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November 29, 2010

Bulgogi Hotpot, your satisfaction

So, I got a plastic surgery over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  I mean not on my face but on my blog.  :-)
Nip here and tuck there, the appearance has dramatically changed but the inner spirit remains the same.
Excited to celebrate a new day in blogging, this is the recipe I chose.

Are you tired of leftover Thanksgiving turkey? 
Craving for four legged animal again instead of bird?
But want something easy and comforting, like a bowl of soup, in these cold weather outside?
Then call this # @1-800-ABC-DEFG  Your satisfaction is guaranteed or blah, blah, blah,...

I should have advertised this recipe on TV.
This world is full of satisfaction guaranteed ads. Some works and some don't.
Recipes are sometimes like that too.  Some works, some don't.

Today's recipe is Bulgogi hot pot (불고기 전골, Bulgogi Jeongol). My satisfaction guarantee offer...
Usually prepared in a large shallow pot placed in the middle of the table with portable burner to cook with. It is best to share with many people as it is cooking right on the table but you can enjoy small portion just for you, or you and your significant others.

Important tip!
Most important thing in making any Korean hotpot is using a good stock. I have seen some people using plain water to this dish. Why rinse out the flavor of Bulgogi with water? Please don't. If you use water, my satisfaction guarantee is VOID!
The earth provides bounty of flavor packed creatures. Use them! You will be amazed how all these flavors balance each other.
If you need a recipe for Bulgogi, click here.

For the stock;
Dried anchovies, dried mushrooms, dried sea kelp, dried dates, and black peppercorn.
 Of course I forgot another ingredient in the photo.
Add rooted tips of green onion.

 Here they are.
Combine with water, boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Let it sit for 20 minutes, covered, so that all the flavor will ooze out.

 Grab some Dangmeon, Korean sweet potato noodles, aka, Japchae noodles.

Soak them in the boiling hot water for 10 minutes.
They will relax and soften their attitudes.

 While waiting, prepare vegetable of your choice.
I happened to have spinach, oyster mushroom, onion, and red chili in my fridge.
 Cabbage, zucchini, bokchoy, and tofu are good choices as well.

 Hmmm..., The stock looks fabulous after 20 minutes.

 Strain the stock but reserve the mushrooms and the dates.
Sayonara to anchovies and kelp...
Oh, don't forget to season the stock with soy sauce and rice wine.

 Slice the mushroom.
Dates are for garnish later.

 Place drained noodles on the heavy bottom pan.

 Arrange vegetables and the marinaded Bulgogi the way you like.

 Pour the gorgeous stock over, about half way in the pot.

 Let it boil.
Taste the broth to see if it is seasoned right.
You can add more soy sauce or salt.

Boil until the beef is just cooked.
You can spread the meat around to cook evenly.
Do not overcook. This is not a stew.

Taste the soup.
You will be amazed how Bulgogi marinade and
the stock mingle the flavor each other.

So sorry! I ate the whole pot without sharing with you.
But I can tell you that,
I was satisfied.
Very, very satisfied...


Bulgogi Hotpot 
(불고기 전골,  Bulgogi Jeongol )
makes 2 servings or 1 hungry serving

For the stock
5-7 dried anchovies
3-4 dried shitaki mushrooms
2-3 dried sea kelp slices
3-4 dried dates
4-5 white parts of green onion including the roots
2 tsp black peppercorn
4 cup water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine

For the hotpot
1/2 lb (220g) Bulgogi marinaded
1/4 lb (150g) Dangmyeon
handful spinach cleaned
handful mushroom of your choice cleaned and sliced,
1/2 onion sliced
salt and pepper to taste
some green onion and red chili for garnish

For the stock, in a medium sauce pan combine all the ingredients EXCEPT soy sauce and rice wine.
Bring to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes covered. turn off the heat and let it sit for 20 minutes so the flavors will get intensified. 
Strain the stock through a mesh, reserve the mushrooms and dates, but discard the other fillings.
Slice the mushrooms and the dates, set aside.

Meanwhile fill the large mixing bowl with water and let it boil in the microwave. Add the Dangmyeon noodles into the bowl and soak them for 10 minutes. They will get soften and flexible. Drain and set aside
In a 2 qt heavy bottom pot or Korean stone pot, place the noodles on the bottom of the pot. Add the spinach, onion, mushrooms over the noodles. Place the marinaded Bulgogi in the middle. 
Pour the reserved stock over them until the stock will reach to just to cover the vegetables, about half way in the pot.

Bring them to boil spreading the meat around to cook evenly. taste the broth to see if you need to adjust seasoning. You will need some more salt and pepper. Only cook until the beef is just cook through, about 2 minutes.

Add the reserved dates on top with some red chili and green onion for garnish.
Serve immediately. All you need is some Kimchee on the side. Enjoy!

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November 19, 2010

Bulgogi, the eternal Korean beef


Yes, I know what you're thinking, another Korean beef recipe...
I bet you can find hundreds of Bulgogi recipes on the web.  Many food bloggers have been posted their versions of this glorious Korean cow dish.  
So why am I posting this? Because, I am bored out of my mind...  Just kidding.
Well, I am a Korean food blogger, and I gotta have Korean beef recipe at some point to be eligible for that. Just like every housewives in Korea having their ways of making it,  I have my version too, adapted from my own mother's recipe.
What makes mine different?

 As you see, mine has some juice in the dish. That is what authentic Bulgogi should be. It is supposed to be wet unlike Galbi.
Drizzle those flavorful Bulgogi juice on the rice, it will melt down your soul and makes you fall in love with the person across your table. ♥ ♥ ♥
I also prefer not to mix any vegetable with beef in the marinade. I prepare vegetables separately and use as topping.  Better taste, better presentation, and you get the credit.
Here is how I make my Bulgogi.

 Let's look at the ingredients.
Asian pear, sugar, soy sauce, mirin (or rice wine), sesame oil, sesame seeds, black pepper, 
onion, garlic, anchovies, sea kelp, and or course, the cow meat.

 This is beef rib eye. Previously frozen.
You can buy this thinly sliced (1/8") package any Korean groceries.
I let it to defrost in the fridge overnight.
If you don't have access to the Korean store, 
either slice yourself or ask your butcher to slice as thin as his humanness possible.

Now Beyond Kimchee's special techniques are just about to reveal...
#1:  Place a paper towel on the cutting board,
and layer the beef slices on top just like that.

 Repeat until all the slices are covered with paper towels.
Let it sit like that for 10 minutes.
What in the world am I doing?
You shall see...

 I am sucking some blood out.
Did I ever mention that I used to be a vampire, a dream?
 This step will get rid of unpleasant odor in the meat improving the flavor.
You can skip this if you don't care about what I just said.

 #2: Cut up pear and onion, and put them in a blender.
I just love my mini blender that I recently bought.
My new toy in the kitchen, ho ho ho...
Doesn't the green color looks like 70th retro?
Reminds me of a pair of bell bottom pants I used to wear as a child.

 Let your blender do his duty.

 I don't drink coffee but I buy coffee filters.
Pour your pear onion puree in the filter and drain the clear juice part, discard the other.
Filtering will help create more savoring touch to your meat juice later on.

 Pour the reserved pure pear onion juice over the meat in the mixing bowl.

 Mix well.
Give some massage to your meat, singing some lullaby...
Because they need to relax.
♪♪... ♪♪

 Let it marinade for 30 minutes in the fridge.
This will help break down the fibers in their macho muscles.

#3:  Meanwhile make my royal highness stock.
Some dried anchovies and sea kelp with water,
boil and simmer until you suck the life out of them.

 You will only need about 1/2C of the stock.
Adding the sea flavor to cow meat is like when Harry met Sally version of love story.
Was the movie happy ending?

 Now mix all the ordinary Bulgogi marinade ingredients in a bowl.
The stock, finely minced garlic, soy sauce, sugar, rice wine... etc

 Pour over the meat and massage them again.
This time sing some Bohemian chant...
followed by a prayer.

 I keep them in a jelly roll pan in a single layer.
It helps the meat marinate evenly so you don't have to turn the meat later.
You don't have to follow on this but if you have the pan, why not?

 Cover the pan and chill the meat for overnight.
If you don't have the luxury of overnight magic,
give them at least 4 hours, would ya?

 When everyone is ready to eat, set your dinner or lunch table.
Heat up your skillet over medium-high heat. Hot!
No Need Oil, please!
It cooks in its own juice.
Bulgogi should not cook with any oil except the sesame oil in the marinade, 

Add the meat to the hot skillet.
Stir them gently to cook evenly.
It cooks in no time since the slices are very thin.
1-2 minutes, seriously!
Overcooking will make your meat dry and tough.

You can eat the way it is with some rice 
Serve with some sauteed onions and mushrooms on top
if the presentation is important.

 Just saute onion in a little bit of oil, season with some salt.

For the mushroom, I used oyster mushroom but you can use any.
I sauteed with some garlic, Korean soy sauce and pepper until they get soft.
Throw some chopped green onions for color.

Serve your Bulgogi warm.
Don't forget to drizzle its juice on your rice.
So flavorful and comforting.

Some might think what are all the fusses about extra steps.
The other some wouldn't mind to go extra miles to reach the 100% perfection
where everything in the world is 90% perfect.
If you are the person seeking that missing 10%
I humbly ask you try this.
You will get 98%

Uh, where is the missing 2%?
I will leave it on your imagination.

So until you find the answer,
Be eternal, my Korean beef...

(불고기, Korean beef)
makes 4 servings

2 lb (900g) beef rib eye thinly sliced, about 1/8"thick
1/2 Asian pear cut up
1/2 onion cut up
4-5 dried anchovies
2 dried sea kelp
1 Cup water

soy sauce marinade
7 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
3-4 Tbsp sugar
3 cloves garlic finely minced
2 Tbsp mirin or rice wine
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp black pepper freshly ground

Place a sheet of paper towel on the cutting board and layer beef slices (in a single layer) without overlapping. Put another paper towel on top and repeat the layering. Cover the top with towel. Let them sit for 10 minutes so the paper towel will absorb some blood.

Puree pear and onion in the blender. Filter the puree in the coffee filter to get the clear juice, discard the fibers. Remove the paper from the beef and place the beef in a mixing bowl. Pour the pear onion juice over and mix well with your hand. Let it sit for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Meanwhile make anchovy stock by combining anchovy, sea kelp, and water in a small sauce pan. Boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and cool for 20 minutes. Discard the anchovies and sea kelp, reserve 1/2 cup of stock.

Make the soy sauce marinade by combining all the ingredients.
Pour stock and soy sauce mixture to the beef and mix everything thoroughly by hand.
Let the meat marinade in the fridge overnight or at least 4 hrs. When ready heat skillet over medium-high heat until it gets nicely hot. Do not add any oil. Place beef and spread to cover the skillet. It will sizzle. Gently stir the meat to cook. You only need to cook for 1 or 2 minutes since the slices are very thin. 

Remember! overcooking will make your meat tough.You will see the meat releasing its juice while cooking.  Serve your Bulgogi with its juice over rice immediately. Enjoy!

Optional: Saute some onions and mushrooms with a little bit of oil, season with salt and pepper, and use as topping over meat.

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November 15, 2010

Pan Fried Tofu, Korean tofu 101


I love tofu. They are just so good for you. They are, what we call, vegetable beef! Coming from soy beans, full of protein and calcium, sometimes I can understand why God created soy beans. Before the time when the East met West, far eastern Asians like Koreans hardly had dairy as a part of their diet. Tofu and the soy milk were the major source of calcium until the western dairy, the cow's milk, cheese, etc were introduced much later time.  

Eating tofu is better than eating soy beans though. The nutrition in soy beans can be absorbed into our body only 65% where tofu (the processed form of soy beans) delivers 95%. During the curdling process tofu keeps all the nutrition of soy beans except some vitamins.

Tofu was originated from China, about 2200 years ago in Han dynasty and was introduced in Korea around  700AD. We call them "Dubu (두부)". Koreans enjoy tofu in many different ways, in soups and stews, braise with other ingredients, mashed into make savory cakes, or simply pan fry them.

I know there are some people who are afraid of tofu due to its non-flavored mushy texture. I don't blame them because I wouldn't want to eat raw tofu either. So I would like to introduce a simple way of cooking this mushy-non flavored soy bean creature into more chewy-flavorful delicacy.

Perhaps this is, by far, the simplest Korean tofu dish you will make, level 101! But you gotta learn the technical side of it. As always I am here for you, so let the class begin!

 You must use FIRM tofu, preferably Korean.
For the sauce;
soy sauce, Korean chili flakes, sesame seeds, sesame oil, garlic, green onion, and shrimp powder.
Shrimp powder is optional but will add very nice flavor to the sauce. 
I use quite often to my recipes.
If you don't want you can omit it. But my sauce will taste better than yours, ha ha!
Click here to learn how to make shrimp powder.

 Rinse tofu first right out of package.
Place on top of paper towel (2 layers) over cutting board.
Cut the tofu in half and slice each half into 8 pieces.
That makes total 16 slices, right?

Are you still counting to 16?

 Sprinkle a little bit of salt on top of tofu. 
Salt helps the tofu to firm up on the surface and season them as well.
Just a little bit, please.
Let them sit for 5 minutes.

 Heat your pan with mild oil such as grapeseed or canola over medim heat.
Use non-stick surface pan. I use my well seasoned carbon steel pan.
It creates beautiful crust on tofu.

 Press tofu with paper towel to absorb more moisture before you add to the hot pan.

 Sear the tofu for about 5 minutes. Don't bother them.
Let the oil and the heat do their job getting to know the tofu.
I like my tofu to be somewhat chewy. 
If you want softer texture 2-3 minutes is enough.

 After 5 minutes you will see the golden crust is forming on the bottom.
It is basically caramelizing.
Make sure you pan is not extremely hot, otherwise it will burn.
Adjust heat level. Medium heat was just right for my stove.

Flip the tofu slices to the other side carefully.
Do you see the golden crusts?
Let  the other side sear for another 5 minutes or so as well.
 While waiting, make the sauce with given ingredients.
Just mix them well.

You will see that they've got shrunk a little bit.
They have lost some of their moisture.
They worked hard to please you, you know...

Place them nicely on the serving platter and drizzle with the sauce.
Serve when they are warm with some rice.

Tofu is a great way to replace meat if you want to cut down the animal protein.
Low in calories and fat (except the oil to cook with),
 tons with calcium and iron.

If the ancient Europeans (or nomadic central Asians) has discovered cheese 
ancient Chinese created tofu.
This might sounds silly to some people,
I can feel the love of Creator of the earth
for allowing his wisdom to men,
to turn one of his creation into another.
It is miracle food to most Asians.
So enjoy with a gratitude...

Pan Fried Tofu
(두부부침, Dubu buchim)
makes 2-4 servings

1 package (18 oz, 510g) firm tofu, drained and rinsed
couple pinch salt
2 Tbsp grape seed oil or canola oil
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp Korean chili flakes
1 green onion finely chopped
1 garlic finely minced
1/2 tsp shrimp powder, optional
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds

Place tofu on top of two layers of paper towels over the cutting board. Cut the tofu in half and slice each half into 8 equal slices. This will make total 16 slices, about 3/8" thick each.
Spread each slices on the paper towel and sprinkle with a little bit of salt. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Heat your non-stick surface pan over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp of oil first.
Press each tofu slices with dry paper towel to remove some moisture and add to the hot pan. Let them sear for 5 minutes until the bottom of the tofu creates golden crust. Flip to the other side, add 1 more Tbsp oil if your pan seems dry. Continue to sear the tofu for another 5 minutes or so until they are done to your liking. 

You can adjust the time for your preference. 5 minutes on each side will create chewy texture. If you prefer softer texture 2-3 minutes should be enough.
To make the sauce, mix soy sauce, chili flakes, green onion, garlic, shrimp powder (optional), sesame oil and sesame seeds in a small mixing bowl. Place tofu slices on the serving platter and drizzle the sauce over. Serve warm with some rice.

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