The only fermented food I grew up with was yogurt. My uncle owns and operates a small, local yogurt company and it's been in our family diet for as long as I can remember. However, when I was pregnant with BabyLorp, my first caving was kimchi. Yes, kimchi! I don't even have any Korean blood in my vein, but the next morning, PapaLorp dutifully bought me a take out of kimchi fried rice which I inhaled within seconds.
Winter is letting up here in Seattle but the wind is still quite cold and we still have rainy days and what better to prepare than a one pot dish. I came across the recipe for this kimchi nabe from this blogpost, which I pinned them right away on my Pinterest board and adapted to suit my kitchen. Unfortunately, I do not own a nabe, so I cook everything in regular pot.
In case you are curious, here's what I use:
3/4 lb paper-thin sliced pork belly (the cut that looks like streaky bacon)
1/2 Tbs sesame oil
3 garlic cloves minced
Approx 4 cups of water
6 oz napa cabbage kimchi, chopped (about 1/2 of 13 oz package kimchi) along with the kimchi water
3 Tbs sake
handful of assorted fresh mushrooms (button and shiitake)
one pack natto
1.5 Tbs miso
2 Tbs soy sauce
one small pack of kamaboko, sliced
one pack of firm tofu, cubed
few sticks of carrots, thinly sliced
3-5 sprigs of green onion, sliced
First, I "marinade" the pork belly with kimchi water and minced garlic while I prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Get all the other ingredients ready to go, mise en place.
Heat nabe or pan, pour sesame oil (I use a lot less since the pork belly is quite fatty), and fry pork belly in it for 2-3 minutes until opaque.
Add water, bring to boil. Add the next 3 ingredients and bring to boil.
Add the next 3 ingredients, mix well and make sure the miso is all disolved. Bring to boil.
Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to boil/until all heated through. Serve with steaming bowls of rice.
I suppose you don't need to use natto, but I think it adds depth in the flavor and I just love natto (again, I might have been living in Asia in my previous reincarnation.. all these peculiar fondness of fermented Asian food). Even PapaLorp, who detested natto, couldn't tell the difference and gobbled up the stew happily. If I were to do it again next time, I'd add a teaspoon or so of Tobajan hot sauce, just to kick it up a few notches.