Kim Chee to the Rescue, Again!

It was Super Bowl Sunday, and things were not going well.

A few evenings earlier, I had awoken in the middle of the night with one of those sneezes that tells you immediately a cold is imminent.

We had friends for dinner Friday night, and despite feeling a bit under the weather, I cooked and ate and drank and toasted and laughed. And then went to bed. And didn’t sleep a wink — the entire night.

My medicine

My medicine

I got up, jittery, tired and sick. And went for a run. When I got home, I showered, took a Benadryl, climbed back in bed. And slept for four hours. When I woke, I felt wildly out of sorts — even sleepier than I had been, my vision skewed, my depth perception practically non existent.

We had more friends planned for dinner that evening. Adopting a “show must go on” attitude, I prepared to host them, making sauces, pretending I felt okay. At the appointed hour, I welcomed them with open arms, mustering the energy to beam and feign a carefree, mirthful posture. They took one look at me, their smiles falling away, and said, “Are you okay??”

I sipped my wine, served course after course, in lieu of an appetite nibbled around the edges of my plate… all the while suffering the sympathetic gazes of my guests.

Fearing my sallow visage and wobbly demeanor might be ruining everyone else’s evening, I excused myself at 7:30 p.m., took a bath, and climbed in bed. And once again — as incoherent thoughts and snippets of Pink Floyd songs sped past each other on the racetrack of my mind — didn’t sleep a wink.

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd

Which brings us back to Super Bowl Sunday. We were due at the home of our friends, Steve and Ashley, to watch the game. I had promised chicken wings. Eschewing my usual Buffalo wings, I opted instead for Korean spicy crispy wings — always a crowd pleaser.

“This is the best chicken wing I’ve ever had!” their friend, Lucas, said as he raised his first wing triumphantly in the air. “And I don’t even like wings!”

The wings went fast. Still absent an appetite, I tried just one. My nose being stuffy, I couldn’t really taste it. But it had a nice texture.

I like to blame it on the New England Patriots’ unlikely 4th quarter march into the history books — I was rooting for Atlanta — but once again, that night in bed, exhausted, I tossed and turned and tried to sleep. All to no avail.

The next day, Monday, as I moved slowly about the house in a zombie-like daze, my wife said, “You should make yourself some spicy kim chee soup.”

Spicy kim chee soup! Not having eaten for two days, it actually sounded pretty darned good — the combination of warm tangy broth, silky pork jowl, comforting tofu.

I’ve made it before, but couldn’t recall what I did. So not being Korean (Ha! Fooled you, didn’t I…), I set about doing a bit of internet research before my memory felt refreshed enough to venture into it.

Sure enough, it was just the thing! Not having enough appetite yet to tackle the rice and dumplings I’d made for the wife and kids, I dove spoon-first into my kim chee soup with abandon. Nourished and nurtured, I crawled into bed and slept like a log.


*    *    *

Spicy Korean kimchee soup
serves 4-6

5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp. peeled, chopped ginger
2 tbsp. Japanese kirin rice wine
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/3 lb. pork jowl (pork belly will work too, but I prefer the jowl cut), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tbsp. vegetable oil (canola, pure olive oil, etc.)
1 small white onion, sliced lengthwise into slivers
1 cup kim chee
5 cups water
4 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
6 oz. firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru) or crushed red pepper, for a spicer soup

Toss pork with garlic, ginger, mirin and soy sauce, and set aside for 10 minutes.

Heat 1 tbsp. vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Sauté pork jowl mixture for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add onions and continue sautéing and stirring for another 3 minutes. Add kim chee and water, bring to a simmer, lower heat to medium low, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove cover and stir in tofu and scallions. Cook for 5 minutes more. Add chili flakes if you would like more heat. Remove from heat, cover and let sit until ready to eat.



13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mom
    Feb 10, 2017 @ 18:46:13

    I like Kim Chee no matter how you cook it.
    How many of your guests did you infect?


  2. Mom
    Feb 10, 2017 @ 19:02:29

    do you buy ready made kim chee for this?


  3. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    Feb 10, 2017 @ 19:44:59

    Hope you are feeling better now Sean!!! Have a good weekend.


  4. Ernie
    Feb 11, 2017 @ 17:33:23

    Korean Penicillin?


  5. Amanda
    Feb 13, 2017 @ 18:38:20

    Sorry you caught the bug… glad you found a little comfort in the kim chee!


  6. Donald McKenzie
    Feb 14, 2017 @ 17:38:04

    Another reason to love Kim chee


  7. Trackback: Of Kim Jongs and Cauliflower | skinny girls & mayonnaise

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