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May 28, 2010

Broiled Yellow Croaker, worry about the fish smell?

"Mommy, why is this fish's mouth is so wide open?" That was the question of my son, the toothless, asked when he saw these broiled fish on the dinner table. "Well, because he is screaming to tell me that the oven was too hot for him" That was the answer I could come up with. LOL! :D

I literally grow up eating fish pretty much on the daily bases. My parents loved fish, or anything that grows under the water. It has to be fresh, mostly alive when they buy them. 

The other day I went to the local wet market in Wan Chai to look for fresh fish. They call it "wet" because the ground in the market is wet. Make sense! 

I like to go there often to see local people's way of living. There is something about market that teaches you the importance of life, the energy, and the diligence. People sell, people buy..., beautiful produce..., hard working locals to get by their daily needs.  Things that you don't feel the same way from the big grocery stores where everything is nicely prepacked and displayed.

I took my camera with me last time to see the local produce through the lense.
Here are some I would like to share with you...

This is the local tram stop at Wan Chai market.

This is the tram.
It only cost HKD$2 (25 cents US) to use it. 

One of the market entrance.

 one of the many fish stands.

 A man cleaning fish for his customers.

The life of fish!

Well ripened papaya

 The dragon fruit. 
Looks gorgeous outside but not so sweet inside...
Not a big fan of these fruits.

one of my favorite tropical fruit.
White flesh inside, very sweet and juicy.

 Jackfruit, Durian
Not a big fan, either.

Sponge gourd.

The kindest lady I know in the Wan Chai market.
although I don't speak Chinese, and she doesn't speak English well either,
she always greets me with smile and gives me a bunch of green onion for free
even if I buy just a single zucchini.

That is ox tail!
and the lady on the right bought it.
I wonder if the butcher removes all the hair out of that tail...
Kinda gross to me....

The yellow croaker, the star of today's posting!
One of my favorite fish and my kids just love them.

Now, we will end the tour of the market here. More comes later!
I will share with you how you can enjoy these yellow croaker in a simple broil method.
Pull your sleeves and let's get to work on this fish!

Some people hesitate cooking fish because of the smell.
Yes, if you don't treat the fish well, it will smell up your kitchen pretty bad.
Always look for fresh fish.  That is the first step.

Here are some tips how to choose fresh fish.

1. Look at their eyes. Bright and clear is the one you need to look for.
2. Smell it. Fresh fish is not stinky. It should smell like clean water.
3. Shiny? Yes. Dull? No
4. Look for bright red gills. Old fish will have darker brownish gills.

So you got the fish, the whole fish?
You would think your fish man cleaned all the scales and get rid of inside stuff?
Well, unless he has a crush on you, the chances are NO!
Scales are the one causing the most smell when cooking,
and you need to remove as much as you can.

The fish guys usually remove the body part's scales very well but not around the head.
So, shave his head, please!
Say hello darling!

Remove more scales around the fins as well.

Wash them good.

Cut off the fins.
They are the ones get erected in the heat and get burned fast.
Besides who eats the fin?
(except the shark's fin...)

Trim off these fins as well,

and more...

Well, these guys are all shaved and trimmed, slick!
Get some coarse salt.

Sprinkle salt inside and


Cover with plastic wrap.

Here is what you need to decide.
I would like to eat this fish for dinner that night so I let them chill for about 6 hrs until ready.
The amount of the salt in the recipe is based on that time.
If you don't have much time, increase the amount of salt.

Also, you can freeze these guys for later use. 
Just wrap them individually and put them in zip lock bag, 
keep them in freezer up to couple of month.
How to thaw?
You can use microwave but I prefer this way.
Dunk the entire zip lock bag in the cold water for 20 minutes.
They are as fresh as before!

Ready to broil?

First, Wash the fishes again to remove excess salt. Set aside.
I will show you my secret of broiling fish without the worry of smell during cooking.

These are the peels of fruits, and veges.
Oranges, limes, lemons, apples, pears, onions, ginger, herbs,
any roots or leaves of veges such as celery, you name it.
Even watermelons or cantaloupes peels are good to use.

Do not throw away those peels. Recycle, baby!
Put them in a big zip lock bag and keep them in the freezer.
They are the fish smell busters!

Not only that, they infuse the fish with nice aroma, and keep them moist and flaky.
I even use them when roasting chicken. Wonderful!

Line a jellyroll pan with foil and spread the peels. Easy clean up!
You need a lot to cover the entire pan.
Place a rack on top of the peels.
Remember to spray the rack with oil spray, otherwise your fish will stick on.

Now, go back to the fishes and give them a few slits on both sides.
This will help the steam to escape and help even cooking.

Place the fish on top of rack and sprinkle just a little more salt on top if you like.
If your fish has been cured with salt for a long time you don't need to add more salt.

Pour about 1/4C of water in the pan. This will prevent the peels from burning.

Put them in preheated hot oven with broil setting, about 3 inch below the heat.
Broil for 8-10 minutes each side. 
Always check during that time to make sure they are not burning.

You might smell just a tiny bit when you open the oven to flip the fish to the other side.
But it should be gone by the time when fish is all done.
You will be amazed that you don't smell the fish at all.

Here is the perfectly broiled fish.
If you broil these guys without the peels,
you will be pinching your nose by now,
and the air in the room will be filled with fish smell for a few days. Yikes!

But how about the cutting board, knife, or your hands that cleaned these fishes?
Yes, They will get smelly. 
What do you do?

(So lucky to have extra hands here!)
After you clean them with soap,
You can use vinegar or lemon juice.
But I use sugar, white or brown, and rub them.
I don't know how, but somehow it works.
Your hands will feel so smooth, too.
Try it!

I usually serve this fish with Korean soy sauce (gook ganjang).
A tiny bit of dipping is all you need.
Tastes awesome that way!

Fish A : "Dude! that oven was so hot."
                     Fish B : "What did you expect? An air conditioner?"

Broiled Yellow Croaker
(Jogi guwi, 조기구이)
serves 2-4

2 whole yellow Croaker, scaled and cleaned
1/4C coarse salt
Bunch of frozen fruit and vegetable peels (orange, lemon, lime, onion, celery, ginger, etc)
1/4C water
Oil spray
Korean soy sauce for dipping, optional

1  Remove all the scales on the fish including body, around head, behind fins.
Wash them well. Trim off all the fins and sprinkle salt inside and outside of fishes.
Place on the plate and cover with plastic wrap. Let it chill for 6 hours or overnight.

When ready, preheat your oven on broil setting. The rack should be about 3 inch from the heat.
Wash the fish again to remove excess salt. Set aside.

Line a jellyroll pan with foil and spread the frozen fruit and vegetable peels all around. Spray a broil rack or mesh with oil spray and place on top of the peels.

Give a few slits on both side of fish with a knife and place the fish on top of the pan.
Place the pan in the hot oven with broil setting. Broil for 8-10 minutes each sides. Carefully flip in between.
Serve with Korean soy sauce if you wish. Dip bite size fish just a little bit in the sauce.

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May 24, 2010

Pan Fried Potatoes, how to save a lonely potato


 Have you ever felt that you are mostly unnoticed among multitude?
You feel like there's nothing special about you that makes you stand out.
You just don't have that talent, the look, the charisma, or whatever
that Mr/Mrs Perfect has...
Or you do have something but no one seems to be interested in?
So, you feel down..., discouraged?
Well, think again!
Each of us has amazing potential to become someone whom we are dreaming of...
And sometimes...
the ugliest duckling can turn into the prettiest swan just like a fairy tale.

Here is the story of one lonely potato...

 I had this one potato sitting lonely on my counter for a few days. 
No one in my house noticed he was there. He just looks plain old boring.
There is nothing flash about him based on his look.
If I did not know what potatoes could become, 
I would probably have him thrown away.
But I believed that this ugly duckling has a tremendous potential to become something great,
...with a little bit of his self recognizance and TLC from his master.

So, this is a show I made for him and I am inviting you to join us.
Camera?.... Action!

First, remove his cloth. Yeah, I want him to be total naked!
If you are too shy to see him naked, keep his clothe on.
You need to slice him thinly first and cut into 1/8" thick sticks.

Give him a shower first to clean his body.
Put him in a bowl and let him soak for 2 minutes.
So they don't stick to each other later on by removing some of the starch.

Drain him well.

Chop up one garlic. She will be his fragrance.

Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a non stick pan over medium heat.
Add garlic and stir for 5 seconds.

Dump the potatoes and stir-fry to coat garlic all around him.

Cover the lid and cook for 1- 2 minutes.

Add salt. Taste him to see if he is tender and well seasoned. 
I use kosher salt.
Cook for 1-2 more minute without the lid this time, 
stirring gently occasionally. Check again.
If he is not done, cook for 1-2 more minutes on and off with lid.
Adjust amount of salt as you like.

When he is all nice and tender the way you like, 
sprinkle some sesame seeds and pepper on him.
Stir gently. At this stage he is fragile.
That's all.
A simple makeover and he looks fabulous!
He will be a great side dish to any meal.

Mr. Potato found his true identity and he is off to Broadway.
If you still think the potato is boring, think again. 
In the eyes of his master he is worth millions$$$
and YOU are, too!
The End.

Pan Fried Potatoes
(Gamja Bokkeum, 감자볶음)
serves 2 as side dish

One large baking potato such as Russet potato
 1T grape seed oil or canola oil
1 small garlic chopped
dashes of kosher or sea salt 
dashes of pepper
1t roasted sesame seeds

1 Peel off the skin from the potato. You can keep the skin on if you like. Rub the skin with brush to clean. Slice the potato in to 1/8" thick and cut into 1/8" sticks.

2 Rinse the potatoes in the water and soak them in a bowl filled with water for 2 minutes to remove some starches. Drain the potatoes and set a side.

3 Heat oil in a non stick pan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir it for 5 seconds. Add potatoes and stir them well to coat with garlic. Cover with lid and cook for 2 minutes.

4 Season with salt and cook 1-2 more minute without the lid.  Taste the potatoes if they are soft. If not, continue to cook for 1-2 minutes with the lid on and off.
When potatoes are tender with a little body, sprinkle some sesame seeds and pepper. Toss gently

5 Serve warm or on room temperature.

Printable recipe

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May 20, 2010

Juipo(쥐포), here comes the Korean fish jerky

Get away beef jerky, here comes the fish jerky! Ta-da!
Sorry to beef jerky lovers! I don't mean to be rude but you need to try this fish jerky if you like fish.

 I love Korean fish jerky (Juipo 쥐포). These salty, sweet, chewy jerky were always big hit in every Korean kid's lunch box (Doshirak, 도시락) as I was growing up.

When my piano man was eating his PB&J sandwich for his lunch at Denver, Colorado in the 80th I had my fish jerky with rice lunch in my hometown of Tong Young, Korea. Isn't it funny that we all grew up with different food and culture but end up living together as a family somehow? Life is full of mystery...

Our Doshirak(lunch box) in the late 70th through 80th was very simple. Mostly made with aluminum material, comes in oval or rectangular in shape, 2/3 of the space was filled with rice and the 1/3 was for Banchan(side dihses). The most common Banchan was egg roll, sherreded cuttlefish(Ojinguh) in spicy sauce, mini patties made with chicken or beef, and this fish jerky(Juipo). Lunch time was our happy hour at school. We didn't have cafeteria or any vending machine to buy food/snack at school those days.

As soon as the lunch bell rings we all take out our doshirak from our bag and put on our desk. Usually 4-6 kids got together and shared lunch on the same desk, which means we shared our doshirak to taste each one's Banchan. It was so much fun to share and got connected with each other through food.  I often got lots of compliments from my friends how my Banchan tasted so good. My mother was an excellent cook and I am so glad that I learned many skills from her.

I would like to show you how I make Korean fish jerky in spicy sauce.
Juipo is made from the seasoned, dried, and then pressed file fish called Juichi(쥐치).

 Here is the picture of the Juipo, the fish jerky of Korea.
Usually they come in a pack of 10.

I can find the dinosaur fossils here. Do you see it?
Well, actually they are eatable fish bones. Grossed out?
Hey! it's all calcium.  Good for you, right?

You will need;  
Juipo, red chili paste (Korean of course), soy sauce, sugar, sweetened rice wine, corn syrup, and sesame seeds. 
There is one more item missing in this group but I will show you later.

First roast your Juipo over low flame on stove top until it gets curled up and the edge gets browned, about 10 seconds each sides.
It will look like this after roasting. You will love the smell!
Do not over roast them unless you have the jaw of Jaws, the shark!
They will get tough by over roasting.

Let them cool and tear them into bite sizes.
Pop one piece in you mouth and chew it. You will love it.

I am saving these three guys for my 9 yr old daughter who loves dried fish 
but can't handle the spicy sauce yet.
They are good to eat the way they are as a snack like beef jerky.

In a pan combine Korean chili paste, soy sauce, sugar, and the sweetened rice wine.

Now this is the ingredient I need to add. What is this?
It is Mayonnaise.
You won't taste it at all in the dish but make so much difference in the over all flavor.
It also softens the fish as well.
Add it to the pan and mix well to incorporate with sauce.

Bring the sauce to a full boil until it thickens. Remove pan from the heat.

Add the Juipo pieces to the sauce and mix well.
Sprinkle some sesame seeds.

Add a little Korean corn syrup, or any light corn syrup to the mixture.
This will add nice shine to the dish but you don't have to.

So how do you eat this?
Simply with rice, what else?
This makes a great Banchan, Korean side dishes
Sooooooooo good!

They can be stored in your fridge for eternity, which I love,
but mine never get lasted more than 3 days.
Because I always took some out to eat with my leftover rice in the middle of the night. you just discovered my weakness.

You rock, fish jerky!
and I luv U with all my heart...

Juipo, the Korean fish jerky in spicy sauce
makes 7 servings as Banchan(side dish)

7 pieces of Juipo(dried file fish), each has size of petite woman's hand
2-3T Korean red chili paste
1T soy sauce(low sodium)
3T Korean sweetened rice wine, Mirim
1t sugar
2t mayonnaise
1T corn syrup, optional
some sesame seeds

Roast the fish over the low flame on the stove until it gets curled up and the edge gets browned, about 10 seconds on each side. Cool them down a bit and tear them off to bite sizes. Set aside.

In a non stick pan combine chili paste, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, and mayonnaise to make sauce. Mix well.
Bring the sauce to a full boil until it thickens. Remove the pan from heat. Add the fish and mix well. Add corn syrup to bring the more shine if you like. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top.
Serve this as Banchan(side dish) with rice. Store the leftover in the fridge up to several weeks.

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