Jarred kimchi — available in the refrigerated sections of most large grocery stores — might be the ultimate healthful convenience food. It instantly adds a kick of tangy, pungent, spicy flavor, as well as nutrition: Because it is a fermented food, it’s a source of gut-friendly probiotics — bacteria that are not only good for digestive health but also help the immune system in general.
Flavorwise, this staple of Korean cuisine can be transforming when you layer it on a simple sandwich, use it as topping for a grain bowl or fold it into a taco. And, as showcased in this recipe for pork and broccolini stir-fry with kimchi, it immediately revs up the seasoning of a stir-fry so you can pare down the overall ingredient list and still get big, bold flavor.
After browning lean strips of pork (you could substitute chicken breast or beef sirloin), you stir-fry onion and broccolini until they are charred a bit and softened. (Broccolini is especially convenient here because there is no need to blanch it.) Then garlic and ginger hit the pan before a slurry of broth, cornstarch and soy sauce is poured in to create a lovely, thickened sauce. The kimchi goes in toward the end — just to warm it through gently — because cooking it too long would destroy the good bacteria in it. A dash of hot sauce and a sprinkle of fresh scallions provide a finishing punch.
There is not much prep to do for this dish overall, but be sure to have all of it done before you start cooking. This dish comes together very quickly, making it an ideal weeknight dinner.
Pork and broccolini stir-fry with kimchi
1¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 pound pork tenderloin (may substitute thinly cut chicken or beef sirloin)
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced into half moons
8 ounces broccolini (tough ends trimmed), large stalks halved lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch piece peeled, grated or minced fresh ginger root (about 1 tablespoon)
10 ounces store-bought kimchi, chopped (1 cup)
2 teaspoons gochujang or 1 teaspoon sriracha, or more as needed
2 large scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
Whisk together the broth, cornstarch and soy sauce in a liquid measuring cup, until the cornstarch has dissolved.
Cut the pork crosswise into medallions ¼ inch thick, then cut each medallion in half. Sprinkle the pork with the salt.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet or wok over a medium-high heat. Add half the meat and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring once or twice until it has browned. Repeat with another tablespoon of oil and the remaining pork, transferring the meat to a plate once it has browned.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Then add the onion and broccolini; cook for 3 minutes, or until they have softened slightly and are charred in spots, then stir in the garlic and ginger; cook for 30 seconds more.
Give the broth mixture a quick stir to reincorporate, then add it to the pan. Increase the heat to high and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to form a slightly thickened sauce. Stir in the pork with any accumulated juices, the kimchi and the gochujang or sriracha; cook for 2 minutes, until just warmed through and the pork and broccolini are evenly coated. Taste, and add more gochujang or sriracha, as needed.
Stir in the scallions. Serve over rice. Serve hot.
Makes 4 to 6 servings. Nutrition per serving (based on 6): 200 calories, 20 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fat, 1 grams saturated fat, 50 milligrams cholesterol, 590 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 2 grams sugar.