To be cooked & enjoyed when you’ve said goodbye to someone (or something) you care about…
Saying goodbye is never easy. In fact, whether it’s a lover, a house, or a chapter of your life – saying goodbye doesn’t ever seem to get any easier. This week I had to say goodbye to a beautiful soul that became my love & joy during the short time he lived with me. Mocha (小白) was abandoned by his previous owners at my local Da An (大安) Park. He is a stunning chocolate-coloured Lab X (we think anyway…) with a gigantic heart & the cutest wee puppy eyes you ever did see (move aside Puss’n’Boots!). A friend rescued him from the park and I became his foster mummy until we found him a “forever home”. If I had it my way, I would have become his “forever mummy” in an instant, but such are the laws of international pet relocation that I would never have been able to bring him home to New Zealand.
Now I don’t mean to go off topic, but have you met a dog that understands “sit” in Chinese, “paw” in Korean, “come here” in Spanish, and “let’s go” in English?! Only 2 of these languages are used in this video clip – but you get the idea of his uber cuteness & dogtelligence ^.^
Luckily, we found a loving family for him – and this week, he moved into his new home. As you can imagine, I was totally heartbroken. I came home to the deafening silence of him not waiting eagerly at the front door. I woke up to the deafening silence of him not trying to get under the covers & lick my face. I found myself stopping mid-sentence: “baby we should take you out for a wa…” before realising he wasn’t there. As I said before, saying goodbye is never easy.
This is very “Korean” of me (whatever that means!) but I felt like cooking & eating this meal made me feel just a wee bit better about having said goodbye to Mocha. At the heart of this meal is something called gochujang (고추장) – probably Korea’s most cherished & well-used spice. It’s a spicy red paste made of steamed rice or barley, rice cake powder (or rice porridge) mixed with fermented soybean powder, salt, and red chilli powder. It’s spicy, but slightly sweet, with a hint of malty, salty tones. It can be found at almost any Asian grocery store around the world and is often packaged like this.
I reckon gochujang makes any meal suddenly taste “Korean” (which of course is awesome!) but it also has some amazing health benefits that are helpful when you’ve just had to say goodbye. First of all, gochujang alleviates pain by wearing down the pain messengers in your body. It does this through stimulating a pain messenger called substance P until all of it is released and there is no more available. This makes the body’s nervous system unable to recognise the pain anymore (temporarily, of course). Furthermore, gochujang helps protect your heart by lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and preventing clotting & hardening of the arteries.
So when you’re feeling sad & broken-hearted about having had to say goodbye – why not try this meal which tastes good, alleviates the pain, and protects your heart?
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” (Dr. Seuss)
“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.” (Irish blessing)
“It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” (Boyz II Men)
- Pork (2-3 cups, preferably pork belly, thinly sliced)
- Onion (1 medium sized, cut into large chunks)
- Carrot (1 small sized, cut into baby finger sized pieces)
- Okra (7-10 medium sized, cut in half)
- Gochujang (3 tbsp)
- Cooking wine (3 tbsp)
- Sugar (2 tbsp)
- Crushed garlic (2 tbsp)
- Crushed apple (2 tbsp)
- Oyster sauce (1 tbsp)
- Soy sauce (1 tbsp)
- Sesame oil (1 tbsp)
- Korean rice cakes (1 cup, optional)
- Rice (to be served with pork dish)
COOKING INSTRUCTIONS (Preparation)
- In a big bowl, add the pork, onion, carrot, okra, and all ingredients for the marinade; and mix together using your hand. I usually put a disposable glove on before squishing everything together.
- Cover with wrap and put in the fridge overnight or for as long as you have time for.
COOKING INSTRUCTIONS (Cooking)
- In a deep pan or wok, add the marinated meat/veges and cook until the pork is cooked.
- If there isn’t enough liquid, add a little bit of water along with the Korean rice cakes, and cook for a few minutes until the rice cakes are soft but chewy.
- Be careful not to overcook the rice cakes as they have a tendency to just get mushy if you do.
- Serve with warm mixed-grain rice 🙂