My first impression of Korean food was its striking similarity to eastern European cuisine. Some dishes reminded me a lot of my grandmother’s goulash. I noticed that gochugaru had sweet aromatic properties similar to Hungarian paprika. Kimchi jjigae tasted a bit like borscht, which is why it’s great with a dollop of sour cream.
It wasn’t until I was in that international cooking contest that I saw a dish by Maria Bakhmurova that made me smack my forehead–Kimchi Golubtsy.
They’re just like my grandmother’s cabbage rolls (which we called “Pigs in a Blanket”) but with kimchi. Yes, I know the LiteralNet will point out that kimchi is pickled cabbage, but you see why I slapped my forehead. Such a simple leap in ingredients. And the tartness in the kimchi reduces the need for a sour vinegary sauce. I wasn’t able to talk to Maria and ask for her recipe, so I had to try to make this on my own. But make sure that credit goes to her for the original idea.
Score the tomatoes by making a cross on one end. Start some boiling water and get ready a bath of ice water in a bowl. When the water boils, put the tomatoes in for around 20 seconds and immediately douse them in the bowl of ice water.
Peel the tomatoes and squish them to get out the seeds and excess juice. Chop them up and set aside.
Brown the pork in a skillet over medium high heat.
Add 1/4 cup of the tomatoes, onion, garlic and red wine. Let much of the liquid boil out so it's a little thick.
Add the sesame leaves and take off the heat.
When the meat has cooled a bit, add the egg, rice, salt and pepper and mix by hand.
Separate the kimchi leaves from the main head and steam them in a steamer basket over boiling water for two minutes. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Take a kimchi leaf and put around a tablespoon or two of the meat mixture near the root side. Roll the root side over the meat like you're tucking it into bed. Fold the sides over and finish rolling it like a burrito or egg roll. You may need to cut some of the leaves in half if they're too large.
Place all the kimchi rolls in a casserole dish and cover with the remaining tomatoes. Layer any remaining leaves on top.
Cook in the oven, covered, for 30-45 minutes. Let settle a bit and serve.