Sunday, January 10, 2016

kimchi soup

You might not dream about soft tofu bobbing around in your soup bowl.

But I do.

Somehow, soft tofu is the perfect thing in this hot Korean soup. There's cabbage and rich spicy broth and pieces of meat floating around . . . but it's the silky-soft tofu cubes that make the best spoonfuls.

We discovered this soup at our favourite Korean restaurant in Jasper a couple years ago. Over the Christmas holiday, I knew it was time to learn how to make it myself.

I love the idea of fermenting things  that the air has little organisms that can keep food instead of spoiling it  so of course I had to make the kimchi base myself. (You don't have to. But it sure is a lot of fun.)

After a week of sitting on the counter in jars, my kimchi was bubbling away and smelled like an exotic fermented witches' brew. It was ready for soup.

Kimchi goes into the fridge after sitting on the counter for a week

You'll see the whole recipe below  thank you, New York Times  but the very best part is cutting the soft tofu into big wobbly cubes. They slide in just before serving. We liked our bowls of soup with lots of fresh green onion on top and a mound of Japanese rice on the side to soak up the broth.

This was our lunch almost every day between Christmas and New Year's. Sitting at our dining room table with the watery sunlight streaming in and a pot of rooibos tea on the counter, it was a very fine lunch indeed.

one year ago: peppermint lavender balm and we eat well in edmonton
two years ago: jane's pecan puffs and chipotle and rosemary spiced nuts
three years ago: carrot and fennel soup

kimchi soup
adapted from the new york times
serves 6  8

1 lb. (454 g.) pork rib roast or pork shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, cut in half, sliced lengthwise and cut in half again
2 c. kimchi, squeezed dry and chopped*
1 tbsp. Korean red pepper flakes**
 2 c. kimchi juice
8 c. chicken or beef broth
8 oz. (222 g.) soft or silken tofu, cut in large cubes
8 green onions, chopped, for garnish
Japanese rice, for serving (optional)

Get a bowl out and toss the pork with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and fish sauce. Marinate for 10 minutes.

Put a heavy-bottomed soup pot on medium heat. Melt the butter, then add the pork mixture. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir onion in and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the kimchi and red pepper flakes. Simmer for 2 minutes.

Pour kimchi juice and broth in. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a brisk simmer and cook 20 minutes. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning if you need to.

Right before serving, add the tofu and stir gently. When the tofu is hot, ladle into bowls and garnish generously with green onion. If you like, serve alongside Japanese rice.

* You can buy the kimchi or make your own. Here's the recipe I used.
** Buy red pepper flakes at a Korean grocery store or in the Asian section of a regular grocery store. They are not hot (spicy).