김밥 (Kimbap)

김밥 (Kimbap)

It seems like many cuisines have their own ‘package’ food. Mexican food has burritos, Indian food has samosas, Japanese food has onigiri, Korean food has kimbap. This is a really common food for lunches, for picnics, times when you just need something that can be eaten easily without having to re-heat it or cook anything. It’s really a whole meal in a roll. The name simply means “seaweed rice”, and that’s basically what it is.

This is one of those dishes that can be almost anything you want it to be – it would be simple to make it vegan, vegetarian, or with meat. This recipe uses fried fish cake, but is otherwise vegan. It would be a great way to use up scraps of vegetables you have just sitting in your kitchen, or you can buy things specifically for it and make it special. It’s a good idea to mix flavors, colors and textures so that you really get a great experience not only tasting it, but looking and it and even just chewing it as well.

Ingredients

  • Pickled korean radish (3 long chunks)
  • Pickled burdock root (3 long slices)
  • Fried fish cake (6 long strips)
  • 2 carrots, cut in matchsticks
  • 1 Korean pickled cucumber, cut in matchsticks
  • 1 bunch of spinach, mostly de-stemmed (it’s not necessary to be really careful about de-stemming it)
  • 1 can tuna or tuna salad made with 1 can tuna
  • 2 cups cooked rice (2 cups when measured dry, measured with the rice cup measurement, not the normal cooking cup)
  • 3 sheets seaweed (김)
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt

Directions

  1. First prepare your fillings. The pickled Korean radish can be purchased whole or already cut into long chunks (see the yellow vegetable in the above photo). Same with the burdock root. If you purchase them whole, cut them as seen above. Cut the fish cake into strips, and the cucumber and carrot into matchsticks.
  2. Cook your two cups of rice according to the directions on the package. This should be Korean or Japanese short to medium grain rice.
  3. Once the rice is cooked, drizzle in a small amount of sesame oil, and salt to taste, and mix it well with a fork, chopsticks or a rice paddle. Set the rice aside to cool.
  4. Fill a bowl with cold water, and then in a small pot, bring plain water to boil. Toss in the spinach and let it sit for just one minute, until it is soft.
  5. Remove the spinach from the hot water, and put it in the cold water to stop it from cooking further. Once it has cooled, remove it from the cold water, and squeeze it firmly to remove most of the water.
  6. Toss the spinach with a small amount of sesame oil and salt.
  7. Once the rice has mostly cooled (it can still be warm, but you don’t want it to be wet or steaming much), lay out a sheet of seaweed, and thinly cover it with rice. Try to get the rice as close to the edges as you can.
  8. Lay out the fillings you are putting in perpendicular to your line of sight (parallel with the counter), towards the side of the seaweed closest to you. Don’t put too much in, or it will be difficult to wrap the whole thing around it.
  9. Lift up the edge of the seaweed closest to you, and fold it over the fillings. Tuck in the edge of the seaweed around the fillings tightly so that they are not loose inside the roll. Make sure the whole edge of the seaweed is evenly tucked in.
  10. Finish rolling the seaweed until you get to the end and have a finished roll. Set the roll seam-side down and let sit for a few minutes to solidify.
  11. Either lightly wet your knife, or lightly coat it with sesame oil, and slice the rolls into bite-sized rounds.
  12. That’s it, you’re done! Enjoy!

김밥

김밥

김밥

김밥

김밥

김밥

순두부찌개 (Sundubu Jjigae)

순두부지개
We often say that the simple rustic food of a country is the very best, and this is another piece of evidence to support that argument. The ingredients and preparation for this stew are very simple, but the resulting soup is complex and delicious, spicy and rich.

I think people in western cultures often view tofu as something that you would only eat if you’re trying to avoid meat (that is, it’s a compromise if you need protein but don’t want meat – not something you would just eat because you enjoy it), but having it in a setting like this might completely change your mind, as the texture is perfect, and it soaks up all the flavor from the broth and becomes an integral part of the soup along with the ground pork.

As always, adjust amounts of things according to your taste and how you want the soup to be. The amounts we’re posting here are mostly approximate anyway, as we never measure anything.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 2 cups kimchi
  • 4-6 cups dashi or anchovy (like dashi but made with dried anchovies instead of katsuobushi) broth
  • 6-10 shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed and halved (optional)
  • 1-2 tubes/blocks of the softest tofu you can find.
  • 1-2 eggs (optional)
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
  • 고추가루 (Dried red chili flakes)
  • 고추장 (Spicy red chili paste)
  • 된장 (Fermented bean paste) or miso paste.
  • Rice vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Sesame oil
  • Brown sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium to large pot, cook the ground pork in a little bit of sesame oil until nearly done, breaking it into crumbles as it cooks. Add some salt, pepper, and red chili flakes as it is cooking.
  2. Add in the garlic and ginger, and cook for about a minute until everything starts smelling really good.
  3. Add the kimchi, and cook just long enough to warm it up.
  4. Add the broth, some rice vinegar, brown sugar, and mushrooms and bring up to a simmer.
  5. Add some chili paste, chili flakes, bean paste, salt and black pepper to taste.
  6. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly to a high simmer and let cook, covered, for about 15-20 minutes
  7. Finally, add the tofu in on top of the pot and break it apart into large pieces. If your tofu is really soft it should just naturally break apart in the broth. Let the tofu simmer in the broth for another 10 minutes or so.
  8. Optionally, bring the soup back up to a rolling boil and crack an egg or two right into the stew.
  9. Dish up in bowls, and garnish with a little drizzle of sesame oil and a light sprinkle of chili flakes.

잡채 (Japchae)

Japchae!

We generally love all forms of starch – potatoes, bread, rice, and in this case, noodles. We love noodle dishes from all kinds of cuisines – Italian to Chinese to Korean. This Korean dish is one that is often served at parties and special occasions, but is really nothing complicated or labor-intensive. It is a pretty basic stir-fry served over sweet-potato noodles. The noodles have a fantastic texture, and the combination of the simple seasonings of sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, salt and pepper with the lightly stir-fried ingredients makes for a simple, yet satisfying meal.

Ingredients

  • Carrots, cut into small sticks
  • Zucchini, cut into small sticks
  • Green onion, chopped
  • White or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • Mushrooms, cut in small pieces
  • Thinly-sliced beef, cut into small pieces (optional)
  • Large handful of sweet-potato noodles (당면)
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Sugar
  • Mirin or rice vinegar

Directions

  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil for the noodles. Once the water is boiling, follow the directions on the package for cooking the noodles, then drain, rinse with cold water, and remove to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Toss the noodles with a small amount of sesame oil and soy sauce, just to coat the noodles and keep them from sticking together.
  3. In a wok or frying pan over medium heat, heat up a small amount of sesame oil until it is quite hot, and stir-fry the onions until soft and/or lightly browned, seasoning lightly with salt. Remove to the mixing bowl.
  4. Add another small amount of sesame oil to the wok or pan, and stir-fry the carrots until they are as soft as you would like, seasoning lightly with salt – we prefer them to still have a little crunch. Remove to the mixing bowl.
  5. Repeat step 3 with the zucchini.
  6. Add another small amount of sesame oil to the wok or pan, and then add the mushrooms and beef and stir-fry until the beef is just cooked through, seasoning lightly with salt. Remove to the mixing bowl.
  7. Mix together about 2 tbsp of sesame oil, 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of sugar, and 1 tbsp of mirin or rice vinegar (if you use vinegar, maybe add another 1/2 tbsp of sugar), stir until sugar dissolves, and the pour into the mixing bowl.
  8. Toss all the ingredients in the mixing bowl until all the ingredients are well-coated with the sauce, and then plate and serve!
Japchae!
Japchae!
Japchae!

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Homemade Kimchi

In case you are wondering what kinds of things you could do with your home-made kimchi, other than just eat it straight out of the jar: we offer you this delicious, and perhaps slightly unexpected combination inspired by a local sandwich place, Lardo.

A friend of ours was in town recently, and left us with a bag of smoked pulled pork. What did we do with it? Lightly coated it in some BBQ sauce, put it in the oven at 350F (175 C) until the sauce started sizzling, then scooped it onto a fresh ciabatta roll, drizzled a little more BBQ sauce, and then heaped kimchi on top.

You definitely should try it.

Pulled pork sandwich with homemade kimchi.

김치 (Kimchi)

김치 Kimchi!

Following in the vein of preserving foods, pickling, fermenting, etc – we decided to try kimchi, a korean fermented cabbage dish. Actually, there are hundreds of varieties of kimchi, anything from cabbage to radish to garlic stems to cucumber. Napa cabbage kimchi is the most common, and what you would refer to if just saying ‘kimchi’ without specifying which type. We followed the recipe for Traditional Napa Cabbage Kimchi from koreanbapsang.com, except we didn’t put radish in with the cabbage, and we left out the fresh shrimp. It turned out delicious and very flavorful, but not extremely spicy, so if you like it spicy, I would up the amount of chili flakes.
Ingredients

  • 1 large napa cabbage (5-6 lbs)
  • About 1 cup coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon glutinous rice powder (찹쌀가루)
  • 1/2 cup red chili flakes (고추가루)
  • 1/4 cup fermented shrimp (새우젓), finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

  1. Cut a slit about 2-3 inches deep in the root end of the cabbage, and then pry the cabbage apart into halves. This allows the leaves to be pulled apart and to stay whole, instead of being shredded by the knife. Repeat with each half, so that you have 4 whole quarters of the cabbage.
  2. If the cabbage looks dirty, rinse lightly in water to remove the loose dirt.
  3. In a large bowl, dissolve 1/2 cup of salt in 5 cups of water. Thoroughly douse each cabbage quarter in the salted water, then shake off the excess, and put into a large pot or bowl (we use our stock pot).
  4. Take each quarter cabbage, and sprinkle salt mostly on the thick white portions of each cabbage leaf, then replace into the large pot/bowl. Use about 1/2 cup of salt total for the whole cabbage.
  5. Pour the salted water from step 3 over the cabbage quarters, and let them sit in the salted water for around 6 hours, turning them over every 2 hours so that each part has time to soak. The thick white parts of the cabbage should be soft and bend easily when it is ready to take out.
  6. After the cabbage has been soaking for around 4 hours, mix the garlic, ginger, fish sauce, fermented shrimp, chili flakes and 1/2 cup water together in a large bowl.
  7. In a small saucepan, mix together the 1 tablespoon glutinous rice powder with 1/2 cup water, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens into a paste. Take off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, then mix with the other seasonings in the large bowl.
  8. Once the cabbage is done soaking, take the cabbage quarters out of the water and rinse thoroughly, making sure all the salt is washed away. Squeeze the excess water out after rinsing.
  9. Place one quarter of the cabbage in the bowl with the seasoning mix, and, while wearing kitchen gloves to avoid chili burns, coat each leaf with a little bit of the mixture, using about 1/4 of it for each quarter of the cabbage. Repeat with each quarter of the cabbage.
  10. Fold the top soft leaf parts of each cabbage quarter over the thick stem parts, and place into a glass jar or air-tight container. Press each down firmly to remove air pockets and make sure they are tightly packed.
  11. Rinse the seasoning mix bowl with 1/2 cup of water and pour over the cabbage. Seal the top and set out at room temperature.
  12. Leave kimchi out at room temperature for about 2 days, then place in the refrigerator. The kimchi is edible at this point, but will taste best after a few days to a week in the refrigerator.

Kimchi.
Kimchi.
Kimchi.
Kimchi.
Kimchi.
Kimchi.
Kimchi.