wooden spoon

I love Wikipedia!

While I’m rabidly curious about most things, the food-related topics pique my interest the most.

Found an interesting Korean beef ribs recipe that sounded right up my alley. With an exotic and intriguing ingredient, I decided to explore and experiment.

I’ve tweaked the original recipe, substituting a thick pork loin chop for the beef ribs but otherwise left the recipe pretty much intact.

I’m happy to say the results were delicious. Changed up the veggies a little but tried to stay close to the original to capture the Korean flavor profile.

The main flavor comes from gochujang (go-chew-jang) sauce, a savory, sweet and spicy fermented condiment made from chili powder, glutinous rice, meju powder (dried fermented soybeans), yeotgireum (barley malt powder) and salt.

The starch from cooked glutinous rice, when cultured with saccharifying enzymes during the fermentation process, brings sweetness, while chili powder adds substantial heat.

Traditional gochujang goes from mildly through slightly medium, and very to extremely hot on the Scoville scale, with the range being from 30 to over 100. Annie Chun’s, the one I found, is rated 45 to 75 on the scale.

Gochujang imparts a distinct flavor profile to many traditional Korean dishes and is so popular that each October the Sunchang Gochujang Festival is celebrated in Gochujang Village, Sunchang County in North Jeolla Province.

And that, folks, is just the tip of the iceberg that is gochujang, a wonderful addition to my condiment/ingredient larder. I’m looking forward to more experimenting. Who knows, gochujang could just be the next sriracha.

One note when you try this: The sauce I used was fairly hot. I liked it, but if heavy on the heat doesn’t work with your palate, cut back on the gochujang, omit the red pepper flakes or do both.

KOREAN BBQ PORK

1-1/2 pound boneless pork loin chop

1/2 onion, sliced into thin strips

3 stalks green onion, cut into two inch pieces

marinade:

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ginger, grated

1/4 cup gochujang

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons rice wine

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon black pepper

to cook:

1 tablespoon oil, for wok

1 cup water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

sesame seed, chopped green onions and cilantro, to garnish rice or noodles

Slice pork paper thin and transfer to a large bowl. Slicing is easier if meat is cold or partially frozen. Add marinade ingredients, toss to coat evenly, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Drain pork mixture through sieve and reserve liquid. Heat oil in a pan or wok over high heat, add pork, do not crowd, stir fry, in batches, until slightly crisp on edges, about three to four minutes. Remove pork to plate and add drained veggies to wok. Stir fry until tender crisp. Mix cornstarch with one tablespoon water, add to remaining water and stir into leftover marinade, add to wok and stir with veggies to make a slightly thick, glossy sauce. Return meat to pan, stir to coat, sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds, chopped green onions and cilantro. Good with rice (recipe following) or noodles. Serves four.

COCONUT RICE WITH CILANTRO AND PEAS

1 cup extra long grain white rice

1 14 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

water

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon*, optional

oil

handful frozen peas

chopped cilantro

juice of one lime

Rinse rice until water runs clear, drain well. Mix coconut milk with enough water to measure two cups. Heat oil to warm in saucepan, add rice and sauté briefly or until rice begins to turn opaque. Add coconut milk mixture, bring to a boil, add bouillon if using, cover and turn heat down to lowest possible setting. Cook, covered 15 minutes and check for doneness. If necessary, replace lid and cook another five minutes, check again. When done, fluff rice with fork, add peas, cilantro and lime juice, toss to combine.

*if not using bouillon. add 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Long-time Valley resident Elaine Revelle can be reached at thewoodenspoon@juno.com

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