1. The kitchen has to be completely cleaned and ready for the next day.
2. Kids have to be in bed.
3. The room has to be completely dark.
4. The room has to be completely silent.
5. I have to read something (ANYTHING) for 10 minutes to set my mind at rest.
6. I have to have showered no more than 3 hours before bedtime, and I have to put on fresh "inside bed" clothes and put in the laundry basket, my "outside world" clothes.
7. The only thing touching me can be the sheets, the pillow, and the mattress. No human contact.
Now, every once in a while, my seven conditions are met, but usually, one or two out of the seven aren't met. I'm a mother to three kids, a wife to Husband who likes to work late in bed (laptop screen glare and noise in particular are really difficult for me to manage), and I technically need to be in a sensory deprivation tank for sleep to be good. I know, it's not going to happen. But on those days, those rare days when all the conditions are met, the sleep is amazing. Ahhh....
Now for all my difficulties with sleep, Husband has equally as many conditions for his kimchi chigae.
1. There can't be too much pork or meat flavor.
2. The broth needs to be lighter and less rich.
3. The broth to kimchi ratio leans heavily towards the broth side.
4. The broth can't be sweet.
5. The broth can't be too salty.
6. The tofu can't overtake the kimchi.
7. The soup must be served piping hot with rice.
Just as I have continued to nag Husband about helping me reach my seven conditions of sleep, he has nagged me endlessly about the kimchi tofu soup of his personal preference. After 12 years of arguing with him that he was simply WRONG about his soup (he is, but oh well) I decided to revisit my old method of kimchi soup and lighten it up in his favor.
It turns out his desire just makes a different soup - not a better one, but a different one. And as an added benefit, it turns out that Son actually likes this version as well and the Father-Son combo enjoy this soup regularly. It's slightly more complicated than a regular kimchi stew, but you'll get more bang for your kimchi (meaning more soup for the same amount of kimchi) so in the end it's a good investmentt. My favorite finish on this soup is an egg (or two woo hoo!) cooked in the final stages of the soup so I get a runny yolk messing with the rest of the spicy broth. In order to accomodate Son's egg allergy, I take a portion of the soup and add it to a small pot so that I can cook my egg.
Kimchi Tofu Soup (김치순두부찌개)
Serves 6 to 8 people
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
¼ lb Korean pork belly or other pork or beef cut of your choice
5 cups drained kimchi (place in a strainer over a bowl), roughly chopped - reserve 1 cup of kimchi liquid
2 tablespoons gochujang(고추장 - Korean hot pepper paste)
2 tablespoons soup soy sauce (국간장) or reduced-sodium soy sauce
8 cups water
6 or more eggs (depending on your egg love)
1 package tofu (medium firm) cut into 1 inch chunks
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
8 scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
In a large pot, over medium heat add oil and pork belly. Cook until pork belly has rendered some of the fat and is getting golden brown. Add drained kimchi and gochujang and soy sauce. Cook until gochujang and soy sauce is all incorporated and the mix is started to darken, about 5 minutes.
Add to pot 1 cup of reserved kimchi liquid and 8 cups of water to pot. Bring to boil and cover; reduce heat to maintain simmer for about 25 minutes or until kimchi is translucent.
Add tofu and cook for another 5 minutes. If desired crack eggs soup or put some soup in a smaller pot to add eggs. Cook an additional 2 minutes. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds
Serve hot with rice.
Now, off to bed.