Won Kim of Kimski Credit: Julia Thiel

Ponce, also known as chaudin, is a sausage-stuffed pig stomach traditional in Cajun cuisine. In Chicago it’s all but nonexistent. So when Caleb Trahan of Bread & Wine challenged Won Kim, chef of the yet-to-open Kimski, to create a dish with ponce, Kim’s first task was locating some. He called around to local butcher shops with no luck before asking some chef friends for help.

As it turned out, Dan Salls of the Salsa Truck and the Garage was about to go make ponce with Alfredo Nogueira, who serves Cajun and creole food at Analogue. The pair agreed to create an extra one for Kim; they even made him another in a ballotine—rolling sausage tightly in a splayed-open pig stomach and then tying up the log—as well as the more traditional whole stuffed stomach.

The whole stomach was also a bit of a departure from the traditional ponce: pig stomach isn’t particularly easy to find in Chicago, and the only ones the chefs could get had already been cut open. “They sort of quilted the stomach together,” Kim says, to try to re-create what a whole stomach would look like. “It looks like some Lord of the Rings-esque grandmother made it,” Kim says. “I don’t even know if it’s all from the same pig, honestly. It could be like five stomachs.” 

Because Kim is Korean—as is the food he usually cooks—he prepared a Korean take on the Cajun dish. Dangmyeon, or noodles made from sweet potato starch, served as a bed for the ponce; Kim tossed the noodles with a fermented chile sauce made with sesame seed oil, soju, and rice vinegar. For the ponce itself, he stuck with the neater ballotine style, poaching the whole thing before cutting off a thick slice, which he tempura-battered and fried. Kim served it with earthy panfried trumpet mushrooms, pickled onions for acidity, and sesame leaves, which he says add “a bright kind of bitterness.”

The ponce, Kim says, is “everything I love about a sausage—spiced well, good texture. Good job, Dan! It doesn’t taste like shit at all.” Kim also liked the chewiness of the stomach surrounding the sausage. “I like to know that I’m eating stomach,” he said. “Fuck Caleb still, but I think it worked out.”

Tempura-battered and fried ponce, trumpet mushrooms, pickled onions, sesame leaves
Tempura-battered and fried ponce, trumpet mushrooms, pickled onions, sesame leavesCredit: Julia Thiel

Who’s next:

Kim has challenged Salls to create a dish with horseradish.