Fate. Do you believe? Chance occurrences that tug us this way and that, seemingly random and without objective, but ultimately with a purpose we could not have even guessed. A tricky subject, fate. Do we relinquish all control to it? Or do we take our free will firmly in hand, never let go, and leave no room for fate in our life?
I think life is a little bit of both. Happiness lies in finding the balance between going for what you want with determined intent and purpose, and allowing life to take you in its current with wonder still in your heart. It’s believing in your own power and a higher power all at once, and seeing that it is not at all contradictory.
Choice and fate – they don’t have to be at opposite ends of the dance floor. I choose to trust in fate the same way I can choose to change my fate. I choose to pick myself up and look on the bright side. These are things that I choose to do.
And fate can help, if you let it. It can lead you to happy accidents like meeting your husband, or a tiny seaside restaurant that serves the best cazuela de mariscos, or a recipe not followed that turns out even better that you expected.
- 3 tablespoons Korean red chili pepper paste (gochujang)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine (or mirin)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic, very finely minced
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 400-500 grams “bacon-cut” pork belly (if you don’t see this cut, just ask the butcher to slice the pork belly thinly)
- 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 3-4 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
- A drizzle of canola oil
- Optional: Korean red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru) or any dried chili flakes – the original recipe called for it but I didn’t have any so I went without. You can go ahead and add chili flakes if you’d like it spicier.
- Place the gochujang, soy sauce, rice wine/mirin, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, pepper in a bowl and mix well.
- Cut the pork belly into pieces about 2 inches long.
- Mix the pork with the onions, spring onions, and marinade. Mix well and marinate for at least an hour.
- Heat a skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add a touch of oil just so the meat won’t stick. Add the pork belly and marinade into the pan, scrape everything in there. Cook, tossing frequently, until pork is cooked and the marinade has bubbled and reduced. There won’t be much marinade left, it will be coating the meat thickly.
- Serve garnished with more spring onions atop a steaming pile of rice!
Alright. First things first. Why “faux bulgogi”? Because in the original recipe you are supposed to grill the pork strips, or at the very least lay them on a skillet nicely and cook them one side at a time. I’ll admit, I was not trying to achieve a better result by dumping the whole lot (pork, marinade, and all) in my skillet – I was, in fact, just lazy. But what a fortuitous delight (happy accident!) that turned out to be. The marinade turned thick and sticky and amazing, clinging and coating the pork while the onions softened and turned just a touch caramelized.
This recipe also led me to the discovery of gochujang and I am smitten! I need to go out and buy (much) more because I am most definitely making this again, and I am very excited to find other ways to use it.
Happy accidents – really, where would we be without them? Let them happen!