kimchi jiggae with pork belly

1/4 lb pork belly
or protein of choice such as leftover rotisserie chicken, bacon, or spam
4 stalks green onions
diced with white bottom stalks separated from green tops
3 cloves garlic
sliced fine
2 jalapeno
optional, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups kimchi
chopped, aged enough to be sour
kimchi juice
enough to cover everything, could also replace or supplement with chicken or ramen broth
1 slice american cheese
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 whole tomato
optional, medium in size, sliced into wedges
1 pack tofu
super soft
steamed rice
korean seasoned nori
We happily cook this dish at least once a month. This is the perfect meal for a cold evening or when you feel sick.

The base is always the same - sautee veggies and kim chee, add liquid and simmer - but variations over the years include the incorporation of home made chicken broth and the addition of American cheese at the end. We make this dish slightly different each time, modifying it as we learn new information and techniques, but we always serve it with rice and a side of Korean seaweed. Mix and match the ingredients and steps below to your family’s taste.

Adapted from word of mouth and internet recipes, along with tips from David Chang's Momofuku and Marja Vongerichten's The Kimchi Chronicles.
If using pork belly, bacon, or spam, slice and season meat and sear in kim chee pot. Remove from pot and reserve. Drain excess fat. If using leftover rotisserie chicken, slice or shred then reserve.
Saute the white part of the green onions while reserving the green tops. Add the garlic after a few minutes, and jalapeno if using. Then increase the heat and add the kimchi. Sautee until the kimchi is warmed through and slightly softened.
Add liquid - kim chee juice and water/chicken broth - and bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer with lid ajar for at least 15 minutes.
Add tomatoes, tofu, and green onion tops. Stir gently to warm. If using optional seasoning ingredients, also add and stir to warm. Last, add protein and stir until warm.
Serve immediately and serve with rice and squares of Korean seaweed.
The American cheese at the end struck as as weird too when we first read it, but it was so weird that we had to try it. Something magical happens when you drop in the cheese at the end. It first softens then dissolves making the broth a little more opaque and creamy. When you take your first sip of broth, it adds richness, complexity, and some saltiness. American cheese in kim chee is a game-changer in our home! :)