They say that when you become pregnant, the foods that you crave are the foods that you grew up with – Comfort Foods. For me, growing up my dining experience was very much a Korean one, with rice being the staple (of course) and then a myriad of dishes, from spicy fish stews to oxtail soup, various types of kimchi and marinated greens, rice cakes and quail eggs, pickled root vegetables and salted fish eggs. When I was younger, bringing friends around for dinner was a mix between awkward and educational – luckily for me my friends were curious and adventurous enough to want to try these weird and wonderful new dishes and my mother is an excellent cook, so regardless of how exotic the flavour combinations may have been, they were always delicious.
The first trimester was horrible for me, to be completely honest. I could only really stomach pineapples and lemons, but now that I have passed (for the most part) the nausea, the cravings have started to take hold of my daily meal requirements. The biggest challenge for me was to satisfy my Korean Food cravings. Living in central France, where even finding tofu can be a bit of a scavenger hunt, trying to procure the ingredients to recreate any of my mother’s Korean dishes was impossible. Luckily, my parents sent me a care package with the needed ingredients to make many of my favourite Korean dishes, and my lovely friends in London sent me a care package with some of the essentials. Namely – KIMCHI.
Kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish that is a side to every single Korean meal. It’s as important (maybe more so) than the rice. This spicy, crunchy condiment is traditionally made of napa cabbage, hot Korean chili flakes, garlic (lots and lots of garlic), salt and fermented shrimp. Mix it all together in a glass bowl, preserve in a glass jar and allow it to ferment for a few days (or weeks – whatever your fancy) et voila – a delicious, stinky, spicy side to your meals.
Kimchi is a fermented food which means that it contains the prebiotics and the probiotics that your gut needs in order to function optimally. The raw garlic acts as a antimicrobial systemically and the dish is a great source of fiber as well. All in all, kimchi is a panacea for many digestive problems, and let me tell ya – it solved my pregnancy constipation in a pinch!!
My favourite dish is Kimchi Jjigae, which is a Kimchi Stew. I took a picture of it which is at the top of this post, and a hot bowl of this with a bowl of rice was Just the thing that I needed to satisfy my craving AND solve my constipation issues all in one go! If you are a kimchi lover like I am (and like a growing population of the world is, given the number of Korean Fusion pop up restaurants and the success of the Momofuku restaurant empire in NYC, Toronto and beyond…) then this simple stew is right up your alley. It’s simple, it’s healthy, it’s filling AND it’s great for your gastrointestinal tract.
RECIPE KIMCHI JJIGAE
200g Pork Belly (you can replace this with 1-2 cans of tuna if you wish)
4 – 5 cups of chopped Kimchi (home made or store bought – use the juice as well!)
1 heaping tsp of Korean Red Pepper Paste
1 tsp of sugar (Can use maple syrup as well)
2 -3 cups of water (depends how concentrated you want the stew)
1/2 package of tofu chopped into chunks
Spring onions chopped
In large pot, throw in the kimchi, the water, the pork belly, the sugar, the red pepper paste and the water.
Bring to a boil then lower it down to a simmer.
Let simmer half covered for about 30-45 minutes.
At the last minute, add the tofu and spring onions before serving.
Eat with rice.
Poo like a champ.