japchae

Korean Stir-Fried Glass Noodles (Japchae)

I heart noodles.

Ramen.

Chow mein.

Pancit.

And especially my mom’s mie goreng (Indonesian fried noodles).

But today, I’d like to give a shout-out to a lesser known noodle dish—japchae.

A classic Korean dish, you’ll find japchae on the menu at just about any Korean restaurant in the U.S. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a party at a Korean friend’s house, japchae will probably show up on your plate together with kalbi and kimchi.

Like many other Asian noodle dishes, japchae is a stir-fried mix of noodles, vegetables and meat. It happens to use an unusual type of noodle made from sweet potato starch, which seems to be unique to Korean cuisine (I’m happy to be proven wrong–anyone?).

Koreans have already shown their ingenuity by mixing rice with other grains to make supplies go further—et voilà, jabgok-bap (mixed grain rice), So perhaps they invented sweet potato starch noodles when wheat was unavailable.

Clear and chewy, sweet potato noodles are a fabulous blank canvas for soaking up the sweet and savory flavors of soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. These pale gray strands are also the reason why japchae is commonly known as glass noodles.

Plus, japchae has mass appeal: it’s popular for feeding a crowd because it’s easy to make in bulk and is tasty both warm or at room temperature—perfect for a buffet or a picnic.

Noodles–signifying long life–are a must during birthdays and the new year. Since Lunar New Year is next week (February 15, 2015), you might want to try slipping japchae into your celebration menu!

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Stir-Fried Glass Noodles (Japchae)

japchae

Japchae is often a co-mingling of noodles and an assortment of vegetables and meat. My recipe uses only vegetables but feel free to add your choice of protein. I’ve sliced up leftover sirloin steak and and barbecued pork (about 1 cup) and tossed them in with the noodles. Sweet potato noodles are sold at Asian markets. If you can’t find them, substitute the fattest mung bean/cellophane noodles available and follow the package directions to cook.

Time: 30 minutes plus soaking
Makes: 6 to 8 servings as part of a multicourse family-style meal

1 pound dried Korean sweet potato noodles
Hot water
8 ounces spinach, trimmed (4 to 5 cups)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
6 medium dried black mushrooms, rehydrated and cut into thin slices (3/4 cup)
1 small yellow onion, halved and cut into thin crescents
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks (1-1/4 cups)
3 green onions, white and green parts, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

  1. Place the noodles in a heatproof bowl and soak in hot water for 15 minutes.
  2. With kitchen shears, cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces. You just want the noodles to be manageable so don’t worry about getting exact lengths. Drain and set aside.
  3. Place the spinach in a heatproof bowl and soak in very hot water for 1 to 2 minutes until wilted but not fully cooked. Rinse under cold running water and drain. Gently squeeze the water from the spinach and cut into 3 sections.
  4. Preheat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Swirl in the oil and heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer. Add the mushrooms, onion, carrots, green onions, and garlic and stir and cook until the carrots are crisp tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and toss in the noodles (here’s where you add precooked meat if you’d like).
  5. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Stir everything swiftly around the wok for 3 to 4 minutes, coating the noodles evenly with the seasonings. Add more oil if the noodles stick to the bottom of the wok. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
  6. Mix in the spinach and sesame seeds at the very end and toss with a couple more flourishes. Serve hot or let cool to room temperature.

Note:  Japchae keeps well and can stay fresh for up to a week in the refrigerator. To reheat, cook in a skillet and add sesame oil until the noodles are supple and heated through.

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This post is for #LetsLunch, a monthly virtual potluck on Twitter.  The theme this month is noodles, hosted by Betty Ann at Asian in America. Please keep coming back for more #Let’sLunch noodle dishes (perfect for Lunar New Year!):

Annabelle‘s Emergency Anti-Hibernal Salad at Glass of Fancy

Betty-Ann‘s Chicken Noodle Soup with Roast Barbecue at Asian in America

Cheryl’s Gingery Chicken and Bokchoy Noodle Soup at A Tiger in the Kitchen

Demetra‘s Southern Style Ramen with Bacon at Sweet Savant

Eleanor‘s Marinara Chicken in a Wok — With Pasta at Wok Star

Juliana‘s Grilled Tofu Spicy Peanut Noodle Salad at J. Loh

Linda‘s Taiwanese Hot Pot at Spicebox Travels

Lisa‘s Lokshen Kugel at Monday Morning Cooking Club

Naomi‘s Biang Biang Noodles at The Gastrognome

Tammi‘s Thai Glass Noodle Salad at Insatiable Munchies

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Teach Your Kids to Love Whole Grains With Jabgok-Bap (Korean Mixed Grain Rice)

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Different colored varieties of rice and grains make for an interesting final mix

“At least half the grains you eat should come from whole grain sources.” I’ve heard this mantra so many times it’s beginning to play in my head like a broken record.

I find it hard enough to abide by that myself all the time but convincing a toddler that chewy whole-wheat bread with grainy bits is tastier than pillow-soft white bread is an even harder sell.

True, it’s best to introduce your kids to whole grains sooner rather than later. Then they’ll think it’s just, well, normal, and grow up assuming that whole-wheat bread is yummy, and white bread is yucky (yeah, right!).

First things first, don’t assume your kids won’t like whole grains. I just leaped right into it, and I was lucky to get tipped off with some great ideas for one of the world’s most popular staple food, rice.

My most serendipitous discovery so far has been Korean jabgok-bap (mixed grain rice). The bag I found at an Asian market comprised barley, millet, sweet brown rice, brown rice, black rice (which gives the rice a pretty purple color when cooked), and white rice.

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Clockwise from top left: brown glutinous rice, black rice, steelcut oats, Bhutanese red rice, brown rice, millet

The ingredients in jabgok-bap can vary from five to 20 different grains to include legumes like kidney beans, black-eyed peas, soy beans, mung beans, split peas, etc., and even oats, amaranth, and sorghum. Rice is not indigenous to Korea and was very expensive when it first arrived. Hence, it was mixed with other grains to “stretch” the rice.

Don’t you just love how this frugal necessity can stealthily add vitamins, nutrients, fiber, and flavor to your diet?

I was talking to a Korean friend the other day and she told me that she makes her own rice “mix,” ensuring she adds plenty of whole grains like brown rice and millet to the combination. She says her three children love it!

Like any concerned parent, I want my son to eat–and enjoy–whole grains so I decided to try it out on him.

I went to the bulk section of my grocery store and picked out an assortment of grains for my custom-blend. I chose white jasmine rice (which my son already loves), brown rice, sweet brown rice, wild rice, red rice, pearl barley, steel cut oats, millet, and black rice.

I’ve been mixing and matching the grains and so far so good. My son gobbles it up without any fuss, not realizing he is now the poster boy for the USDA dietary guidelines!

Depending on your family’s tastes, feel free to use whatever grains you desire and mix them in any proportion. This is a great way to introduce your kids to brown rice and the very en vogue farro, buckwheat, and quinoa. Whole grains have a chewier texture and nuttier flavor that may not be as pleasing to them, so start off with less and use a greater proportion of the more palatable white rice or even orzo pasta. As time goes by, adjust the proportions. Keep experimenting until you find the right mix that your family loves.

Mixed-Grain Rice

mixed grain rice
Black rice turns the resulting mix lavender which I served with mochiko chicken

1/4 cup (or more) of any of the following grains and legumes (Culinate.com has a fabulous guide):

Brown rice
Sweet brown rice
White rice
Wild rice
Red rice
Pearl barley
Steel cut oats
Millet
Black rice
Farro
Buckwheat
Quinoa
Split peas
Garbanzo beans
Kidney beans
Mung beans
Sesame seeds

This is not really a recipe. Rather, it’s more a set of guidelines.

Mix all the grains in an airtight canister. Scoop out however much mixed-grain rice you’d like to cook. Wash and drain. If you have time, soak the grains for 30 minutes so they will cook faster. If not, just proceed to add the grains to your pot and add the required amount of water.

Since different grains require different amounts of water and varying lengths of time to cook, you’ll have to experiment to get mixed-grain rice done to your taste. I suggest starting with the ratio and time recommended for the longest cooking grain in your mix using your choice of method. For example, I cook my mixed-grain rice in the rice cooker with the 1:2 grain-to-water ratio recommend for brown rice. My appliance magically flips the switch when the rice is done.

However, you can cook the grains in a pressure cooker (30 minutes for brown rice) and on the stove top (45 minutes for brown rice) as well.

Or follow the guidelines here.

You may want to cook the grains in large quantities and freeze the leftovers in zip-top bags. Just microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on high to thaw. It tastes as good as freshly-cooked.

Use the mixed-grain rice to make rice salads, pilafs or just serve it with any dish you’d eat with white rice.

Kimchi-Style Corn

Pretty bi-colored corn

As much as I adore canned creamed corn, come summer, I love sinking my teeth into a fresh cob and gnawing off the sweet corn kernels bit by juicy bit. My other favorite way with sweet corn is to toss the niblets into a salad with chopped tomatoes and cucumbers brightened with herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Even though I’ve been eating corn since I was yea high, I realized I didn’t know much about it. So I did a little research and discovered some corn trivia and tips.

First, just-for-fun trivia:

  • An ear of corn always has an even number of rows, with an average ear having 800 kernels arranged in 16 rows.
  • Popcorn, sweet corn and field corn are three distinct varieties. Popcorn is, obviously, made into everyone’s favorite movie-going snack. Sugar-rich sweet corn is cultivated for human consumption, and field corn is cultivated for livestock feed and processed foods.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Orville Redenbacher didn’t invent popcorn (ha ha ha). Evidence of popcorn was found in archaeological remains in New Mexico dating back to 5,600 years ago.
  • Corn is a grass and cornstalks grow between 2 and 20 feet, with the average being 8 feet.
  • Heirloom corn varieties come in a rainbow array of colors, including blue, red, black, and green.

And some practical tips:

  • When buying corn, look for bright green husks that fit snugly around the ear of corn. You don’t have to strip the husks off the ears to check for freshness. Just squeeze down the length of the corn gently to feel for bald spots. If you can’t resist peeking, the kernels should be plump and in tight rows right to the tip.
  • Try and eat the corn as soon as possible after purchase but if you must store it, wrap in damp paper towels for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. The kernels become starchier and less sweet the longer the ears are stored. In fact, half the sugars can be converted to starch only 24 hours after sweet corn is picked!
  • For maximum freshness, husk the corn just before cooking.
  • Remove the silk (white hairy threads under the husk) by using a wet a paper towel and wipe down the corn.

Amazingly versatile in the kitchen, corn kernels can be stir-fried with tomatoes and onions, tossed into salads, added to salsa, turned into relish, and, a childhood favorite, churned into ice cream. Or simply grill, boil or roast the ears.

A few weeks ago, I came home from the market with six ears of corn without any inkling of what I wanted to do with them. After rummaging around in the fridge and pantry, I found some leftover garlic scapes and an unopened pouch of Hungarian paprika. I decided to improvise on the ingredients used to make kimchi for a corn side dish. Koreans turn just about any vegetable into banchan so why not corn?

The result is a refreshing summer side dish, crunchy and sweet with a touch of heat and just the right amount of garlicky. It’s lovely with grilled meats or mixed into a green salad.

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Kimchi-Style Sweet Corn

Unless you make kimchi often, it doesn’t make sense to buy the one-pound bags of Korean red pepper powder (gochu-garu) they sell at Asian markets, and some recipes call for both fine- and coarse-ground red pepper! Instead I used paprika powder, specifically one that my friend brought back from Hungary. In my opinion, the kimchi flavor was a close approximation to that made with Korean red pepper.

Time: 15 minutes, plus melding time
Makes: 6 to 8 servings as a side dish

4 fresh ears of corn, husked
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika powder
1 teaspoon sugar
6 garlic scapes, buds and flowers trimmed, remainder chopped, or 3 small cloves garlic, chopped
1 green onion, chopped

In a pot large enough to hold the corn plus water to cover the corn, bring cold water to a rolling boil over high heat. Don’t add salt as it toughens the corn.

Add the corn, cover and bring the water back to a rolling boil which will take 3 to 4 minutes. At this point the kernels will be crisp. If you like them a little softer, cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer but don’t overcook them.

Promptly drain the corn into a colander over the sink and plunge them into cold water to stop the cooking. Do not overcook them. Once cool enough to handle, stand the corn in a large bowl and scrape the kernels off each cob into a bowl using a small, sharp knife.

Add the salt, paprika, sugar, garlic scapes, and green onion. Mix well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours for the flavors to meld.

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This post is  part of #LetsLunch, our monthly Twitter-inspired food bloggers potluck. This month it’s farmers market-inspired dishes!  

Don’t forget to check out the Let’s Lunchers’ creations below (the list will be constantly updated). And if you’d like to join Let’s Lunch, go to Twitter and post a message with the hashtag #LetsLunch.

Annabelle‘s Mixed Berry Shortcakes at Glass of Fancy

Charissa‘s Curried Roasted Cheddar Cheese Cauliflower Soup, Gluten-Free at Zest Bakery

Cheryl‘s Summery Mexican Chicken Stew at A Tiger in the Kitchen 

Grace‘s Yellow Watermelon with Red Chile at HapaMama

Joe‘s Peach Jam with Lemon Basil at Joe Yonan

Juliana‘s Les Halles Market Tomato-Peach Salad at J Loh

Linda‘s Farmers’ Market Fruit Galette at Spicebox Travels

Linda‘s Zucchini or Cucumber Quick Pickles at Free Range Cookies

Lisa‘s Eveleigh Farmers’ Market (in Australia!) Winter Salad at Monday Morning Cooking Club

Lucy‘s Sweet Auburn Curb Market (in Atlanta!) Tomato Gravy at A Cook and Her Books

Nancie‘s Carrboro, N.C., Farmers’ Market Vegetable Plate “Nicoise” with Spoonbread atNancie McDermott

Patricia‘s Kim-Chi-Style Corn at The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook

Renee‘s Sweet and Sour Salad at My Kitchen and I

Summer Grilling with Korean-Style Beef Short Ribs (Kalbi)

English: Preparing grill for grilling, grill w...
Time to get grilling! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here in Seattle, we don’t expect summer–the most elusive of all seasons–to make a gracious appearance until after July 4th.

One week post-Independence Day, I am happy to report that the past few days have been gloriously sunny! The temps have rolled into the 70’s and 80’s, and we’re even starting to complain about the heat.

While true Seattleites have no qualms about being pelted by raindrops while guarding the grill, it’s always more pleasant when skies are blue and steaks aren’t sodden.

I know better than to take our gorgeous weather for granted so we have a few outdoor-centric activities planned for the next few days and that, of course, includes a barbecue.

Call me a snob but I’m not a burgers and hotdogs (bratwurst, yes, but I don‘t consider them one and the same) kinda gal. I prefer sate, pork chops and chicken wings, foods we always had at our family barbecues growing up. That being said, my husband usually insists on throwing some patties and buns on the grill, “just in case people don’t care for sate.” Seriously?

Sure, it involves more prepping and elbow grease—as chief marinator and head sate-skewerer, I should know—but if you gather family and friends, it makes for easy work and a fun evening of chattering and gossip. And who could argue that tender, deeply marinated chicken morsels–flame-licked and kaffir lime-spiked–dipped into peanut sauce isn’t heaven on a hot and sticky summer’s day, or at anytime, really?

Now that I have you salivating over chicken sate, I’m going to tell you about a relatively new addition to my grilling repertoire—kalbi or Korean-style beef short ribs (sorry!).

To be honest, I don’t eat much red meat but I’ll happily eat kalbi. For some reason, my taste buds don’t register kalbi as beef. Similarly, rare flank steak or oxtail don’t taste beefy to me either.

I’ve eaten kalbi at Korean restaurants, and every time I’ve marveled at the meat so tender it melted like butter in my mouth.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to wonder for very long.

I was enlightened when my friend and fellow food-writer extraordinaire Susan Kim shared her grandma’s kalbi recipe (and a few more) with me for “The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook.” The revelation was extraordinary, much like an initiation into a reverent circle of all-knowing Asian grandmas, which producing the cookbook was! It seems that every Korean grandmother has her own secret to tenderizing meat, ranging from soda (Coke or 7-up) to Asian pears, and in Sang Jung Choi’s case, kiwis. [Curious if kiwis are native to Korea? So was I, and as it turns out, they are.]

These methods and ingredients may seem unorthodox to the American cook but trust me, the results are impressive.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get grillin’!

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Korean Barbecued Beef Short Ribs (Kalbi)

From The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook; Photo credit: Lara Ferroni

All Korean grandmothers have their own little secrets for making and tenderizing kalbi. Soda, sugar, and Asian pears are all common tenderizing agents. Grandma Sang Jung Choi massages kiwis into Korean-style short ribs—beef ribs cut about ¼ inch thick across the bone (instead of between bones) with three bones per slice—they are often available in Asian markets. Your butcher may also have the similarly cut flanken-style or cross-cut beef chuck short ribs; just ask if the slices can be cut a little thinner. Kalbi is lovely with cabbage kimchi.

Time: 30 minutes plus marinating
Makes: 6 to 8 servings as part of a multicourse family-style meal

4 pounds Korean-style beef short ribs
2 kiwis, peeled and pureed in a blender
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated (1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Korean red pepper powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
20-ounce bottle lemon-lime soda
Vegetable oil for brushing

Using your hands, massage the short ribs with the kiwi purée. Sprinkle each piece evenly with sugar and let sit while you make the marinade.

In a medium bowl, mix together the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, sesame oil, honey, red pepper powder, pepper, and soda. Place the ribs in a single layer in a wide shallow pan and pour the marinade over, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator, turning occasionally, for at least 1 hour, or preferably 12 hours.

Prepare a medium charcoal fire (you can hold your hand over the rack for no more than 3 or 4 seconds) with the rack 4 to 6 inches from the coals, or preheat a gas grill to medium. While the grill is heating up, drain the ribs from the marinade. Reserve the marinade for basting, if desired.

Brush the grill rack with oil and grill the ribs in batches until they turn caramel brown and develop slightly charred edges, 6 to 8 minutes on each side. Baste with the reserved marinade during the first 10 minutes of grilling if you like.

Pat’s Notes: If you prefer, omit the soda and add more sugar or honey for a little extra sweetness.

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This post is  part of #LetsLunch, our monthly Twitter-inspired food bloggers potluck. This month it’s all about barbecue! 

Don’t forget to check out the Let’s Lunchers’ creations below (the list will be constantly updated). And if you’d like to join Let’s Lunch, go to Twitter and post a message with the hashtag #LetsLunch.

Aleana‘s Home-made Ketchup, Relish & Mustard (BBQ-Friendly Condiments) at Eat My Blog

Charissa‘s Grilled Pulled-Pork Pizza with Roasted Corn (Gluten-Free) at Zest Bakery

Emma‘s Miso-Glazed Grilled Veggies and Polenta at Dreaming of Pots and Pans

Grace‘s Working Mama’s Pork Tenderloin Bao at HapaMama

Jill‘s Steven Raichlen Ribs Interview at Eating My Words

Joe‘s Grilled Cabbage (and Smoky Cabbage and Udon Slaw) at Joe Yonan

Lisa‘s BBQ Salmon with Tahini Dressing and Fresh Herb Salad at Monday Morning Cooking Club

Lucy‘s Taj Ma Hog & Not-So-Secret BBQ Sauce at A Cook and Her Books

Nancie‘s Thai Grilled Chicken Wings with Sweet Hot Garlic Sauce at Nancie McDermott

Pat‘s Korean-Style Beef Shortribs (Kalbi) at The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook

Renee‘s Steamed Buns with BBQ Pork at My Kitchen And I

Savory Pancakes, However You Like It

IMG_3731 by you.

Whenever I dine at a Korean restaurant I never fail to order seafood pancake or haemul jeon, chunks of shrimp, squid and the odd bell pepper or green onion nestled in a tasty, savory cushion of a pancake. So when I received a copy of The Korean Table-From Barbecue to Bibimbap, 100 Easy-To-Prepare Recipes by Taekyung Chung and Debra Samuels (Tuttle Publishing, 20008) I was pleasantly surprised that it was so simple to make.

Korean pancakes can be filled with seafood, kimchi or vegetables like zucchini or green onions. It’s so versatile and an easy and delicious one-dish meal Korean mothers and grandmothers can make in minutes. I just scrounged around in my fridge and came up with my own version based on Chung’s recipe.

Korean Pancakes (Jeon)

Adapted from The Korean Table-From Barbecue to Bibimbap, 100 Easy-To-Prepare Recipes by Taekyung Chung and Debra Samuels (Tuttle Publishing, 2008)IMG_3720 by you.
In Chung’s recipe, rice flour adds texture for crispy edges while leaving the middle slightly chewy but even if you omit it, the pancakes will still be tasty. Aim for a consistency that’s between a crepe and American pancake batter. The batter should coat the back of a spoon and drip down in a thick stream. Ingredients like seafood or zucchini will introduce water into the batter so start with a little less water first before adding more to achieve desired consistency. I’ve never been good at flipping pancakes and omelets. If you’re like me, feel free to divide up the batter into smaller portions and make smaller pancakes.

Makes 2 large pancakes

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup rice flour
1 1/2 cups water
Half a small head of Chinese (napa) cabbage, cut into strips (about 2 to 3 cups)
1 small onion, cut into thin slices
1/4 pound bacon, cut into julienne strips
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup soy dipping sauce (recipe follows)

In a large mixing bowl, mix the all purpose and rice flours with water.

Blanch the cabbage in boiling water and squeeze dry in a cheesecloth. Fluff them up.  

Add the cabbage, onion and bacon into the batter and mix well.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat for 30 seconds. Pour half the batter evenly into the skillet and cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the pancake and press down on the pancake with a spatula to flatten it.

Cook until the pancake is golden brown and the edges are crisp. Turn and press the pancake 2 to 3 more times until the pancake is cooked through.

Transfer the pancake to a serving platter and keep warm in a low oven.

Repeat with remaining batter.

To serve, cut each pancake into bite-sized pieces and serve with soy-green onion dipping sauce.

Soy and Green Onion Dipping Sauce

This sauce keeps for 3 days in the refrigerator, up to 1 week at most, if you leave the green onions out.  Add them only when ready to serve. Serve extras with fresh greens or pan-fried tofu.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons Korean coarse pepper flakes
2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle
2 green onions, chopped

Whisk everything together in a bowl.

Bibimbap Starring Oyster Kimchi

For everyone who has been waiting with bated breath for the oyster kimchi recipe, here it is! Enjoy it alone or in bibimbap.

Korean Mixed Rice (Bibimbap)

This homestyle Korean dish literally means to stir (bibim) cooked rice (bap). There are two different ways to serve bibimbap. In restaurants, bibimbap is sometimes served in a dolsot or stone bowl heated over a burner so that a layer of crispy, burnt rice forms at the bottom. Yangja Im makes a simpler version topped with any vegetable panchan (side dishes) she may have on hand and eats it warm or at room temperature. You can use just about any meat or vegetable dish: everything from kimchi, namul (try Yangja’s hobak namul recipe), steamed vegetables, deep fried tofu, or even gyoza and japchae (cellophane noodles). It’s a great way to use up the leftovers and with the numerous combinations you’ll never make it the same way twice.

Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1 serving

1 1/2 cups cooked Japanese rice
1/4 cup kimchi
1/4 cup oyster kimchi
1/4 cup soybean sprout salad
1 fried egg cooked over easy
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Korean red pepper paste (kochujang), or to taste

Scoop rice into a big, wide bowl.

Arrange vegetables in neat piles on top of rice. Top with a fried egg and spoon sesame oil and red pepper paste over.

Mix well and enjoy!

Spicy Korean Oyster Salad (Kul Kimchi)

A kimchi is being invented as we speak. Yes, they are that prolific and every Korean cook has their own version. Jean Lee’s uses freshly-shucked oysters and romaine lettuce. You can buy oysters from your favorite fishmonger or in quart-sized jars at supermarkets. The romaine lettuce leaves may seem large, even after cutting, but they will wilt and shrink to about 4 to 5 inches. This dish will keep for about 2 to 3 days, depending on freshness of oysters. It should be refrigerated any time it’s not being immediately served.

Time: 20 minutes plus marinating time
Makes: 6 to 8 servings as a side dish

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup Korean chili pepper flakes
2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 5 to 6 cloves)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
2 heads romaine lettuce, halved lengthwise (for particularly large leaves, halve crosswise as well)
5 green onions, cut into thin rings
1/2 red pepper, cut into thin rings
3 cups freshly-shucked raw oysters, rinsed in salt water to remove any grit, and drained

In a large non-reactive bowl, combine brown sugar, chili pepper flakes, garlic, fish sauce, rice vinegar and mix well. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and mix to form a coarse paste.

Add lettuce, green onions, and red pepper to the chili mixture in the bowl and toss until leaves are well-coated. Add oysters and mix gently. Let kimchi sit for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

Just before serving, stir the kimchi. Serve with steamed short-grain (Japanese) rice and a main dish like kalbi or in bibimbap.

Pat’s notes:
If you don’t have a bowl big enough to contain all the ingredients, divide ingredients equally into two of your biggest bowls. As the lettuce shrinks, combine everything in one bowl and mix well to combine.

 

Tickle Me With Pickles

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I never thought I had it in me. I buy kimchi. I eat kimchi. But I never imagined I would one day make kimchi. Not only did I make kimchi, I made 2 different types of kimchi-this one with Chinese cabbage and another with oysters (recipe coming)!

If you’re a kimchi novice just like I was, I highly recommend trying this simple recipe courtesy of Yangja Im. All it takes is patience and a love of kimchi–yes, you have to want to eat it.

Korean Pickled Vegetables a.k.a. Kimchi

Sour-sweet and spicy with nutty overtones, kimchi is a delightful explosion of tastes and textures in the mouth. The methods of making are just as varied as the ingredients that go into them–Chinese cabbage is the most common. Kimchi isn’t all that difficult to make as Yangja Im’s recipe demonstrates. In fact, Yangja makes it almost every week. She calls it a “not so traditional” kimchi recipe but to non-connoisseurs (like me), it tastes pretty authentic. For those who are interested, she does tack on some optional ingredients to make it more traditional.

Time: 30 minutes, plus salting and fermenting time
Makes: 1 gallon of kimchi

1 (about 3 pounds) firm Chinese cabbage
3 Kirby cucumbers, or 2 lean Korean cucumbers, trimmed and quartered lengthwise (or cut into bite-sized pieces, if you prefer)
1 small (about 2 to 3 cups) Asian radish (daikon), peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces (1-inch cubes or similarly-sized half moons are fine)
2 tablespoons coarse sea or kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 one-inch knob fresh ginger, grated
1 green onion, white and green parts, cut into 1/2 inch lengths
2 long hot green or red peppers, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick rings
2 tablespoons Korean red pepper powder (koch’u karu)
1 tablespoon sugar

Optional ingredients:
1 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon Korean salted shrimp or fish sauce
2 tablespoons water

Wash the cabbage thoroughly and cut the stem out with a V-notch. Halve the cabbage lengthwise and then cut into 1- by 1 1/2-inch pieces.

In a 6-quart non-reactive bowl, combine the cabbage, cucumber, and radish and sprinkle evenly with salt. Let the salted vegetables sit for 3 hours and toss every half hour. The salt will draw out water from the vegetables and they will shrink.

Add the garlic, ginger, green onion, hot peppers, red pepper powder and sugar to the salted vegetables. Mix well with your hands (be sure to wear rubber gloves to avoid chili burn).

OR

In a blender, combine the ginger, green onion, hot peppers, red pepper powder, and sugar with optional ingredients (bell pepper, onion, salted shrimp, and water) and purée until it becomes a thick liquid. Add to the salted vegetables and mix well with your hands (be sure to wear rubber gloves to avoid chili burn).

Transfer pickled vegetables into a 1-gallon jar or divide among 4 one-quart jars, pressing down firmly to remove any air bubbles and so the vegetables are covered with as much juice as possible. Leave about 2 inches at the top to give vegetables room to breathe.

Wrap the mouth of the jar with plastic wrap before screwing on the lid to prevent odors. Let stand at room temperature overnight, then refrigerate for up to one week.

Serve well-chilled as a side dish or in Bi-bim-bap.

Pat’s notes:

Use non-reactive materials (glass, stainless steel or ceramic) for all cooking utensils, measuring spoons, bowls and containers. Don’t use plastic as it picks up color. To store, use sterilized wide mouth glass or ceramic jars with screw-top lids.