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March 28, 2011

Fish Cakes with Vegetables, busy life easy recipe


Everyone is busy these days. 
And that "Everyone" wants quick and easy, no brainier recipes.
So here is one I can offer that can be prepared less than 15 minutes from start to finish, only "if" you can slice 1 green pepper, 1/2 onion and 1/2 carrot within 5 minutes and 30 seconds. 
I bet you can. 
And did I say you only need one flavoring ingredient to season this fabulous dish? 
...the bottled Oyster sauce! That's all.
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March 22, 2011

Baby Radish Kimchee, only for the early birds

So I went to my handy-dandy Korean store the other day and noticed a bunch of ladies gathered-up in the produce section, head to head around the pile of green thingy, trying to grab them as much as they can. I went close to see what they are digging in for.  
For my surprise, those green thingy were the young Korean baby radishes. They are only available in spring (sometimes early in the summer). They came to market quite early this year.
They are basically baby radish that had been harvested when they just started to grow. Tender, mild, crunch..., they make wonderful Kimchee for the warmer season. They don't get available in the groceries that often. No wonder those ladies are packing their plastic bags with these cuties. Of course all of them were all Koreans! 

Being a Korean housewife I had to be part of that early bird deal (they were selling very cheap) and was able to grab two bunches in the midst of all those desperate housewives.
So, I am going to show you how you can make a wonderful Kimchee with these babies. It is called  Yulmoo Kimchee (열무김치). It is easier and quicker to make (good news, right?) than most cabbage kimhcee. However, in most cases, this kimchee has more watery, juice like filling than other kimchee. The addition of fresh chili makes the juice so refreshingly cool and tangy once fermented. It will make a wonderful cold noodle dish - one of my old time favorite summer lunch, or a quick Bibimbap as well. A true rustic Korean way of enjoying the radish babies...

By the way, why all the babies have to be so cute whether they are of humans, animals, and even vegetables?


 Here are what you need. Baby radish, Asian pear, red chili, Korean chili flakes, garlic, salted shrimps, anchovy sauce, ginger, garlic, onion, glutinous rice powder, and sugar.

First thing you need to do... Make rice glue. Combine water and rice powder and let it boil until it gets slightly thicken, about 3-5 minutes string constantly. It will be very runny like syrup. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.

 Cut off the piggy tails from the radish babies. Scrape off the outer skin gently with a blade of your knife. On the base, where the white meets green stems, remove all the soiled part of skin by cutting off a little.

Cut off the very end leafy part of the stem. They will be too tough. Discard!
You can say Good-bye or Sayonara to them. I usually save them to make soup, though...

Slice the radish to your middle finger size. Sorry! For being a decent educated woman, I just can't show my middle finger to you. Hope you understand.

 Rinse them gently twice. Be gentle! They are babies...  Drain well.

 Now you will need a good quality Korean coarse sea salt, about 1/2 cup.

 Take about 1/4 of these greens and sprinkle some salt all over. Repeat the layers.

 Let these babies to absorb salt for about 1 hr, turning once or twice in between.

You will see what salt did to these green guys. It sucked the life out of them.
Bad salt! No dessert for you!

 Rinse about 2-3 times and drain well. Be very gentle when you rinse them. DO NOT rub or massage. If you act rough on them they will be grassy on you.

 Meanwhile puree the pear in a blender. I love to see how the solid matter becomes liquid in one touch button.

 You want to filter the puree to get rid of the fiber and the foam. You will get clear juice that way, which creates gorgeous color and texture in Kimchee juice later on.

Process fresh chili, anchovy sauce, salted shrimp, garlic in a blender. You don't need puree finely on this guys.

 Now, get a big mixing bowl. Place the radish greens, add chili mixture, Korean chili flakes, sliced, fresh chilies and onions, sugar, and ginger. Pour the cooled rice glue and the pear juice.

 Very gently toss all together. Taste the juice to see if it is seasoned right for you. Add more anchovy sauce or salt according to your taste.

Two bunches of these baby radishes fit just right in a large ziplock container. 
Let it sit on the counter for 1-2 days and keep in the fridge for at least 1 week to ferment. 
This radish kimchee won't taste that good when freshly made but once they get fermented? 
Well, you won't get enough of them...

After one week...

Still vibrant in color,
Crunch yet tender greens,
The divine taste of the juice,
the Korean baby radish kimchee is ready to eat...

Baby Radish Kimchee
(열무김치, yulmoo kimchee)

2 bunches Korean baby radishes
1/2 cup Korean coarse sea salt
1/2 large onion, sliced
3 fresh red chilies, sliced
3 Tbsp Korean chili flakes 
2 tsp sugar
1 Asian pear, peeled, seeded, pureed, and filtered to collect clear juice

Rice glue:
2 Tbsp glutenous rice powder
4 cups water

4 fresh red chilies, diced
4 garlic cloves
1/2" ginger stem, peeled or 2 tsp pureed ginger
3 Tbsp salted shrimps
1 Tbsp anchovy sauce

Make a rice glue by combining water and the rice powder with a whisk in a small pot, and bring to boil. Let it thicken, about 3-5 minutes, stirring constatnly. The glue will be very runny almost like a syrup. Remove the pot from the heat and let the glue cool completely.

Cut off the long tails of the white part of the radish greens and scrape off the dirty outer skin with a blade of your knife. Make sure to clean on the base where it meets the green stems. Cut off the very end leafy parts of the stems as well. Discard them or save them for other uses, such as soup.
Cut the greens into about 2 1/2" - 3" long pieces.

Rinse the baby greens twice gently and drain. In a large mixing bowl spread 1/4 of the greens and sprinkle the 1/4 of salt all over. Repeat the layers until all the green gets sprinkled with salt evenly. Let it sit for 1 hour, turning them once or twice in between. You will see some water extracted from the greens and the volume has been reduced to nearly a half. Rinse 3 times very gently and drain well.

Process all the filling ingredients in a blender or food processor. In a large mixing bowl combine the radish greens, sliced chilies and onions, Korean chili flakes, pear juice, rice glue, and the filling. Toss very gently with hand until everything gets incorporated. The whole mixture will have lots of liquid. Taste the juice to adjust your seasoning if you need. You can add more salt or anchovy sauce according to your taste.

Transfer the Kimchee into airtight container. Let it ferment on a room temperature for 1-2 days and continue to ferment in the fridge for 1 week before you serve. Serve cool.

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March 16, 2011

Kimchee Shrimp Cakes, farewell my Kimchee...

Oh, no! My winter cabbage Kimchee came to an end... :(
There was only one head of Kimchee left lonely in my Kimchee container. Alas! Tears streaming down on my cheeks (just the imaginary tears)... I have to say goodbye to her.
I have enjoyed stews, pan cakes, fried rice, and patties, etc with it all through the winter. It has been a wonderful culinary journey with my fabulous Kimchee this winter.
So for my final farewell party, I made Kimchee cakes with the help of shrimp and tofu.
If you have some nasty fermented Kimchee abandoned in the back corner of your fridge, bring them out to the world. This recipe will bring the dinner in snap. It is quick and easy to make, wonderful for weeknight menu.
Let's get our hands in action! But first, allow me to wipe off my tears... Thank you.


The guest lists are; Kimchee, shrimps, tofu, chives, panko crumbs, eggs, sesame oil, sesame seeds, salt and pepper. 

I used 8 of 21-25 counts big shrimps. Dice them into small chunks.

Squeeze your kimchee to remove her juice. 

Chop her as fine as you can. 

Wrap the tofu tightly with the cotton cloth and squeeze him to remove his juice as well.

In a bowl combine shrimps, kimchee, tofu and some chopped chives (or green onions).

Add panko crumbs, sesame oil, sesame seeds, salt, pepper, and an egg. Then I realized...

One egg was not enough to hold the mixture together. They looked too crumbly.

So I added another egg and mixed all with hand by massaging them around. Looks just right.
You want to massage them so the tofu will get mashed and incorporated with everything.

Scoop a spoonful of mixture onto hot oiled skillet. Press gently to flatten down a bit.
I wouldn't worry about making perfect shape on these cakes. Save your worries to other things in life...

Pan fry them for 3-4 minutes on each side over medium to med-low heat, until nice and brown.

That is all to it. Quite simple and easy, right?
My sweet angel loved it.  I meant to serve them as a snack but she ate them like a dinner with some rice.

Time to say goodbye to my dear winter cabbage kimchee.
So long,
Auf Wiedersehen.

Winter has ended and the spring buds are popping everywhere.
My favorite season has arrived...

Cherry blossom festival is coming soon here in D.C.
I bet the blossoms will be in their peak in Japan as well.
My thoughts and prayers are with them.
Words can't describe their losses.
But there's always a hope blossoming somewhere,
I believe they will make it happen,
with their noble and strong spirit to unite...

Kimchee Shrimp Cakes
(새우 김치전, saewoo kimchee jeon)
makes about 15 patties

1/3 head (about 1/3 pound) Kimchee
8 (21-25 counts) large frozen shrimps, thawed and chopped
8 oz firm tofu, drained
1/4 cup chives or green onion finely chopped
2 large eggs
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
pinch salt and pepper
some canola or grape seed oil for sauteing

Squeeze kimchee to remove its juice and moisture, chop finely, reserve about 1 cup.
Wrap tofu with a cotton cloth tightly and squeeze out to remove as much water as possible.
In a mixing bowl combine kimchee, shrimps, and tofu. Add chives, eggs, panko crumbs, sesame oil, sesame seeds and season with salt and pepper. With your hand, massage them around to mix so the tofu will get mashed and everything gets incorporated. The mixture should feel wet and sticky.
Heat about 1 Tbsp of oil in the skillet over medium heat. Scoop a spoonful of kimchee shrimp mixture on the skillet and gently press down to flatten a little bit. Saute for 3-4 minutes on each side until nice and brown.
Adjust heat so they won't burn. Drizzle more oil in the skillet if needed.
Serve hot with some rice or eat as it is.

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March 10, 2011

Braised Mackerel, Holy mackerel

I like fish, fish of all kind - white or pink, fat or skinny, long or short.
Growing up in a southern fishing town, seafood was abundant on our family table. They were all fresh, nothing from canned or frozen. I hardly ever had fish that has been dead for a few days, or came as frozen or kept in coffins (canned). But there is one fish dish that I actually prefer canned over fresh. It is the braised Mackerel with radish.
Two reasons... They are tastier, and they tend to be less fishy than fresh ones during cooking. Oh! add one more. They are quicker to make, too. Oh! another one - they are ultra cheap, cheaper than fresh.
If you allow me to add one last more, you can even eat their bones. Yes, bones! They are soft enough to enjoy and offers natural calcium.

So, I ended up giving you 5 reasons why you should try the canned mackerels. I also strongly suggest to eat with cabbage for this dish. You will know why I recommended that when you taste it.
Mackerels are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which is essential in brain growth, and help keep your blood fresh and thinner.  So good for your heart. Of course, there is a worry about mercury intake, but as long as you avoid king mackerels, and you don't eat them every single day, your body will take great benefit from these blue fatty fish of deep ocean.
Okay, let's stop talking and start cooking.


 You will need;
Canned mackerel, Korean radish, onion, garlic, Korean chili flakes, soy sauce, Korean soy sauce, rice wine, cabbage, green onion, and black pepper.

 Take the mackerel out of his coffin. Strain and reserve the juice.

 Cut up the radish, onion, green onion, and chop some garlic.

Put radish and onion in the pot and place the mackerel pieces on top.

 I forgot to add my ginger in the list. In a bowl combine all the sauce ingredients with reserved canned juice and pureed ginger.
Ginger will help boost the flavor and cut down any fish smell it might have.

 Sprinkle sauce all over them.

Let it boil. Reduce to heat to low and simmer, covered, until the radish gets soft, about 10 minutes.

"Holy Mackerel!" That was super fast!
They are done. Throw some green onion at the end.

 This is an optional but your mackerel will like the partnership with cabbage.
Just tear or cut off each leaf from the base of cabbage.

 Cook them in the boiling water with some salt, about 3-4 minutes, until soft. Drain and rinse.
That's all.

If you allow me a serving suggestion...
Place some rice, a piece of mackerel, and the radish with delicious sauce on a cabbage leaf, and wrap around or bunch it up.

Here is the dilemma...
How can I put the whole thing in my mouth?
Koreans never bite off anything that is wrapped. 
I wished that my mouth was as big as Angelina Joli's.
But I did. 
I did put the whole thing into my mouth. 

"Holy Mackerel!"
I praised it not for my capability of putting this huge wrap into my mouth,
but for the holy taste that came from this divine fish.

You better believe!

Braised Mackerel
(고등어 조림, godenguh jorim)
2 servings

1 can (14 oz) Mackerel, strained and the juice reserved
1/2 lb Korean radish, diced into 1/4" thick slices
1/2 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp Korean soy sauce
1/2 tsp pureed ginger
1-2 Tbsp Korean chili flakes
1 Tbsp rice wine or Mirim
8-10 cabbage leaves for wrapping, optional

Put radish and onion slices in the shallow pan, and place mackerels on top.
In a small bowl, combine the reserved canned mackerel juice with garlic, soy sauces, ginger, rice wine, and chili flakes. Sprinkle the sauce all over the mackerels in the pan.
Bring them to boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes, covered, until the radish gets tender. Serve hot with rice and steamed cabbage leaves.

For the cabbage, Tear some leaves from the cabbage and cook them in the boiling water with some salt for 3-4 minutes until they get soft. Drain and rinse. Use these leaves to wrap around the mackerel, radish, and some rice. 

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