Bean Curd Stew
Tubu tchigae is a classic, the sort of everyday food that Koreans yearn for when they have been away from home too long. When Halmoni prepared this for Syngman Rhee, the then first President of the Republic of Korea sighed in ectasy and nostalgia (the man, a slight, skinny figure from pictures I have seen, had, remembers Halmoni, an immense and almost insatiable appetite). Halmoni's tubu tchigae is exceedingly simple to prepare, but its taste is authentic and truly delicious.
1-11/2 cakes firm bean curd
2-3 loin pork chops, on the bone (about 1 pound)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
About 1/2 pint meat broth
2 heaped tablespoons kochujang
3 cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, and finely chopped
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, crushed, and finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 stalks celery, sliced on the diagonal
1 green pepper, seeded and sliced on the diagonal
1 zucchini, sliced on the diagonal
2-3 fresh chillies, seeded and sliced
3 spring onions, shredded on the diagonal
Cut the bean curd into cubes and set aside. Trim the pork chops of all fat, and cut into thick matchsticks. Use the trimmings and the bones to make a meat broth, if no other homemade broth is available; season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Heat the vegetable oil in a pot and fry the meat for 5 minutes or until brown. Add the kochujang, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil and cook over a medium flame for about 10 minutes, stirring all the while. Add meat broth, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and add the celery, green pepper, courgette, and chillies. Simmer for about 25-30 minutes. Add the bean curd to the pot 5 minutes before ready to serve. Simmer, then transfer to a large bowl. Garnish with shredded spring onions.
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