Pork belly is braised with Chinese fermented black beans, Korean chili paste, ginger and garlic until tender. Vegetables and fried tofu are tossed in, and honey is added to round up the flavors. Pork and tofu with black beans and chili sauce is an easy one-pan dish to enjoy with hot rice.
The Korean mini-grocery in the neighborhood is a gold mine — a convenient source of so many things from Korean ice cream bars to vegetable dumplings to tofu to seasonings and condiments. Unlike big Shopwise a few blocks away which is always full (mostly with people enjoying free air-conditioning), the Korean store is never crowded and the prices are better too. We go there a lot.
The chili paste that went into this dish was bought at the Korean mini-grocery. It’s thicker than bottled chili sauces and hotter. You can substitute any chili paste or sauce to make this dish but you’ll have to wing it to get the best balance of flavors.
- cooking oil for deep frying
- 400 grams boneless pork belly
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 200 grams firm tofu
- 2 heaping teaspoons fermented black beans drained and lightly pounded
- 3 heaping tablespoons Korean chili paste
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 onion diced
- 2 bell peppers diced
- 1 tablespoon honey
- drizzle sesame seed oil
- Heat enough cooking oil in a wok or frying pan to reach a depth of at least two inches. Wait until wisps of smoke are visible on the surface.
- While the cooking oil heats (it will take several minutes), cut the pork into bite-size pieces and rub lightly with salt and pepper.
- Cut the tofu into the same size as the pork.
- When the oil is hot, fry the tofu over high heat until golden brown. Scoop out and transfer to a plate.
- Bring up the temperature of the oil once more and fry the pork pieces over high heat until browned and lightly crusted. You are not cooking the meat through at this point but merely letting the meat acquire texture. So, as soon as the outside looks browned with a good texture, scoop them out.
- Pour off the oil leaving only about a tablespoonful.
- Heat the oil and add the black beans, chili paste, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about a minute.
- Return the pork to the pan. Pour in about three-quarters cup of water. Bring to a hard boil then lower the heat, cover and allow to braise for about 20 minutes, after which time, the mixture should be almost dry.
- Turn up the heat. Add the bell peppers, onion and fried tofu. Stir fry for about a minute.
- Turn off the heat. Pour in the honey and sesame seed oil. Stir a few times. Serve hot.
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