Kimchi can do no wrong. At least that's how I'm feeling at the moment. It is perfect in traditional Korean stews, and it can even miraculously help spruce up a quesadilla. It's so wonderful it can play well with both pork belly and tofu. So I guess it shouldn't come as that big of a surprise that it pairs nicely with pork chops. Just a tablespoon of chopped kimchi marinates the chops, infusing them with plenty of spice and just a bit of vinegar tang.
I found this recipe on the New York Times website, and it's interesting how they incorporate Korean ingredients into what is essentially a very basic pan sauce. A lot of the flavor comes from the fond leftover from cooking the pork chops in a skillet. It's deglazed with vermouth and flavored with honey and kimchi. It sounds unlikely, but a pat of butter at the end helps unify everything into a tart, luscious, and slightly sweet sauce.
How you cook the actual pork chops depends on how thick they are. The original recipe calls for 1-inch thick monsters. For those, you'll need to sear them like the instructions say, and then reduce heat to medium low, cover the skillet, and cook for 7 minutes. For 1/2-inch thick ones, like the ones I used, the quick sear should cook them properly.
- 2 bone-in pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick
- 4 tablespoons kimchi, chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup vermouth or white wine
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- Chopped scallions
- Salt and pepper
Place the pork chops in a plastic bag along with 1 tablespoon of the kimchi. Toss well. Set in the fridge and let marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to a day.
Scrap off the kimchi from the pork chops. Pour the oil into a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the pork chops and cook for about 3 minutes a side. They should be completely cooked, but if not, turn the heat to low, cover the skillet, and cook until done to your liking. Remove the chops from the pan.
Pour in the wine, 1/2 teaspoon of the honey, and the rest of the kimchi to the skillet. Crank the heat to high and scrap the skillet with a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits. Cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat and add the butter. Stir until it has created a thick, luscious sauce. Taste it to see if it needs more honey, and add more to taste. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve the pork chops with the sauce spooned on top with a sprinkling of chopped scallions.