Spicy Korean-Style Pork Kebabs Recipe

With Labor Day weekend comes back to school and back to business as usual–but it’s not over yet! There is plenty of grilling to be done; summer is not officially at an end. Whether you are in town or heading to a cabin, you can fire up the grill for some sizzling kebabs (with a tofu alternative for vegans). Korean food includes big, bold flavors. For instance, their national condiment is kimchi, which can be quite spicy and is loaded with garlic. For spicy marinades and stews, Korean food employs a thick red chili paste called gochujang, which is available at Asian markets according to Bruce Aidells, author of The Great Meat Cookbook. Aidells created this recipe for Real Food, and he has worked out a reasonable substitute for gochujang by using easy-to-find white miso, Sriracha and paprika. These kebabs are best made with fattier cuts of pork, such as Boston butt or boneless country spareribs. Marinating for 12 to 24 hours is recommended so you can make this ahead and relax until it’s time to fire up the grill, or you can pack it in the cooler and take it with you on the road. Plus, in state fair style, this meal is on a stick!

Spicy Korean-Style Pork Kebabs 

Makes 4 Servings 

2 tablespoons peanut oil 
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced ginger 
2 tablespoons minced garlic 
2 tablespoons rice vinegar 
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons white miso 
1 tablespoon Sriracha
2 tablespoons pure California chili powder or Hungarian paprika 
1/4 cup water 
2 tablespoons light brown sugar 
1/2 cup green onion, white and green parts finely chopped 
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 

2 pounds pork butt or boneless country spareribs, cut in 112-inch cubes
1 medium red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks 
8 ounces extra firm tofu, cut in 1-inch cubes 
1 medium green bell pepper, cut in 1-inch squares
1 medium red bell pepper, cut in 1-inch squares 

1. For the marinade: Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion and cook 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Stir in ginger and garlic, and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until cool. Reserve and refrigerate 1/2 cup.

2. For the kebabs: Place pork in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag. Pour over remaining marinade and shake until coated. Place bag in a bowl or pan and refrigerate 12 to 24 hours, occasionally turning and shaking. 

3. Build a medium-hot charcoal or gas fire. Remove meat from marinade and discard marinade. Thread meat onto skewers, alternating with onion. On separate skewers, sandwich tofu between alternating green and red bell pepper. Brush with reserved marinade.

4. Oil grill and cook over direct heat, turning every 2 to 3 minutes and brushing with marinade. Cook tofu and vegetables 7 minutes, until peppers begin to color and soften. Cook meat 10 minutes, until firm to the touch and faintly pink inside. Gently remove food from skewers to a warm platter. Drizzle over any remaining marinade before serving. 

Nutrition info (per serving): CALORIES 481 (250 from fat); FAT 28g (sat. 8g); CHOL 100mg; SODIUM 818mg; CARB 16g; FIBER 3g; PROTEIN 42g 

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.