Recipe: Korean Style Arrabbiata Sauce

You can laugh all you want about how I'm fitting the stereotype but sometimes when I go a few meals without kimchi I get these mad cravings for some of that pickled goodness.

Recently I had one of such urges but I also had a large jar of opened tomato sauce in the fridge which was not only taking up a lot of room but I knew I had to use up soon. This led to an interesting question over what would result from the marrying of the two and this ultimately led to the creation of this dish.

I have to say such "fusion" Korean-Italian dishes aren't unique in Korea but they're often quite pretentious. Pasta dishes in general still convey a "luxurious" image in Korea and this somehow justifies the often exorbitant prices in restaurants for Italian dishes (with their names italicized on the menu for added effect). 

Arrabbiata sauce, however, is an inexpensive and common spicy sauce in Italian cooking with arrabbiata literally meaning "angry" and referring to its heat. The dish is a simple one that traditionally uses ingredients such as tomatoes, basil, garlic and chili peppers. In Korean cooking, kimchi, pork belly, perilla leaves ("kkaetnip") and red pepper paste (gochujang) are common ingredients so I experimented with a swapping to make this hybrid dish. It's Italian arrabbiata meets a Korean pork belly wrap.

I don't claim it to be a glorified version of anything. It's just something that simply came out of wanting the best of both worlds for a humble meal. 

Korean Style Arrabbiata Sauce
Makes 4 servings

You'll need:
- 1 1/2 cup of Penne pasta 
- 1 cup of ripened Kimchi (chopped)
- 2 Garlic cloves (minced or sliced)
- 6 Perilla leaves (sliced into strips)
- 1 stalk of Green Onion 
- 1 tbsp of Red Pepper Paste (Gochujang or 고추장)
- 150g of Pork Belly or Bacon 
- 1 28 oz can (about 3.5 cups) of Crushed Tomato or Tomato Sauce (If you have a can of Whole Tomatoes, give it a whirl in a blender before adding)
- 2 tbsp of Olive Oil
- 1/2 a medium sized Onion, sliced (optional)
- 1 cup of sliced mushrooms, sliced (optional) 
- Parmesan Cheese for sprinkling (optional)
- Red Chili Flakes for sprinkling (optional)

1. Cook your pasta in salted boiling water until al dante. Drain and set aside when done. 

2. Meanwhile, wash your veggies and cut them as needed. Perilla leaves should be cut into strips, green onion stalk chopped, garlics minced or sliced (depending on your preference). I chose to slice and add some mushroom and onions for added nutrients.

Chop your ripened kimchi, and slice your pork belly (or bacon) into thin slices. If you like bigger, chewier cuts of meat in your pasta, cut accordingly. 

Diced, chopped, sliced and ready to go

2. Add just a tad bit of olive oil to your pan on medium high heat. The bacon or pork belly will release a lot of fat on its own. Stir for a minute or two before adding the garlic. Stir for another minute. If the pan is too hot make sure to lower your heat temporarily as you don't want to burn your garlic. 

I had bacon on hand, but pork belly should work fine too

3. Add your chopped kimchi to the pan, stir and cook for a minute.

Same start to kimchi fried rice!

4. Add your onions and mushroom (or other vegetables) if you choose to add them. Cook until the onions begin looking translucent.

The onions and mushrooms are optional and added just for nutrient benefits

5.  Add in your green onions and perilla leaves, stir and cook for a minute and then add your tomato paste/sauce. Give it a mix, add the red pepper paste and then mix and cook on medium heat (uncovered) for approximately 6-10 minutes so all the flavors from the pork, garlic, perilla, etc, all incorporate together.

Instead of basil, we're giving it a Korean twist with perilla leaves and green onion

Crushed tomato sauce or pasta sauce works fine

Red pepper paste for the Korean heat

6. When the sauce has slightly thickened and finished cooking, turn off the heat. Add in your cooked penne and gently stir so all the sauce thoroughly coats the pasta.

Let the pasta coat in the flavors

7. Serve the pasta immediately and add Parmesan cheese, chili powder flakes to your liking.

A cool salad with cucumbers and light vinaigrette dressing is a perfect combination for this fiery hybrid dish.


  1. Pretentious or not, I want to glorify you for this delicious looking recipe!

  2. Thanks for your kind words! If you end up trying it out, please let me know how it went :)


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