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January 27, 2011

Kimchee Stew, what goes around comes around

Kimchi, Kimchee, I love Kimchee.
Fresh or rotten (?), hot or cold...

When I was in the college once upon a time in the far far west, one of my roommate threw away my precious bottle of Kimchee one day telling me that my cabbage was rotten. She did not apologize. Next day I threw away her cheese telling her that her milk went rotten and stinky. It was.
No questions were asked. We didn't fight but I made my point.
Life is funny sometimes.
Several years later I bumped into her at the mall. It turned out that she married to someone who loves Korean food and keeps a bottle of Kimchee in the fridge all the time!
And I married to a guy who has to nibble on cheese and crackers pretty much every night.
We laughed...
What goes around comes around.

 If you have the stinky rotten Kimchee (Kimchi) in the fridge, don't throw away. Make a pot of stew.

Important: Your Kimchee needs to be VERY, VERY FERMENTED. If you are starting with store bought jar of Kimchee let it sit on the counter for at least couple of days. You want the Kimchee to be so old that you don't want to eat as is.

You will need; Kimchee of course, pork belly or butt, tofu (I use firm), onion, garlic, kimchee juice, Korean soy sauce, rice wine, rice cake (optional), anchovy and sea kelp (optional).

I must be an anchovy in my previous life. I love them. If you don't care for it, forget about them. Use water instead. I won't be offended.
For the stock, boil first and let it simmer for 10 minutes, strain the stock and discard the anchovy and the sea kelp.

Season your pork with Korean soy sauce, rice wine(Mirim), and garlic. Set aside.

This is Ms. Kimchee, a lady in red. Shake her bum bum gently to remove some stuffing inside over the sink.

Slice any way you like.

Slice the onion.

In a small bowl, combine some chili with some kimchee juice and rice wine.

In a somewhat shallow pot, spread onion on the bottom and place kimchee slices on top.

Scatter the oink-oink, I mean the pork...

Place tofu slices on top and smother the chili flake sauce on anywhere you like.

Pour the reserved kimchee juice all over,

and the anchovy stock or water.
I forgot to take a picture but you can add some rice cake slices if you happened to have. (I always save a few slices whenever I make rice cake soup for this purpose. Helps thicken the stew)

Now, my lady in red is totally immersed. Cover and boil.

When it gets boiling like this, reduce the heat to low.

Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes.  You want your lady to be nice and tender.

February and March are the month when Kimchee stew is eaten the most in Korea.
Because all the Kimchee which has been made during Nov/Dec to last through the winter finally comes to an end of their shelf life. 
April brings the spring cabbages. The new Kimchee will be born in a glory.
 But my old fermented Kimchee will never go out of spotlight.
She will not step down to a clearance rack.
 Let it shine!
in the name of STEW...

Kimchee Stew
(김치찌개, Kimchee Jjigae)
makes 4-6 servings

1/4 head of fermented cabbage Kimchee (about 1 lb), stuffing removed and sliced
2 1/2 cup anchovy stock or water
1/3 lb pork belly or pork butt diced
8 oz firm tofu, sliced
1/2 large onion, sliced
1 garlic, chopped
 2 tsp Korean soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine, divided
1/2 cup Kimchee juice
1 Tbsp Korean chili flakes
6-8 rice cake slices (optional)

Anchovy stock:
5-6 large dried anchovies
3 dried sea kelp squares
3 cup water

In a bowl toss pork slices with Korean soy sauce, 1 Tbsp rice wine, and garlic. Set aside.
In another small bowl, combine Korean chili flakes with 2 Tbsp of Kimchee juice and 1 Tbsp rice wine and set aside.
In a shallow pot, spread onion on the bottom, layer Kimchee slices, the pork, and the tofu slices on top. You can add rice cakes if you want to. Drizzle the Korean chili flake mixture over. Pour the rest of Kimchee juice and the stock (or water) over everything.  Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes, covered, until the cabbage gets soft and tender. Garnish with green onion if you wish. Serve hot with rice. 

Anchovy stock: Bring anchovies, kelp, and water to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. If you let it rest for a few minutes the stock will have better flavor. Strain the stock and discard anchovies and kelp.

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January 24, 2011

Chicken Soojaebi and Radish Kimchee Salad, humble to fancy

I was contacted by Lisa from Korean American mommy blog and she invited me to post a dinner idea for her "Around the world dinner" on Korean food. Her blog is awesome, full of good healthy recipes for both Korean and other cuisines. I am happy to participate to show you the Korean version of chicken and dumpling.
Before I start I am going to show you something pretty.

These are juices from carrot, parsley, and beet. I just puree them in the blender with little bit of water. Aren't they pretty? 
Yup! I am going to add them to dumplings. The dish is called Soojaebi. Don't let the # of ingredients in the recipe discourage you. It is actually easy and simple to make. With addition of these super nature food you will be glad that you are feeding your loved ones with something healthy, pretty, and yummy at the same time. It is fun to make with kids, too. 
Oh, by the way, you can use any vegetables that are rich in colors... pumpkin, spinach, purple potatoes, red cabbage, kale, etc. They all work great.
Let people see the true colors of nature!

 Chicken split breast w/ bones, radish, onion, garlic, carrot, parsley, beet, potato, zucchini, flour, red chili flakes, Korean soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Whew! Did I include everything this time?

First of all, juice your chosen vegetables with some water, each separately.
FYI, I filtered the carrot puree in a coffee filter to get smoother juice. I didn't filter the others.

Prepare 3 mixing bowls. In each bowl, mix in 1 cup of flour, pinch salt, and the juice of one vegetable.

I added about 1/3 cup of juice and mix with fork, and then knead with a hand for 1 minute and form a ball shape dough.  No need to be exact consistency but do not make them too sticky (more like bread dough consistency).

♪♫ " I see your true colors shining through..." ♪♫ 
You can use right away but cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. It gives dumpling nicer texture.

Meanwhile, let's make stock.

"May I take your coat?" Politely ask chicken to get her skin off.

 Cut up radish, onion, garlic and have them bath with chicken. Nothing like a hot spring in winter... Don't you agree, Mrs. Hen?
BTW, don't skip the radish in the stock. It gives very nice flavor in the soup.

 After about 30 minutes she is well poached. Keep the stock, discard everything except Mrs. Hen.

 Shred her and set aside.

 Make sauce to go with Soojaebi. Just combine Korean soy sauce, Korean chili flakes, garlic, green onion, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Green chili is an optional.

Cut potato and zucchini into 1/4" thick slices.

Bring the stock back to boil, add chicken, sliced potato, and zucchini slices.

 Take out the three gorgeous girls from the fridge and give them some squeeze.

 If you have little people at home, have them do the tearing job for you. They think it is play dough... They can even roll out the dough and cut out with cookie cutter if they want.
You know, if they make, they will eat. Kids are funny that way.

 Or just tear directly over the pot when the soup is boiling. They cook in no time, but you gotta work fast. Try to stretch out the dough thin and tear off.

Boil for 1-2 minutes, done! Serve the soup with sauce since the stock has no seasoning in it. If you need to serve this to young ones, just add Korean soy sauce with sesame oil and some green onions.
Cabbage kimchee or radish kimchee salad is perfect side dish (banchan) to serve with.

 Make sure you serve with the sauce. Just drizzle around the soup and mix.

My bonus post today! A side dish to go with Soojaebi...
 It is called 무우생채 (moowoo-sangchae), quick radish Kimchee salad. Very easy and quick to make.
The recipe will follow below.

Soojaebi once was a very humble food.
When rice was hard to harvest, meat was scarce right after the Korean war,
everyone had to eat plain Soojaebi.
My parents won't eat the plain one
because it reminded them the harsh days of their young life.

But I am changing the recipe to upgrade.
It is no longer humble, it is fancy now for the time of abundance.

A colorful meal that taught me the lesson,
"Abundance is, in large part, an attitude."

 Chicken Soojaebi
(닭 수제비, Korean chicken and dumpling)
makes 4 servings

For the stock
2 lb chicken split breast with bones, skin removed
4" piece Korean radish or daikon radish, cut up
1/2 large onion, cut up
3 garlic cloves
8 cup water

For the dumpling and soup
2 small carrot, peeled and juiced with 1/2 cup water, filtered if possible
1 bunch parsley, juiced with 1/2 cup water
1/2 beet, peeled and juice with 1/2 cup water
3 cups flour, divided
3 pinches salt, divided
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/4"
1 medium potato, peeled and sliced into 1/4"

For the sauce
4 Tbsp Korean soy sauce
1 Tbsp Korean chili flakes
1 tsp garlic chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
1-2 green onion chopped
1 green chili chopped (optional)

For the stock put all the ingredients in the pot, boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain the stock and reserve the chicken. Shred chicken and set aside.

Meanwhile make dumplings. In 3 medium mixing bowls, place each bowl with 1 cup of flour and pinch salt. Pour 1/3 cup of each vegetable juice into bowls seperatley. Mix with a folk until moistened and knead with hand for 1 minute in the bowl. Form a ball shape dough (you will get 3 different colored dough) and cover with plastic. Chill for 30 minutes if possible so the gluten can rest.

Make sauce with given ingredients and set aside.

Return the stock to the pot and let it boil over medium heat. Add the reserved chicken, potato and zucchini slices and let it boil. Stretch the dough thinly with hand and tear off into bite sizes and drop into the pot. You need to work fast on this part. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Ladle soojaebi into the individual bowls and drizzle the sauce over. Serve warm with radish Kimchee salad or cabbage Kimchee as side dish.

Note: You can tear the dough and place on a platter in advance before you boil the soup.

Radish Kimchee Salad
(무우생채, moowoo sangchae)

1 1/2 lb Korean radish or Daikon radish
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Anchovy sauce or 1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp Korean chili flakes
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
2 tsp garlic chopped
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 green onion chopped 

Peel the radish and thinly slice them. Julienne the slices into 1/8"sticks. Place the radish into a bowl, toss with salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. You will see some water extracted from the radish. Rinse them with water and drain. 

Place the radish in a bowl again and add the rest of the ingredients. Toss well until they are well incorporated. Serve as side dish. They can be kept in the fridge for 1 week.

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January 16, 2011

Bibimbap, fit for a king or a farmer?

What can I say more about Bibimbap? It is one of the most well known Korean dish, and I never met anyone yet who doesn't like it. I know I should zip up my lips and go straight to the tutorials, but I gotta put my personal opinion on this dish.
I don't like chunks of meat added in my Bibimbap. I am not a vegetarian nor a rabbit but I like my Bibimbap to be herbivore worthy, except a tiny bit of ground beef melted in the sauce which recipe I posted just a few days ago.

Nobody is exactly sure how or where this dish was originated. Some says it was served to the kings as simple lunch in the palace (not so simple work for the royal cooks), the others believe it was for farmers who had to eat their lunch at rice field, mixing everything in a bowl for a quick meal, in order to return to the field.
There are other theories as well, but whichever story is right, whether Bibimbap was for the kings or farmers, it has continued its heritage all the way.

Every region in Korea have developed their versions by using variety of vegetable dishes called "namool (나물)".  Each seasoned separately to bring their unique flavors.

I used 6 vegetables this time. From the red color to clockwise, radish, shitake mushroom, zucchini, mungbean sprouts, fern, cucumber. You can always choose other types of vegetables such as spinach, carrot, lettuce, soy bean sprouts, eggplants, squash, etc. Color is important in the dish. Eat with eyes before eat with mouth. Think of contrast in vegetable colors.
If you want to impress your family and friends, serve Bibimbap for lunch. I occasionally serve this dish to my guests and they all loved it. The good news is that you can prepare these vegetables a day advance so all you need to do on the day of luncheon is to cook rice and fry some eggs if you like.
The dish can feed lots of people depends on how much vegetable you use. No need to worry about other dishes to go with.  This is one dish meal. It takes some time to prepare but impressive yet healthy and delicious.
For the sauce, I recommend to use my chili bibim sauce. And a fried egg on top is an optional which I didn't use this time. (Real authentic bibimbap use raw egg yolk only and I get nervous sometimes when I am not sure of the freshness of eggs I have)

The hardest part of my job is trying to list everyone in the photo. I won't name this time. If you have been following me, you know my cooking crew by now.  Contact me if you have questions on the ingredients. The long brown thingy next to the radish is fern.

고사리(gosari) is dried wild fern. Very typical vegetable in traditional Bibimbap dish. If you can't find it, then forget about it.

Soak mushrooms and ferns in the water. Mushrooms can get out of water in 2-3 hours but the fern has to stay in overnight. They are very, very dehydrated.

Now, it is time to make loads of Namool!

Peel the radish. Slice thinly and cut into 1/8" sticks.

Add 2 tsp salt and 2 tsp sugar. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

You will see some moisture has been extracted. Rinse and drain the radish.

 Add 1 Tbsp anchovy sauce, garlic, chili flakes, sesame seeds, chopped green onions(optional).

 Toss well with hand. Set aside. #1 done!

Cook mung bean sprout in boiling water for 3 minutes, drain. Toss with salt, sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic, Korean soy sauce and shrimp powder (optional). Set aside. #2 done!

Slice the cucumber very thinly.

Sprinkle some salt and let it sit to wilt for 10 minutes. Rinse and drain.

Saute in a little bit of oil, add pinch salt and sesame seeds. Make sure you keep their vibrant green color.  #3 done!

Cut zucchinis into 2" logs and peel the green part of the skin carefully from the side. Discard the white part. 

 Slice them into about 1/4" sticks. If you are not comfortable peeling off the skin, just slice the whole zucchini into whatever size you like.

 Saute them in oil, add salt, garlic, sesame oil, and sesame seeds until they get softened yet still green. #4 done!

Remove the stem of mushrooms and slice them into strips.

Saute them in oil with 1 tsp Korean soy sauce, garlic, sesame seeds and some chopped green onion. #5 done!

Once the ferns are re-hydrated, you need to cook them in simmering water for 40 minutes to soften.
Drain and cut off about 2" off from the stem ends part. They are too woody!

Place them in a bowl, add 1 Tbsp Korean soy sauce, garlic, and shrimp powder (optional), and sesame oil. Toss them well with hand.

Saute them as well until slightly tender. Add some green onion and sesame seeds. #6 done!

Whew!!!! That's all for the vegetables. You can make these ahead of time and store in the fridge. Just bring to the room temperature before you serve.
Don't forget to make the "Chili bibim sauce" to go with!

To assemble: Place hot rice in a individual serving bowl, then arrange Namools in contrasting color manner. Dot with sauce, and put fried egg on top if you like.

Tip #1: If you would like to eat as Dolsot Bibimbap (the sizzling hot stone pot), use any individual stove proof cast iron, stone, or clay pot. Just grease the pot with some oil, assemble the dish, and place on the high heat. You will hear the sound of rice sizzling in it. Remove from heat and serve asap.

Tip #2: I know some people have trouble mixing the dish. Use chopsticks to toss all the vegetables and sauce with rice together first. Then use a spoon to finish up.

 I ate it all, every single one...  and I ate it again for dinner with my family. I ate it next day as well for lunch. And I still crave my bibimbap.

Who says America is a big melting pot?
I say she is like a big bowl of Bibimbap.
The rice is like the constitution.
It becomes the foundation to support each vegetable.
The vegetables represent each of us.
With unique diverse cultural backgrounds and social values,
it is hard to harmonize into one.
That's why we need a good sauce to bind the vegetables.
It is the leadership,
inspired and motivated with correct vision for the future...

Blah, blah, blah...
 Just random words of the day.

I happened to eat my Bibimbap when I was watching TV news.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of victims of Arizona gun shootings.
My heart was aching to hear the death of a 9 yr old girl.
She happened to have the same birthday as mine.

Longing for the peaceful world to live in...
The End!


(비빔밥,  rice with mixed vegetables in spicy sauce)
serves 6-8

#1 : 1 1/2 lb Korean radish (moowoo)
2 Tbsp Korean chili flakes + 1 Tbsp anchovy sauce + 1 tsp chopped garlic + 1 Tbsp chopped green onion (optional) + 1 tsp sesame seeds

#2 : 1 lb mung bean sprouts (sookju-namool)
2 tsp Korean say sauce + 1/4 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp garlic + 1/4 tsp shrimp powder (optional) + 1/2 tsp sesame oil + 1 tsp sesame seeds

#3 : 1 English cucumber
2 tsp oil + pinch salt + 1/2 tsp sesame seeds

#4 : 2-3 zucchini or 1 if whole piece is used
2 tsp oil + 1/2 tsp shrimp powder or shrimp sauce (optional) + 1 tsp Korean say sauce + 1tsp garlic + 1/2 tsp sesame oil + 1 tsp sesame seeds

#5 : 8-10 dried shitake mushrooms, need to soak in water for 2-3 hours
1 Tbsp oil + 2tsp Korean soy sauce + 1/2 tsp sesame oil + 1/2 tsp sesame seeds + 1 Tbsp chopped green onion

#6 : 3 oz dried wild fern (gosari), need to soak in water overnight
1 Tbsp Korean soy sauce + 1tsp garlic + 1/2 tsp sesame oil + 1/2 tsp sesame seeds + 1 Tbsp oil + 1 Tbsp chopped green onion
Freshly cooked short grain rice (Korean or Japanese) : about 1 cup per serving 
6-8 eggs (optional) :  fried, sunny side up

Chili Bibim Sauce : about 1 Tbsp or more per serving

#1 : Peel radish, slice thin and cut them into 1/8" sticks. Place them in a mixing bowl, add 2 tsp salt and 2 tsp sugar. Toss and let it sit for 10 minutes. You will see some liquid extracted. Rinse the radish with water once and drain well. Place them back in the bowl and add its seasoning ingredients. Toss well and set aside.

#2 : Cook the mung bean sprouts in boiling water for 3 minutes, drain and place in a mixing bowl. Add the seasoning ingredients and toss. Set aside.

#3 : Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and slice each half very thin half moon shape. Place them in a bowl and add 1 tsp salt and let it sit for 10 minutes. Rinse with water once, drain and squeeze out a little. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and stir quick, sprinkle salt and sesame seeds, for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

#4 : Cut zucchini into 2" logs. Using a knife cut off the green part around the zucchini from the side, discard the white part. (If you are not comfortable of doing this cutting, just use 1 whole zucchini) Slice the green part of zucchini into 1/4" sticks. Heat oil, add zucchini and stir fry for 1 minutes. Add the seasonings and fry until it gets soften keeping the green color.

#5 : Soak the mushrooms in water for 2-3 hours. Remove from water and squeeze out excess water. Slice them thin and cook in the oil with its seasoning until soft,  about 3 minutes. Set aside.

#6 : Soak the fern in water overnight. Cook them in a simmering water for 40 minutes until it gets re-hydrated. Drain and rinse. Cut off the woody end part (about 2-3") and discard. Cut the fern 2" slices. Place the fern in a bowl and add Korean say sauce, garlic, sesame oil. Toss with a hand. Heat oil in a skillet, add seasoned fern and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add sesame seeds and green onion. Set aside.

To serve, place rice in individual serving bowl or pot. Arrange vegetables contrast in color manner on top of the rice. Place fried eggs on top and dot with sauce. When ready to eat, mix like crazy!

Note: You can prepare each vegetables ahead of time and keep in the fridge. Bring to the room temperature before you serve.

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