David Choi, the owner and chef of Seoul Taco in St. Louis, Missouri, says that spicy food and ingredients are “big year-round” in his family. Soups and stews are a staple in Korean cuisine, regardless of the season or temperature. Choi personally likes Kimchi-jjigae, which he makes with pork belly, tofu, and aged kimchi, topped with scallions. “Some people say the spiciness of the food will make you sweat more, which theoretically can help you cool off,” Choi. “My take on eating spicy food during the summer is, I’m going to be sweating either way. I might as well be able to eat a good meal.” Choi started Seoul Taco as a popular Korean-Mexican food truck in St. Louis, before growing the business into four fast-casual restaurant locations in St. Louis and Columbia, MO, as well as Champaign and Chicago, IL. The menu at Seoul Taco reflects the heat of Korean cuisine with spicy pork tacos, served with “Seoul Sauce” and gochujang pepper sauce, and burritos made with Kimchi Fried Rice.
- 1/2 pound of pork belly (cut in cubes)
- 2 cups kimchi (You can use store-bought, but chef prefers kimchi that has been fermenting for at least 2 weeks for it to have the sour acidic taste to it)
- 1/2 to 1 cup kimchi juice from the kimchi jar
- 1/2 pound of tofu cubed
- 3 cups water
- 2-3 green onions
- For added heat: Korean red pepper flakes to taste (as needed as it will make it more spicy)
- Gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste, 1 tablespoon for good measure)
- Cut up cubes of pork belly and toss into a medium-sized pot to cook down. Add kimchi to sauté as well on high heat.
- Once pork and kimchi are seared for 1-2 mins, lower heat to medium or medium-high and add the tofu, kimchi juice, and 3 cups of water to cook for 10-15 mins.
- This is where you can add more pepper flakes and a tablespoon of gochujang for a little more heat.
- Stir the pot and medium heat for another 10 mins with a closed lid. Then add green onions and serve with a side of white rice.