When I come home after being away, I crave for certain foods, usually something spicy, because it is hard to find good spicy food in europe.  My real comfort food!  Here are my versions of two classic dishes. Enjoy!

Kimchi Jigae (spicy korean hot pot)

1 slice of unsmoked pork belly , cut into 1-2 cm cubes
1 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 tablespoon sugar
a pinch of salt
ground pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup of kimchi, cut into bite size pieces, preferably aged to the stage when it is too sour to enjoy  (I must admit, I buy my kimchee, but if you want to try making it, I will include a recipe for that too)
water, or asian style chicken/beef stock if you have it around
2 green onions, sliced into diagonal 4-5 cm pieces
1 fresh chilli, cut into slices
1 tablespoon korean chilli powder
chunck of butter
1 400g pack soft tofu, cut into bite size cubes
sesame oil

Place pork in bowl, add all the ingredients for the marinade, and mix until pork is well coated.  Let sit for a few mintues, until the liquid is absorbed by the pork.

In a medium sized pot, heat oil and fry up the pork until no longer pink.  Add kimchi.  Saute for a couple of minutes.  Add enough water/stock so that it covers the contents, with a bit of extra liquid on top.  Bring to a boil.  Add green onions, chilli, chilli powder, butter.  Add tofu, careful not to break it when stirring and boil gently for 30 min.  Taste and season with salt, pepper and sesame oil.

You can eat this right away, but it tastes WAY better if you eat it the next day.  Try to eat all of the tofu if you have leftovers.  The stew keeps well in the fridge, and you can add fresh tofu when you boil it up again.

Pasta “Classico”

This is my husband’s version of “puttanesca” sauce, which he has over the years perfected and mastered.  No matter how often we have this dish, we never seem to grow tired of it!

Seves 2

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 oil packed anchovy filets, chopped
1 medium shallot, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 oil packed sundried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons pesto
1-2 chillies, poked 3-4 times with fork
1 glass red wine
1 400g can of italian grown tomatoes
2 tablespoons capers
handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
2/3 of a 500g package of spaghetti or linguine
freshly grated parmesean or grana padano

In a large skillet, heat oil and add anchovy and stir until it becomes a paste.  Add shallots and garlic, saute for a few minutes.  Add sundried tomatoes, pesto and chillies, again saute for a few minutes  Add red wine, and reduce.   Add canned tomatoes, and resist the temptation to burst the tomatoes!  Instead, let them simmer as a whole, and you can crush them once they start to fall apart on their own.  Your sauce won’t turn bitter this way, or at least that is what my husband says!  Add capers, and half of the basil, and a little salt and lots of pepper.  Cover and let simmer for 10 min.  In the meanwhile, boil up some water, and add lots of salt just before adding the pasta.  Drain before the pasta is done to your liking, and add to the skillet with the tomato sauce.  Mix well, add rest of basil and cook all together for a couple of minutes.  Add salt if needed, serve immediately, with lots of cheese on top.