I am Jack's Smirking Revenge

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Buta Kimchee / Buta Kimuchi

Very nearly the perfect bachelor food.

Allow me to describe.

Kimchee, a Korean food, to an American looks mostly like cooked cabbage with that red pepper stuff they give you to sprinkle on pizza in it. What is it actually? Fermeted (pickled) cabbage with pepper and other spices in it rendering it somewhere in the tangy-to-inedibly hot range.

So, what is buta-kimchi? Long ago, one of my housemates was a guy named Yutaka Ushio. I believe it was 1994, I was 25 and going to college at the time. One evening he showed me how to make one of his favorite dishes, "Kimchi-chahan", or kimchee fried rice. Upon investigation of this 'kimchi' stuff as he was cooking, I discovered it smelled a lot like stinky feet with red pepper. He assured me it was good, but I was not sure he wasn't huffing glue or something.

In any case, the end result was so delicious I was instantly converted. I almost had a kimchee (the silly-looking English spelling) obsession.

Any time someone had kimchi, or knew of a dish with kimchi, naturally, I wanted to know about it or try it.

And one day, I forget when, the perfect dish was presented to me.

I'm pretty sure it was in the izakaya 'A' in Kyoto, but I am not really sure.

The dish is extremely simple: thinly sliced pork cooked up (probably in a frying pan), with kimchi. Add a beer and you are set for the evening- just as I am at this very moment.

In any case, I've loved my stinky kimchi and try to wrangle it out of any Japanese restaurant I go into as it's always nice to see how they perpare it.

I have noticed in a lot of cases that many Japanese restaurants in the USA are run
by Korean people who typically do a very good job of rendering a decent Japanese menu. However, what I have found is that while most Japanese places are Korean owned and run, none of their menus include kimchi, because, always insisted in a serious tone, "Kimchi is Korean, not Japanese."


Never mind the fact that I have never had kimchi in Korea, nor have I had it served by a Korean or American person. Hell-oooo?

Ah, yes, back to the story.

So, if you are not very good at cooking (you bachelor types) and want to try this fantastic almost impossible to mess up dish, here are my instructions. Granted, you do need a few cooking utensils...


teflon frying pan
chopsticks or a fork for turning over the meat
meat (pork or chicken is fine)
jar of kimchi
cooking oil- olive or vegetable
knife to cut meat
place to cut meat

To prepare- open the kimchi, best to do it in the sink as when you open it it will fizz like a shaken-up pop. Once open, just set it in the sink.

Slice the meat: whatever meat it is, cut off anything that looks funny (fat, bones, etc- I'd recommend half to 3/4 pound of boneless chicken breast or boneless pork chop), and slice the meat so the pieces are a little under half an inch thick. You should end up with pieces that aren't very wide or thick- nice little strips.

Frying pan: set it on the stove, turn the stove on, get the pan hot. On a gas stove, just set it to high and leave the pan there 30-45 seconds- for electric, high but maybe a minute to a minute 30.

Once the pan is hot, dump some oil in it (a 2" diameter circle or less should be plenty) and drop the stove to 70% heat. Dump all the meat into the little circle of oil- we just want some of it to get on there so it doesn't adhere to the pan. Make sure it lays down flat in the pan- this is where the chopsticks or fork come in handy- a spatula will not get the job done unless you are some kind of spatula-ninja.

as soon as you have all the pieces laying flat, get your jar of kimchi and dump some of the juice out of it into the pan- just enough to splash around and get on the chicken- not enough to make a big puddle in the pan.

the pieces will cook pretty quickly- with chicken, you'll see the edges start to turn white- when you do, turn the pieces over. This will take a minute or two.

Once the pieces are all turned over, grab your kimchi jar again and scoop out at least half of the contents onto the meat in the pan. If you really love kimchi, just dump the whole jar out. there should be a considerable amount of juice in the jar, if not, just dump a little water into the pan- a few tablespoons- not enough to make a big lake in the pan.

Do not stir the meat around, but move the kimchi so it sort of covers all of the meat in a nice even layer.

Leave the pan alone for a minute or two, and then, to check the meat, find a piece along the edge and pull it apart with your chopsticks or fork. If it is cooked all the way through it will be white and not pink anywhere.

Turn the stove off. Move the pan off the burner. Open a beer, or another beer, and go to town.

MMM! Perfect! and it reheats well, too.



At December 14, 2006 3:15 PM, Blogger speecialpants said...

I tried this for the first time about half a year ago at Kyo Fu and LOVED it despite being quite skeptical at first. Previously I'd only experienced kimchee cold, which is OK but nothing I'd want in quantity.


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