Recipe: Korean Pork Belly Bun Bowls
Living in Los Angeles, I picked up a love for Korean food, but due to the availability of ingredients (though I have managed to make do with some approximations) and the prevalence of very good, but not quite authentic Korean restaurants over here, I’ve found it hard to get my fix. One of the biggest road blocks was that up until this month, it has been impossible to buy Gochujang (Korean chilli sauce) in a British supermarket. However, some stores have risen to the challenge, so in collaboration with Yogiyo! (a Dragon’s Den start up who have brought mild Gochujang, medium Gochujang for cooking and Galbi Fruity Soy Marinade to Sainsbury’s stores) I thought I’d share with you a simple, bright and delicious recipe using Gochujang.
All the real effort here is in remembering to marinate your pork belly strips in advance. I’d recommend overnight, or at least marinate them in the morning for cooking in the evening, but I left mine for two days with fantastic results. Otherwise, all the other ingredients can be prepared and thrown together for these bright, aromatic noodle bowls (inspired by the bun bowls I had for lunch last month at KIN in Clerkenwell) while the pork is cooking, which surprisingly for moist and tender pork belly only takes half an hour.
I’ve paired the same sauce here as I use when I make Vietnamese Summer Rolls (an easy mixture of sweet chilli sauce, fish sauce and fresh lime juice with just a pinch of golden caster sugar) which marries all the different flavours together beautifully, and moistens the dish. Choose if you want to dip chopsticks full of pork, noodles and aromatics into it as you eat, or pour the whole lot over the top of your noodles in one go.
These quantities make two bun bowls, mainly as I like to use two pork belly strips per person for a generous serving of meat, and I buy my strips in Waitrose where you get four to a pack. However, you can multiply this dish to make many more bowls, or stretch out the pork and aromatics a bit more, just remembering to use two rice noodle nests per person.
- 3 tbsp Yogio! Medium Gochujan for Cooking
- 1 tbsp Soft Brown Sugar
- 1 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
- 1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
- 1 tsp Sesame Oil
- 4 Pork Belly Strips
- 1 tbsp Thai Fish Sauce
- Juice of 1/2 Lime
- 1/2 tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce
- Generous Pinch Golden Caster Sugar
- 4 Small Thin Rice Noodle Nests
- 3 Large Radishes
- 2 Large Spring Onions
- 1/2 Small Cucumber
- 1/2 Red Chilli
- Generous Handful Fresh Coriander
- 2 Lime Wedges
Marinate the pork belly in the fridge at least 6 hours in advance. Whisk together the Gochujan, soft brown sugar, dark soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil, and coat the pork belly well in a shallow dish. Cover with kitchen wrap before chilling.
Take the pork out to come up to room temperature, uncovered for half an hour before cooking. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (390 Fahrenheit) and line a baking try well with tin foil (once this marinade bakes on it becomes very difficult to clean!) Remove the pork from the marinade and roast for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn the pork over and baste with more of the marinade.
While the pork is cooking, boil a small saucepan of water and cook the noodles until tender. Ignore the cooking instructions on the packet; I’ve never had success simply soaking rice noodles in boiling water. Rinse through with cold water and transfer to a large pasta bowl. Make the dressing by whisking together the fish sauce, chilli sauce, lime juice and a generous pinch of sugar.
To prepare the vegetables, slice the radishes as thin as possible (I use a mandoline). Shred the spring onions as thinly as possible. Peel the cucumber and cut into very thin matchsticks. Remove the leaves from the coriander stalks. Thinly slice the chilli. Arrange all of the vegetables in portions on top of the noodles.
Remove the pork from the oven, and allow to cool for a few moments until you can touch it to slice it with a very sharp knife without burning your fingers. Arrange in the bowl and serve immediately.
Have any of you got any recipes using Gochujang that I should be adding to my repertoire? I’m currently working on cooking times to use this same marinade on pork ribs. How great would they be sprinkled with finely chopped spring onions and sesame seeds, served on a bed of sticky rice?