Dashima and dumplings…..

March 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

THIS is one of my COMFORT FOODS:  dumpling soup!  I grew up eating a variation of this once every New Year’s Day.  My mom would make hundreds of dumplings and turn it into soup, make the deep-fried kind and have each household and family member be able to take home at least another few meals’ worth of dumplings.

My mom makes it with a beef-based broth, but my M-I-L makes a seafood-based broth.  I’ve adapted the latter since its much easier to boil some anchovies or dashima or a combination of both.  The dumplings here are pork, but can be easily interchanged with vegetarian ones.  So on a chilly day, a nice bowl of this soup really hits the spot!

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Here’s how we make it (ingredient list in purple):

  1. Boil pot of water, enough for the meal and a some extra due to evaporation.  The extra amount depends on how much you plan to boil the anchovies and dashima.
  2. Add the anchovies (we have a stainless steel container with holes that we use to place them in—kind of like a much larger version of a loose tea strainer) and several pieces of dashima.  If you don’t have dashima, then skip it.
  3. Keep boiling them and watch the water level.  If it condenses down too much, then add some boiling water to it (I have a separate electric water boiler).
  4. While the broth is boiling away, mix 2 eggs, salt, dashima and a tiny splash of Korean soy sauce in a bowl, but be careful to not add too much of these salty ingredients—its better to under-salt.  Set the bowl aside.
  5. Clean and slice 3-4 stalks of green onions
  6. Slice some garlic, ~3-5 cloves.
  7. The rest of the ingredients are layed out on the counter beforehand because everything must be added quickly or the dumplings will overcook and turn into mush:  dumplings, salt, seafood dashida, Korean soy sauce (again, this is for soup—DO NOT substitute for soy sauce used for dipping), unseasoned dried seaweed sheets.
  8. After at least 20 minutes of boiling, I drop in about 18-22 dumplings (for 2 very hungry people) and the garlic.  Let it come to boil again.
  9. Then quickly add the egg mixture by pouring it over the the fork or chopsticks (whatever you used to mix the eggs), simultaneously moving across the pot.  The point of this is to spread out the egg and get them into thin “strips”.  If you just dump the mixture in the hot water, it will cook into one large egg ball.
  10. Add the green onions on top, cover the pot with the lid.  Once it starts to come to a boil, turn off the flame, making sure the eggs are steamed/boiled, but not too much.  The key is to keep the eggs light and fluffy, so you don’t want to cook them too much.
  11. Heat 2 sheets of seaweed over an open flame (or a dry pan) by quickly moving it around the flame.  The sheets will krinkle up.  Then crumble it all over the top of the dumpling soup.  If you don’t have seaweed sheets, then skip this step.
  12. Serve immediately (minimally with kimchi, of course!).

Note:  Dashi-MA and dashi-DA are different.  Dashida is the powder spice that I mentioned in an earlier post. Dashima is another type of dried seaweed.  I’ve seen some labels  that read “kelp” and others as “sea tangle”.  Honestly, I have no idea what the difference is, so hopefully my photos will help.  This is also used to flavor broth.  It gives the broth a depth of flavor that is hard to explain and gives the soup a clean, refreshing taste.  Once you try it, then you’ll know what I mean.

How to use it:  Its very easy to use—all you do is take a few pieces (~6 pieces for a medium-sized pot) out and drop them in when the broth is boiling.  Since its used to flavor the base, use it at the beginning, before you add your main ingredients and let it boil at least 10 minutes.

Extra Tips:  Dashima can be added to seaweed soup (seen in my birthday post here), spicy Korean rice cakes (which we do add) and there are a ton more, but I just can’t think of any at the moment.

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Request: “something good with eggplant”

March 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

Although I love eggplant, I never cook with it because it can be a little tricky to bring out the flavor without it tasting like one big pile of mush (which is what I did once about 6 years ago!).  This one seemed to turn out pretty good, though.  My official taste tester gave it a thumbs up, but even better, said he would eat it again if I made it!

Here’s my eggplant side dish {I used medium heat to cook this}.

1.  To heated canola oil, I added garlic and shallots to perfume the oil.  Cooked until starting to get translucent.

2.  Then added eggplant and salted right away to draw out some moisture.  A few splashes of soy sauce (the Korean kind, which is used for soups, so the flavor is much more concentrated and saltier than the Kikkoman variety).  Some red pepper powder was also added.

3.  When eggplant is tender, bias-sliced green onions were added to finish the dish.

Extra tip:  To soy sauce or not to soy sauce?  I would NOT substitute any other kind of soy sauce for this dish.  However, you can add some seafood dashida instead.

Dashida is a powder mix, similar to chicken or beef boullion.  So it is very salty and a little goes a long way.  You can get a seafood or beef-flavored dashida.   The one pictured below is a seafood-based dashida that is “all natural” with no preservatives.  Sometimes I use this to flavor soup even if the soup is not seafood-based (e.g. Korean-style egg drop soup).  It is simply to provide an extra layer of flavor.  This doesn’t mean you should use it until you can actually taste it—it is only supposed to enhance the flavors that are already present in the dish.

chocolate sablés

March 7, 2012 § 2 Comments

Dorie Greenspan’s chocolate sablés—-‘nuf said!  {Except its recommended to be eaten with ice cream.}

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leftovers…

March 5, 2012 § 1 Comment

What do you do with some trumpet mushrooms and zucchini?  Well, considering that I almost ALWAYS have tofu, garlic and onions on hand, I made a stew with it.  Remember that fermented bean paste (another staple in my fridge) in one of my earlier posts?  These ingredients were really not even leftovers considering the stew I was able to make out of it (see first photo). 🙂

…..On another day…..

We had a couple of slices of thinly sliced pork that was leftover on a night of grilling meat (called Korean BBQ to Westerners). Essentially, these are like the Korean version of bacon, only it isn’t cured or anything–just thinly sliced.  So what do you do with 6 pieces?  Pan fry it with kimchi, of course (see 2nd photo)! 😛  Kimchi is one of those things that you can use a gazillion different ways. It’s sacrilege to throw out “old” kimchi.  As a rule of thumb, the “older” it is, the tastier it is as a stew or pan fried.

Tofu tip:   To make this vegetarian, omit the pork and you can serve fried kimchi with a side of super-soft tofu that is boiled in water or with sliced firm tofu that is pan-fried.  I’ll show this another time since we eat a lot of tofu.

My Sweet Valentine *^^*

March 4, 2012 § 3 Comments

This recipe, “Holiday Sugar Cookies”, is from Joanne Chang’s  flour cookbook.  My own twist was to use concentrated hibiscus tea as my food coloring, which resulted in a lavender color once it was mixed with the powdered sugar.  Unfortunately, I used an entire 16-oz bag of overpriced organic powdered sugar, but found that using a third or half of it would have sufficed.  Tant pis! 

BUT, I really loved the outcome because the cookie wasn’t rock hard.  These were much softer and a bit crumblier, which I really liked.  However, the absolute BEST part of these cookies was that the most unlikely thing happened:  the spouse helped to decorate MOST of them and thoroughly had a lot of fun doing it!  We were up until 2am getting them done so that I could take them to work in the morning for Valentine’s Day.  We made somewhere close to 80 cookies.

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A birthday fit for a KING!

March 2, 2012 § 4 Comments

This ENTIRE meal was homemade, except for the seaweed sheets—I made the {*DELICIOUS*} seaweed soup and my mom made ALL the side dishes, in which at least SIX of them are from her garden! 😛

I should say that we also had kalbi (Korean short ribs) that my mom made, but there was so many side dishes that we served it for dinner (short ribs for breakfast just doesn’t seem appealing).

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’twas the night before Valentine’s day…

March 1, 2012 § 3 Comments

This was probably one of my most memorable Valentine’s celebration, especially since we are not big on “holidays”.  My favorite roommate made one of my all-time favorite Korean street foods:  spicy Korean rice cakes and a side of pan-fried dumplings.

A tasty snack:  fresh rice cakes can be eaten just by dipping it in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds.

The pictures say it all—–your mouth will be watering by the end of it…..

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