King Dumplings

March 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

Today’s a very rainy day here, so I thought this might be an appropriate meal to post: beef and pork dumplings in King-sized wrappers (made last year). These are way too big, but I didn’t have the option of getting the smaller-sized ones because I didn’t like the ingredients of the ones available. Wrappers should be made with rice flour or they won’t taste very good.

I made these too salty–OOPS!  But we tried to off-set that by making them into a soup (one of my comfort foods)….we had to keep it boiling a long time to pull out the salt! I’ve been discouraged to make them again, but I have two packages of wrappers in my freezer right now! I suppose I could make vegetarian taco cups with them…hhhmmm…

Speaking of…these can be vegetarian—just use whatever veggies you like, but also keep in mind that the water content of each will vary.  So you want to use something that will soak up some of the liquid while it’s in the wrapper. I used flour in mine. You’ll also want to keep in mind the different textures of the veggies when choosing the right combination.

My mom would make hundreds of them for New Year’s Day (she had a few helpers) and freeze them a little first on sheet pans or large plates and then throw them in a bag together. That way, they won’t stick to each other. If you live in a cold place, you can just place them outside in the garage during the winter months and they’ll freeze very quickly.

A pet peeve of mine: when I see dumplings being made on TV and on food blogs, people don’t make them with their hands…they always place a bunch on the cutting board and make a bunch at a time. Then they proceed to awkwardly fold them…still on the cutting board! These are to be made by hand, one-by-one and not factory style, taking care into folding and sealing them. I can’t say that I make mine pretty (as shown by the very chubby dumplings I made!), but my mom is my reference point. There’s a lot of TLC that goes into one dumpling—it’s the single most important ingredient to making home-cooked meals delicious (even if there’s too much salt!)!!!

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Wild Mushroom Jook (Korean Risotto)

March 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

I made this in November 2012—its a good dish to eat during chilly winter months….

Tender Squash, Juicy and Sweet Cucumbers

August 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

Zucchini from my mom’s garden is one of the things I miss the most.  She grows the Korean variety (surprise, surprise).  So you can probably imagine my excitement when someone gave me some squash from their garden!  Oh—yes, they were just as tender cutting through them as I remembered!  There is NOTHING that comes close to homegrown veggies.

I *mandolined* the cucumbers to make the “salted cucumbers” that we always order extra on our bagels at Beauty’s Bagel in Oakland, mentioned here.  Since we don’t eat a lot of sandwiches at home, I eventually morphed it into a Korean side dish (post will come later).

I made this pasta dish the day I received these beauties….look how tender and juicy they look!

Ingredients:  avocado oil, green & yellow squash, pan-roasted garlic, clams & their juice, saffron, crushed red pepper, white wine, sea salt, butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano

Japchae!

August 6, 2013 § 8 Comments

My housemate makes the BEST japchae (our moms don’t count, though *^^*).  This is a relatively simple dish, but takes a LOT of preparation and timing is crucial.  He washed and prepped everything from start to finish by himself.  I’m usually his sous chef for this dish, but I was out with a friend at the time! :p

Here’s how he makes it:

1.  PREP VEGGIES AND MEAT.

  • All the veggies and fish cake should be sliced to similar sizes. Set these aside.
  • Slice the beef lengthwise to bite-size pieces, so that they are somewhat similar to the veggies.  Add sliced garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil.  Mix well.  Set aside.

2.  PREP NOODLES.

  • Bring a pot of water to a vigorous boil and drop in the sweet potato starch noodles (I’ve heard people call them “glassy” noodles) – follow cooking time on the package.
  • Drain the noodles and place in a large bowl.
  • Add sesame oil right away to coat the noodles.  This not only gives the noodles flavor, but it will also prevent it from sticking.
  • Add soy sauce just before adding to the wok, otherwise, the noodles will soak it all up and will get too plump (imagine overcooking pasta).

3.  ASSEMBLE DISH.

  • Heat a wok or large pan, place a generous amount of high heat oil (canola, safflower, grapeseed, vegetable) to sauté the ingredients.
  • The ingredients should be added in the following order:  carrots, onions, beef, fish cake, green onions, sweet potato starch noodles (add soy sauce to noodles at this time, before adding to the wok), mushrooms, baby kale, spinach.  Each layer should be salted a little and sautéed before adding the next ingredient.
  • Add some sugar at the end for a little sweetness.
  • Mix everything really well.

4.  SERVE HOT OR AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.

TIPS:

  • One can omit the fish cake and beef to make this a vegetarian dish.
  • Add any vegetable you want.  We typically use carrots, onions, mushrooms, green onions and spinach.
  • I recommend using wood ear, shitake and/or oyster mushrooms.  Avoid using crimini and button mushrooms—I don’t think the texture and taste would be right, BUT, to each his own, right?
  • We used baby spinach and baby kale for this one, but just remember that it takes longer to cook the baby kale.
  • Toasted sesame seeds are also optional — it can look a little “messy” if you use it, though, so it has been omitted here.
  • To make it spicy, you can add any of the following or any combination thereof:  spicy peppers, red pepper powder, spicy pepper oil.

NOTE:  You probably noticed that I have no specific amounts listed and this was not to be annoying, but I genuinely don’t know how much.  We just “add enough to make it taste good”.  The key is to taste the food at various stages to suit your taste buds and to follow your intuition.  That’s typically the answer one would get from a Korean mother. *^^*

WARNING:  YOUR MOUTH WILL BE WATERING WHEN LOOKING AT THESE PHOTOS!!!

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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.

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.

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.

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