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June 7, 2010

Spicy Cucumber Salad, for one of those lazy summer day

I need to tell you before I start this post that this will be my last one. What! 
(I can see your eyes are wide open! or maybe not, maybe nobody cares...)
Well, I mean my last post until I come back from my trip.  :)

Yes, I am going away for my annual summer trip. This year I am going to Europe. I am taking my two wild munchkins to France, Belgium, Austria, and Germany.  I will enjoy the train rides, the scenery, the castles, the museums, the people, and of course, the food.

I have been so busy studying for this trip this past few weeks. I feel like if I have studied this much while I was in college in my youth(?), I could have gotten the scholarship! LOL.
Anyway I have done my homework and ready to hit the road with my two little ones without my piano man. Yes, just me and my 9 and 7 year olds. So, please pray for me that I can return in one piece, without going crazy....

Today's post is simple cucumber salad that is very popular among Koreans during summer time. I love this salad. It is spicy, slightly sweet, full of flavor, and most of all, it is a great side salad for dishes like Galbi or Bulgogi, or Dakguwi. 
I often serve this with grilled chicken in simple Asian marinade when I feel lazy that I don't want to slave myself in the kitchen in hot summer days.

This is a salad that you can put together within 10 minutes or less, seriously! No joking here!
So let's start. Set your timer to 10 minutes now!

Simple salad, simple ingredients.
English cucumber, vinegar, plum extract(mashil jeup), shallot, garlic, 
Korean red chili flakes(gochugaru), black (or yellow) sesame seeds.
And of course some salt and pepper, too.

Slice cucumber thinly, about 1/8" thick.
If you have to use those American version with thick, waxy skin, peel off some of the skin.
Korean cucumber is even better if you can find it.

Her name is shallot. She is just a gorgeous girl next door!

She only comes in petite size, just like me!
Yes, you are right.  I am short and stocky!  :(

Chop her into even smaller pieces. 
Done? Lovely!

Chop your Mr. Garlic finer than usual.
Because you will eat him raw!

In a shallow bowl combine cucumbers with chili flakes, sugar, garlic, shallot, sesame seeds.
Add couple pinches of salt and pepper.

Add plum extract(mashil jeup) if you have. 
If you don't, don't worry about it.
 No big deal.
...but it is good to have one though :)

Add vinegar

and mix them well with your hands.
You can toss with spoons, but "real Koreans" use hands when tossing vegetables.
It helps the flavor to soak in cucumber.

Gotta taste one slice to check for seasoning!
You might need more salt.
You can chill for 30 minutes before you serve. 

Done! Has it been 10 minutes yet?

Cool, crunch, spicy, and full of flavor!
That's how you fight the hot summer days.
I am going to miss this kind of spicy food a lot this summer! :(

Well, well, well...
My dear friends and fellows,
Hope all of you have so much fun this summer, 

I will deliver your happy regards to Mrs. Mona Lisa in France,
...if I meet her in the Louvre...

Have fresh waffles for snack in Belgium,
...I will think of you when I eat...

And pay my tribute to the Trapp family in Austria,
...for their beautiful sound of music...

And, oh! 
Did I tell you that I will be staying at one of those fairy castles in Germany?
Waiting for my prince charming to pick me up on his white horse...
Well, just for a few hours though, you know...

Eat more food(good food) and be merry,
And I shall be back in August.
By then, 
Live long and prosper!

(안녕, Goodbye!)

Spicy Cucumber Salad
(Oi muchim, 오이무침)
serves 4 as side dish

1 English cucumber
1 shallot chopped
1 small garlic clove chopped
1-1 1/2T Korean chili flakes(gochugaru)
2t white vinegar
1 1/2t sugar
2t plum extract(optional)
1t sesame seeds, black or yellow
Couple of pinches of salt 
Dashes of pepper to taste

Slice the cucumber thinly, about 1/8" thick. Place them in a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, and mix well with hands until the cucumber slices gets incorporated with the dressing, about 30 seconds.
Taste one piece of cucumber to see if it is sell seasoned. You might need to add more salt.
Adjust seasoning for you liking.

You can chill this salad in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.
If you let it sit too long the moisture in the cucumber will be extracted and the salad becomes too watery.

Note: This salad will compliment nicely to Korean grilled meat such as Galbi, Bulgogi, or any Chicken dishes.

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June 2, 2010

Thai Red Chicken Curry, Sawadtee Kaa!

Sawadtee Kaa!
As much as I love Korean food I love Thai food, too. I have been to Thailand many times over the years and I always enjoyed their cuisines. I love their beautiful tropical beaches, temples, people, and their smiles. It is sad to see their political turmoils which is on going in Thailand these days.
But sometimes these turmoil is unavoidable in order to obtain the democracy and the reformation the country needs. I just hope that it won't cost too much of its people's lives.

Going back to the Thai food, I want to make red chicken curry that is so easy to make and quick to put together. Perfect for weeknight's meal and it is not that spicy either.
Shall we start?

These are what I had in my kitchen to create the curry.
Red curry paste, coconut milk, fried tofu, chicken breast, tomato, egg plant, 
garlic, shallots, ginger(or galangal), lemongrass, and cilantro.

You will also need, fish sauce, chicken stock, Kaffir lime leaves, and brown sugar.

Chop garlic and shallots together. Set aside.
Just chop as fine as you want depends on your mood.

Slice egg plants and tomatoes into wedges.
Whatever size you like...

Cut off a little bit of head and bottom end parts from the lemongrass.
Say "Adios!" to those end parts.

Smack the lemongrass, baby!
This will help release nice fragrance from the lemongrass.

Slice some ginger. (galangal is even better if you have)
-I love the sound of ga-lan-gal, ga-lan-gal-
Slice the fried tofu into whatever size you like, too.
Today is whatever day!

Dice chicken breast into YOUR bite size, not mine!

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in the pot over medium high heat.
Saute chicken pieces until cooked. Remove from pot.

Add lemongrass and garlic shallot mixture to the pot and saute them for 10 seconds.

Mix red curry paste with 2tsp water.

Add curry paste to the pot and add more oil if the pot seems too dry.
Keep stirring for 30 seconds.

Add chicken stock to the pot

and continue to stir.

Add tofu slices,

chicken pieces,

ginger pieces, kaffir lime leaves,

and tomato slices.

In a bowl mix coconut milk with some water to thin out a little.

Add milk to the pot.

Stir them well.

Add eggplants

brown sugar,

and fish sauce. Stir and

cover with lid. Cook for 5 more minutes, adjusting the heat.

When done, taste to see if you need more seasoning. 
Adjust amount of fish sauce for your liking.

That's all folks!
This is slightly thick curry.
If you want thinner, add more chicken stock.
Sprinkle some chopped cilantro on top when you serve.

I enjoyed my not-so-hard-to-make-curry with rice today.
Sometimes a simple meal like this makes you happier than a 5* gourmet.
And this fits the bill in my pocket. 
How perfect?

(Thank you!)

Thai Red Chicken Curry
(Gaeng Khiao Wan Gai)
 serves 2

1 chicken breast half, diced into bite size
2T oil, divided
2 garlic chopped
1 shallot chopped
1 lemongrass, end parts removed and smashed to release fragrance
 2T red curry paste mixed in 2t water
3T chicken stock
A handful fried tofu cut in half
3 Kaffir lime leaves
1" ginger piece, peeled and sliced 
1 tomato sliced into wedges
200g (7oz) coconut milk mixed in 1/2C water
1 Asian eggplant, sliced into desired size
1t brown sugar
1t fish sauce
Some chopped cilantro to garnish

1 Heat 1T oil in the sauce pot over medium high heat until hot. Add chicken pieces and saute until done. Remove from pot and set aside.

2 Add garlic, shallot, lemongrass into the pot and saute until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
Add curry paste and another 1T oil, fry for 30 seconds. Add chicken stock and mix well.

3 Add tofu, chicken, ginger, kaffir lime leaves, tomato slices, and stir them well. Pour coconut milk into the pot and add eggplants. Season with brown sugar and fish sauce. Cover the lid and cook for 5 minutes adjusting heat. When done, taste the curry to see if you need more fish sauce. Adjust the amount of fish sauce for your liking.
Serve hot with rice and some chopped cilantro sprinkled on top

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