
sprinkle of sesame seeds
In a bowl big enough to hold the pork, mix together the gochujang, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, pepper and garlic.
Add the pork and stir to coat well, cover with cling film and keep in the fridge for 30 mins.
Heat up your wok on high until smoking and coat with vegetable oil.
Stir fry the onion and carrot for 5 mins, transfer to a bowl.
Heat wok back up and add a small amount of vegetable oil.
Stir fry pork with marinade (in two batches if necessary) for 5 mins, until all of the pork has changed colour.
Add vegetables back in to the wok and stir to combine.
Taste a piece of onion and carrot and cook longer if you want them softer.
Turn off wok and sprinkle pork with spring onions and sesame seeds.
Serve with rice.