Kimchi jiggae

20121026-114352.jpgMuch to my delight the grocery store I normally go to finally has a teeny, tiny Asian section.

Last night in a burst of nostalgia for South Korea, I loaded up on kimchi, tofu, eggs, seaweed, garlic, ginger, onion and all the fixings for a delicious kimchi jiggae. I used this recipe from Zen Kimchi with two substitutions, chicken in place of the pork belly and vodka in place of the soju.

I still have not found soju in Utah!

Someday the DABC will hear my sorrow and purchase South Korea’s liquor of choice without forcing me to buy an entire pallet.

The kimchi jiggae was boiling hot and delicious. Although not as spicy as I would like, I think I’ll have to try out another kimchi and search for some gochujang. It was lovely to have a nice reminder of South Korea in my Salt Lake City home. Eating this soup all the memories of school lunches, nights in and out came back warmly.



Korean food blog love

I’ve been in a Korean food funk lately.

Unless I’m eating kim bap, bibim bap, kimchi jiggae, bulgogi or galbi tang, I’m probably not eating Korean food. (There’s a lot of eggs and toast going on over here.) I miss cooking so much, I stare at these blogs and drool. I think it’s time I get inspired to get cooking or at least expand my food horizons when ordering Korean food.

Korean Food is no longer updated, but has a great archive of recipes and information on traditional Korean food. I’ve got more than one idea for future food adventures from this site.

Maangchi pretty much has me praying I end up in New York so I could take an amazing Korean cooking lesson in English. Also her measurements are in American, not metric, so I can actually visualize the recipe before I try it out.

Life in Korea has a little food section that I adore. Every recipe leaves me inspired to try it out in my own little kitchen.

Korean Food Recipe doesn’t seem to update very often, but there are a few easy to follow, easy to do recipes I would love to try. I’m especially excited about the sesame leaf kimchi. I know I’m going to love that one.

Digging through the archives of My Korean Kitchen is also promising some tasty recipes and future food experiences to come. I’m a little sad to say this blog is also now defunct. Is there some sort of three year blogging curse no one’s warned me about?

I hope you feel inspired to try out a few Korean dishes too. Good luck in your kitchen.


The full spread--all of it for one

Galbitang (갈비당) is a sweet beef soup I’ve come to love and overindulge in regularly in Chungju. (It helps that galbitang is available 24 hours a day at a nearby restaurant.)

The soup is made from big beef ribs  boiled in some kind of stock. I still haven’t quite figured out what the stock is. I’ve seen it, tasted it and even cooked with it, yet I could not tell you what the base of most Korean soups is.

The soup is served boiling hot in a black stone pot with plenty of tangy onions and black pepper for spice. Occasionally the soup is served with local spices I cannot identify. The spice I get most often is most like boiled fresh ginger in it’s texture, but the taste is much more tree-like. Not that I’ve eaten tree, I just think of bark when I bite into this stuff. It’s not terrible just kind of bland.

In addition some glass noodles are thrown into the mix. I’ve even had a few dishes with thick rice noodles in them. And of course, the most memorable galbitang had potatoes in it. That made my heart dance in happiness.

The side dishes--kimchi, kimchi and onions

In wonderful Korean tradition, restaurants serve a few side dishes or banchan (반찬) with every dish. Generally galbitang comes with cabbage kimchi (the one you are probably thinking of), cucumber kimchi (my favorite kind) and onions soaked in soy sauce. Depending on the restaurant, I’ve gotten different sides including dried squid stir-fried in hot sauce and fermented daikon.

The ever-present rice or bap (밥) is served with a tang (soup) as well. I love to mix the rice in with the left over broth after eating all the meat and glass noodles. All the carbs make for a deliciously filling finish to the meal.

Galbitang is delicious, not at all spicy and a wonderful dish for anyone curious about Korean cuisine. Plus it would be fairly easy to make on your own if you’re far from a Korean restaurant. Meanwhile for those of you in the ROK, galbitang costs between 4,000 and 7,000 won at most restaurants.

Galbitang--a sweet beef soup found in South Korea

Eggs, eggs everywhere

“How can you not love a country that serves eggs with every meal?” I asked as John, Hannah and I dug into our own dish off steamed eggs to accompany our beer.

I’d never given much thought to eggs. Generally I liked them. I have a preference for fried over scrambled and fresh over store-bought. But otherwise eggs didn’t play a big part in the cuisine of my day. Until I came to Korea and now eggs are everywhere.

Egg salad in a sandwich. Scrambled eggs in a wrap. Fried eggs in bibimbap. Scrambled eggs in kimbap. Steamed eggs on the side. Eggs are served with nearly every meal.

I love the steamed eggs so much I’ve committed to buying a stone bowl just so I can learn to make them. I suppose they’re something like a quiche only lighter, fluffier and better.

Everyday I look no farther than the fresh brown chicken eggs of Chungju for my daily protein fix. I love those yellow-centered white orbs more than I my heart would like. I love ’em, gosh darn it, especially when the egg smiles at me from a bowl of sticky white rice.

Chicken rice soup with a Korean kick

For my American friends, I give you chicken soup with a Korean twist.

For my Korean friends, I give you American-style samgyetang.

First, I made my own chicken stock since I haven’t had any luck finding some at the store. (This doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It just means I’m not sure what it looks like.) To make the chicken stock, I followed Edna Lewis’ recipe from “In Pursuit of Flavor.” Pretty much, you just saute some chicken throw it in a pot of boiling water with onion, garlic and spices and let it simmer itself to deliciousness.

The trickiest part of this recipe is preparing the stock beforehand so you are ready to rock your soup socks.

First chop up the veggies–onion, garlic, ginger, carrots, acorn squash (?), green bell peppers, spicy red peppers and mushrooms. The squash gets a question mark because I bought this vegetable thinking it was a pumpkin then realized it wasn’t so now I’m not sure what it was. It’s got a green rind, orange meat and is full of look-a-like pumpkin seeds. It tastes great and I love to eat it, I just don’t know what to call it.

Heat oil in a pan for about one minute on medium heat. Saute the garlic and ginger for about two minutes until a nice toasty brown. Add the onions and let cook for about three minutes until they start to soften and turn clear.

Now add the carrots and squash. (Also potato would totally rock in this soup so if you have that now would be the time to cook it.) Add a bit of salt and pepper. Let everything cook for about five minutes.

Add the peppers and mushrooms and cook for an additional two or three minutes. You want all the veggies to be at a state of crisp tender. Basically mostly cooked, but not quite.

While all the veggies are cooking, you are going to be distracted by chicken! and rice! (You could do both of these before if you’d like.) Using the chicken you used to make the stock, shred it up. Really just get in there with a fork (or you clean hands) and rip it up into tasty bite-sized pieces.

In a separate pot, cook your rice. I’m pretty much stuck with Korean sticky rice. So for every one part rice add two parts water and let boil on low heat with the lid half on/half off until the water is gone and the rice is soft. It will take about 20 minutes.

Once the rice is going and the chicken is ready, transfer the mostly cooked veggies to a pot and add the prepared stock. Add the chicken and a drained can of corn. This is also a great time to add additional spices. I threw in another bay leaf and a slice of ginger. Stir all the goodness together. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower heat to a nice simmer and let it work it’s flavor magic for 15 to 20 minutes or until the veggies are soft.

Now for the final Korean kick, put a scoop of rice in a bowl, add the soup, stir and enjoy!