There are too many great meat dishes in the Korean canon to pick a favorite, but this one of stir-fried marinated pork with kimchi is definitely in my top five. Easy to make, it features thin strips of pork shoulder in a spicy-sweet blend of Korean chili paste, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil—plus a bit of Asian pear for both flavor and its tenderizing effect.
Why this recipe works:
- Asian pear adds a subtle sweetness to the marinade, while helping to tenderize the meat.
- Stir-frying in batches ensures that the ingredients will brown and not just stew in the wok or skillet.
Note: Korean ingredients like gochujang and gochugaru are available at Korean and Asian markets. If you can't find Asian pear, you can still make this recipe by adding an additional 1 tablespoon sugar to the marinade.
- 1/3 cup gochujang (Korean chili paste; see note)
- 1/4 cup chopped peeled Asian pear (see note)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 medium cloves)
- 1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger (about one 1-inch knob)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toastes sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon Asian rice wine
- 2 teaspoons gochugaru (Korean dried chili pepper flakes; see note)
- 2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into thin strips
- 6 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1 fresh Korean green chili pepper, stemmed and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces (see note)
- 1 packed cup drained kimchi
- Kosher salt
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
- Lettuce leaves and cooked medium-grain rice, for serving
In a food processor, combine gochujang, Asian pear, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, rice wine, and gochugaru and process until a smooth marinade forms.
In a large bowl, toss pork with marinade, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 8 hours.
When ready to cook, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok over high heat until smoking. Add onion, scallion, and green chili pepper, and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until softened and starting to brown around the edges, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
Heat 1 more tablespoon oil in the wok until smoking. Add kimchi and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until heated through and excess liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the platter with the onions.
Working in 4 batches, heat remaining oil in wok until smoking. Add pork and stir-fry until just cooked-through and starting to brown in spots, then transfer to platter. Return all ingredients to wok and cook, tossing and stirring, until heated through. Season with salt, transfer to a serving platter, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve right away with lettuce leaves and rice.
Wok or large skillet, food processor