The Korean Paella as served at Secret Bao in Santa Barbara, CA, as seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives; Season 37.
Recipe courtesy of Secret Bao

Korean Paella

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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 8 hr 40 min (includes fermenting time)
  • Active: 1 hr 50 min
  • Yield: 4 servings



Pork Belly:

Hooni Sauce:


Soy Pickled Shiitakes:


Kimchi Marinade:


Special equipment:
kitchen gloves; an 11-inch paella pan
  1. For the kimchi: Quarter the napa cabbage, then sprinkle with the Korean sea salt and set aside for a couple hours.
  2. Rinse the cabbage in cold water and let drain dry for a few minutes. Meanwhile, put on some gloves, as it will get messy. Spread the Kimchi Marinade diligently on all the cabbage leaves and place in a glass or porcelain container. Press down to push out the excess air. If not using immediately, let sit at room temperature for 1 day, then refrigerate for 2 to 4 more days for best results.
  3. For the pork belly: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  4. Rub the pork belly on both sides with the shichimi togarashi, granulated sugar and salt and roast until tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  5. For the hooni sauce: Place the garlic, granulated sugar, onion, apples, apple pears, ginger, shiitake, kombu and 2 quarts water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer until all the vegetables are tender. Remove the kombu and shiitake, then add the vinegar, chile flakes, salt, soy sauce and sesame seeds to the pot and mix well. Blend using either an immersion hand blender or regular blender. Set aside.
  6. For the sofrito: Chop 1 cup kimchi. Transfer to a sauté pan with olive oil and the garlic, bell pepper, young ginger and onion. Cook until well caramelized. (This step is not 100% necessary but speeds up the cooking process of the paella.)
  7. For the soy pickled shiitakes: Put the shiitakes, soy sauce, granulated sugar, vinegar and ginger into a pot and bring to a boil, then let cool to room temperature.
  8. For the paella: Heat an 11-inch paella pan. Sear the pork belly until well caramelized on both sides, then remove. Add the sofrito, chicken stock and rice to the pan, along with the saffron and salt. Bring to boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, then add the tofu, soy pickled shitakes and pork belly. Let simmer until the liquid is gone and a socarrat (crunchy rice) starts to form, another 10 to 15 minutes. Cook the eggs in a nonstick pan to sunny-side up and place on top of the paella. Garnish with the mayo, scallions, furikake, lemon wedges and chile threads.

Kimchi Marinade:

  1. Put the rice flour, granulated sugar and 1 cup water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cool to room temperature, then mix with the red pepper flakes, fish sauce, ginger, garlic and scallions in a mixing bowl.

Cook’s Note

Make any or all components ahead of time. The kimchi, hooni sauce and soy pickled shitakes should all be made ahead of time.