My five-ingredient dinner. In one pot. I am quite proud of my defiantly unsophisticated creation, and lived off variants of this the entire winter (which was three months long…). TMI: my routine usually involves putting everything in a pot, bringing it to a boil then letting it cook while I take a shower. By the time I’m ready to eat it’s ready to be eaten and as a bonus I’m clean.

This is an exact science, up to a point. You need to have five components because each of them plays a very specific part. We have:

  1. Rice (COOKED!). This is utterly important because it makes everything milky, and the starch helps to thicken the soupstewporridgething. I like a short-grained rice (here I am using white Calrose, but I often use brown, which has the added benefit of being less mushy).
  2. Meat. Fatty pork is best. Sardines (tinned, with juices) are phenomenal, so is mackerel. Beef doesn’t fare so well unless you have a really nice marbly chunk. Here I am using chicken, which is fine but DARK MEAT PLEASE. This makes the soup rich. You don’t need much at all, two or three ounces is plenty; just cut into little pieces.
  3. Onion. Absolutely crucial for sweetness! White onions are best, yellow is ok, red is a little weird but I’ve been there before. Lots and lots of green onions too. Maybe a quarter of a white onion chopped into half inch pieces and one green onion, chopped.
  4. Fermented beans. The soul of it all~ Today I used doenjang but I usually use ssamjang. I think this is probably not how the pastes are supposed to be used, but whatever. If getting korean groceries is difficult, Japanese miso is beautiful, and so is the Chinese version doubanjiang. Add a heaping tablespoon to start and adjust from there.
  5. Veggies. For good measure. ALWAYS cabbage (I’m partial to Savoy, but green/napa are lovely too). Sometimes carrots, sliced, or mushrooms. Cut into bite size pieces.

And then there is the method, which is not a method. You put everything in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil. Then you let it simmer for 20-30 minutes. And you add a bird’s eye chili (or not).

When I feel fancy and pseudocheffy I try to be consistent within the cuisine. So with miso I’ll add some wakame, and some sesame seeds. Or with the korean pastes I’ll add kimchi. Or with doubanjiang I’ll skip meat and use tofu. Sometimes (um, often), my meat-defrosting schedule breaks down and I have no meat anyway, so I just crack an egg in at the end. I HOPE YOU TRY THIS IT’S DELICIOUS & CHEAP & NUTRITIOUS, and has aided my college life tremendously.


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