Korean Ramen/Lamyun Instant Noodles (라면)

6 May

My husband loves noodles in general especially ramen.  Here is a quick “For Fun – What We Eat” post from my husband on how to make your instant ramen taste most delicious.

Many grew up eating ramen aka lamyun (라면) at home especially when you were alone or if you didn’t feel like cooking anything. During my college years, I’d buy a box of ramen to share with friends and would often have late night ramen parties trying to cook 8 packs in a single pot all for just 4 hungry guys.  The noodles would often come out “overdone” but they’d always taste delicious.  There is also a HUGE difference between imported ramen and ones you buy and bring back from Asia directly.  Ones in Asia taste so much better because FDA doesn’t regulate those.  You know what that means…

After many years of ramen cooking experience, I have come to realize 3 simple yet critical tips that’ll help your ramen to taste even better.  Hope you enjoy and find them useful.

  • Amount of water is everything. You MUST make sure that you have the right amount of water to ensure that the taste is optimal.  If you like egg in your ramen, you must add slightly more water.  Because every ramen requires a slightly different amount, this will require experience.  You usually gain this during your college years.

 

  • When the water begins to boil, add the soup base FIRST.  This will increase the water temperature by nearly 20 degrees F.  Proven!  Let it boil and then add the flakes/noodles.

 

  • Air your noodles while you’re cooking.  Lift them in and out of the boiling water while you stir.  You will only need 1-1.5 minute max once you drop the noodles in.  This way, your noodle will be cooked “al dente”  

 

Green Onion Salad (파절이)

4 May

What can be “healthy and refreshing” with a Sam gyup sar (grilled pork belly) meal? Soju? Yes, soju is refreshing but it’s not something that Top Chef Korea cooks. Soju is something that Top Chef Korea’s executive dishwasher drinks after a long day. Green Onion Salad is a healthy and refreshing sidedish for Sam gyup sar and many other meat dishes. It saves us from drowning to the bacon fat and redeems us from our own guilty consciousness. Trust me.

 
Difficulty: Easy
Serving Size: 2 people
Total Time: 1.5 hours
Main Ingredients
3-5 stalks of green onions
1/2 onion
1 lettuce leaf

Dressing
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of vinegar (white)
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of water
(optional) 2 teaspoons of chili pepper
(optional) 2 teaspoons of sesame oil

Preparation
Green onions – Shred it thin and long. Rinse in cold water multiple times to remove the slimy stuff. Soak it under cold water for an hour or more to soften its sharp taste. Click here for our posting on Sam Gyup Sar and green onion slicer we got from Korea!
Onion – Using mandolin or food processor, slice it very thin. Rinse in cold water multiple times and soak it for an hour or more to soften its sharp taste.

Lettuce – Rinse in cold water and drain completely. Cut it to bite size.

Dressing – Mix all ingredients. If you want it to be more spicy and red (remember, green onion and onions are already spicy), add chili peppers. You can use Korean chili pepper flakes (goh-choo-gah-roo) or crushed red chili peppers (the one you use for pizza). I personally prefer for the latter for this salad. Sesame oil is also optional.

Cooking
1. Drain green onions and onions completely so that it won’t water down the salad. Use your salad spinner or paper towel to completely remove excess water.
2. Add the dressing and mix everything gently. Serve immediately.

Kimchi Jjigae / Kimchi Stew (김치찌개)

11 Apr

Kimchi jjigae recipe so fun, easy, and tasty that even the executive dishwasher can do it!  Here is a recipe for kimchi jjigae written by the executive dishwasher/my husband, SYB.

Kimchi jjigae is the only Korean food I knew how to cook in college.  I recall being so excited as a first year at UVA going to eat at the dining halls. How can you go wrong with unlimited buffet like OCB (Old Country Buffet) every day? That excitement quickly faded away after just 2 days.  I needed kimchi. I satisfied my craving for kimchi with microwaveable rice and cup ramen noodles. It was glorious. Then one day, I visited some 4th year guy’s apartment and ate kimchi jjigae. Wow, even more glorious! Hit the spot… I knew I had to learn this dish because I heard somewhere that cup ramen was not the most healthy choice. When I asked how he made the kimchi jjigae, he told me it was very simple – water and kimchi. That was the beginning of my kimchi jjigae adventure. Every time I’d make it, I’ll try something here and there to enhance the flavor. In my third year, I learned to add samgyupsar in there and took the kimchi jjigae to a whole new level!

The recipe I’m about to share with you has been refined over time. While I’m no chef, my kimchi jjigae is delicious. Hope you enjoy.

Difficulty: Easy
Serving Size: 2 people
Total Time: 45 minutes

Main Ingredients
¼ pound of pork belly
2 cups of aged Kimchi (older the better)
1 ½  cups of water
Green onion
Tofu
1 tsp of minced garlic
2 tsp of sesame oil
(optional) ¼ onion
(optional) 1 tsp of chili paste (gochujang 고추장) or sugar
(must) lots of love and patience

Preparation / Cooking
1. Chop vegetables and pork belly

2. Start by adding the sesame oil and minced garlic

3. Add pork belly and keep cooking until the pink color is gone

4. If you like a thick and sweet stew, add onions and/or gochujang (both optional)

5. Add Kimchi and cook for about 10 mins. Add water and on low heat, cook for approximately 20+ mins.  Longer the better

6. Add tofu and green onions last and cook for 5 more minutes.  Add sugar as needed for sweeter flavor.  (Used to add Shin ramen soup base here but found out that it was pure MSG and no good)

***Optional***
If you’re not a fan of pork belly, you can use the Korean tuna can.  Half-can would be sufficient.  This would eliminate the need for sesame oil, pork belly, sugar, and gochujang as it would make it sweeter and thicker.

Kimbap (김밥)

5 Apr

Kimbap is a Korean dish made from steamed white rice and various other vegetable and/or meat ingredients rolled in a sheet seaweed paper. Japanese futomaki and sushi rolls share similar concepts, but they are different in that Kimbap does not use sushi rice (no vinegar) and that the ingredients are usually cooked (no raw fish).

Kimbap is considered to be one of the best fast foods available for anyone on-the-go or catering to outdoor events. There are restaurant franchise specializing in such Kimbap and can come in all forms and shapes. You can roll pretty much anything in Kimbap including Kimchi, tuna, and bulgogi, cheese and the list goes on. Growing up in Korea, Kimbap has been one of the classic “to-go” foods for all ages. If you grew up with Koreans, you will have most likely tried some form of Kimbap.

Key characteristics of successful Kimbap:
– Kimbap stays tight and stable, not falling off or seaweed paper peeling off.
– Yummy ingredients are nicely located in the center, not running away toward the edge.
– Each ingredient, including rice, is seasoned.

Difficulty: Intermediate
Serving Size: 2 people
Total Time: 30 minutes

Main Ingredients
2 cups of white rice
5 sheets of seaweed paper a.k.a. nori (kim 김)
1 bundle of spinach
5 sticks of imitation crab meat
5 strips of pickled daikon radish a.k.a. takuan (dahn-moo-jee 단무지)
3 eggs
½ carrot

Rice Seasoning
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of salt

Preparation / Cooking
Rice – Make steamed rice with less than normal amount of water (~95%) and keep it warm in the rice cooker until we’re ready to roll. While rice is cooking, make the rest of the ingredients ready.

Spinach – Blanch in boiling salt water for 10 seconds. Rinse with cold water and drain.

Carrot – Julienne thinly and stir-fry in hot pan with vegetable oil. Add 2 pinch of salt.

Egg – Beat eggs and season with 2 pinch of salt. Heat the pan, add vegetable oil and wipe out the excess oil from the pan with paper towel. Lower the heat and add the egg mixture to cover the whole pan. It’ll be easier to use a small pan to make the thick layer. Otherwise, carefully roll the egg layer from one end to the other end to make a thick layer.

Imitation crab meat – Grill on the pan for a couple of minutes.

Picked radish – Mine was already cut for Kimbap purpose, but if yours is not, cut it to long strips.

Rolling
1. Transfer rice into a large bowl. Season with the sesame oil, salt and sesame seeds. Gently mix the rice to season evenly and also to let the steam out. Leave the rice to cool off for about 5-10 minutes. Rice should be warm but not steaming hot because the hot steam may break the seaweed paper.

2. Cover the bamboo mat with plastic wrap. I learned this from my mother, and it really helps!

3. Spread rice on the seaweed paper to fill about 2/3. According to your preference, spread rice thinly or thickly. Mine was relatively thin, about stacking 3 grains of rice.

4. Stack the ingredients in the lower part. Do not spread them around but put them tightly close to each other.

5. Start rolling slowly. Occasionally press and squeeze to keep the shape tight. Repeat the roll-press-roll-press process. When you reach toward the end, wet the edge of the seaweed paper to create “glue.”

6. Apply sesame oil on the surface. Cut Kimbap with very sharp knife (to me, Kimbap making day = knife sharpening day) and apply sesame oil to your knife blade. Make it 1/3-1/4 inch thick, or whatever fits your mouth – yummy yum.

Samgyupsar (삼겹살)

30 Mar

This is our first post sharing our dinner meal. My husband’s favorite, Samgyupsar (삼겹살)!

Samgyupsar is pork belly meat that is usually cut thick and grilled without any marinade.  Dip samgyupsar in sesame oil dipping sauce, add grilled kimchi, grilled garlic, green onions/sliced onion salad and wrap it in lettuce or perilla leaves. Your mouth will thank you.

Our samgyupsar dinner items:

  • Samgyupsar
  • Lettuce
  • Sesame oil dipping sauce
  • Green onion and raw onion salad (Husband claims it’ll blow any restaurant quality away!)
  • Dwenjang Jjigae
  • Grilled kimchi (Grilled with samgyupsar thus using pork belly oil)
  • Rice
  • Soju
  • Beer

This is an amazing green onion slicer we got from Korea.  Works like magic!

Japchae (잡채)

25 Mar

If you haven’t guessed yet, we are a fan of the TV show Top Chef on Bravo TV. We have been completely devoted to this season of All Star and have been cheering for Richard Blais. We admire his passion for food, seriousness, integrity, creativity and scientific approach, and we really hope that he’ll make it next week in the finale! With that said, we also make clear that Top Chef Korea has no affiliation with the TV show or Bravo TV or any related entities.

Jap Chae is one of the most basic, traditional Korean foods. I thought about how Richard Blais might spin this off to a modern dish, but would he be able to really use liquid nitrogen to freeze some of the ingredients? Perhaps he could use the raw sweet potato to make the starch noodle from scratch? Or somehow slice it to create the “al dente” pasta??

In fact, perfecting the noodle is the crucial mission for Jap Chae. You gotta make it al dente, glassy and tingly. My mother taught me the secret: 1) use 100% sweet potato starch noodle and 2) do not rinse the cooked noodle in cold water. Normally for other noodle dishes, you should cook noodles in the boiling water and then rinse it under icy cold water to stop them from becoming soggy. That way, the noodles will remain chewy in your hot broth. However, for Jap Chae, we will coat sesame oil to each strand of noodle as quickly as possible. Just like how you would do for spaghetti noodles. Easy, right?

Other tips are similar to the fried rice. Stir fry each ingredients separately to respect their own time for cooking. You can add or deduct vegetables as you wish.

…Go Richard! Fighting!

Difficulty: Intermediate
Serving Size: 2 people
Total Time: 20 minutes prep time + 30 minutes cooking time

Main Ingredients
200 gram sweet potato starch noodle (dang myeon 당면)
100 gram beef brisket
1/2 onion
1/2 carrot
5 shitake mushrooms – dried or fresh
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
1 bunch of spinach
1 bunch of leek (boo-choo 부추)
salt, pepper, vegetable oil

Marinade: Meat
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of soju or cooking wine
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper

Seasoning: Noodle
3 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoon of sesame oil

Preparation
Shitake mushrooms – If dried, soak under water for 10 minutes. When fully rehydrated, squeeze out water. Slice into thin pieces.

Brisket – Slice into thin, 2-inch pieces. Add marinade and sit for 10+ minutes.

Spinach – In boiling water, add some salt and blanch quickly (10 seconds). Rinse them with cold water and drain well. Cut into 2 inches.

Onion, Bell peppers, Carrots – Julienne and keep them separate because we’re going to cook them separately.

Leek – Cut them into 2 inches.

Cooking
1.In a large pot, boil a generous amount of water. Cook noodles in the boiling water for 5 minutes and stir occasionally. When noodles are soft, drain hot water and transfer noodles into the frying pan. Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and stir. Heat up the pan and stir-fry for 1 minute. We are coating each strand of noodle to prevent further cooking and getting soggy/sad.

2. Transfer noodles into a large bowl. We’re going to add the finished ingredients into this bowl one by one.

3. For spinach, make sure water is drained well (or squeeze it out with hands) and add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. Mix well and transfer to the large bowl with noodles.

4. Put high heat on the frying pan and add vegetable oil. Stir-fry the remaining vegetables (except spinach) and meat one by one, separately. Each ingredient requires different cooking time. Add salt and pepper to each of them as you stir-fry. Order is not important, but I did: onions > carrot > bell peppers > mushrooms > leek > brisket. Transfer the finished ingredients to the large bowl with noodles and allow them cool down a little.

5. After everything has been cooked and assembled in the large bowl, add seasoning (soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil) and mix them altogether. Your hands will be most effective – wear some gloves.

6. Serve with Kimchi and enjoy!

Samgyetang (삼계탕 蔘鷄湯)

14 Mar

Chicken Ginseng Soup nourishes your body and soul. Koreans eat this dish in the beginning of summer to prepare for the hot weather. According to my mom, you gotta eat hot food (temperature. not spicy) to win over the hot weather. My friend Drew understands this wisdom and has requested recipe. We share a special memory of struggling to lift a bigger bird (turkey) to celebrate the Thanksgiving in a foreign land.

Speaking of turkey, I once heard a real life story of someone trying to cook Sam-gye-tang with a turkey…. Without going into details, I advise you not to attempt. Turkey is known for its “lean” meat. Have you ever heard of Turkey stock/broth? LOL

I used to be scared of cooking the whole chicken, but trust me, this is not so bad. First of all, we’re dealing with the “Cornish hen” which is half size of a normal chicken. Secondly, most of the dirty job is already done for you when you buy one in the supermarket – you’ll never see the giblets (gizzards and internal organs). Those are nicely wrapped in a plastic or paper bag inside the chicken’s tummy, which you can pull out and throw away. Or sometimes the bag of giblets could be entirely missing. When I first bought the whole chicken, I was looking for the bag for hours until I read the package label that said in bolded letters “giblets may be missing.” Regardless, if you’re still worried, try with a few drumsticks first. It should come out to be close enough :)

As long as you get down handling of the chicken, the rest of cooking straightforward. Garlic, ginseng, date and ginger are used to remove the “chicken odor” that I was talking about the other day (Spicy Chicken Stew). I love all of above herbs, but my hubby like it without ginseng, and you can adjust the ingredients according to your preference as well.

Difficulty: Advanced
Serving Size: 1 person
Total Time: 1 hour prep time + 40 minutes cooking time

Main Ingredients
1 Cornish hen
½ cup of sweet rice (short glutinous rice)
10 cloves of garlic (or 1 entire bulb)
2 ginseng root (dried or fresh) (in-sahm 인삼)
2 chestnuts (dried or fresh)
6 dried dates (dae-choo 대추)
1 stalk of green onions
Salt, Pepper

Broth
dried Kalopanax bark (Eom-namu 엄나무)
dried Astragalus herb (Hwang-gee 황기)
dried Siberian Ginseng herb (Ogamok 오가목)
Or,
dried kelp (dah-shi-ma 다시마)

Preparation
Sweet rice – Rinse with cold water and soak under cold water for an hour.

Chestnuts – If you’re using dried chestnut like me, soak them with sweet rice. If using fresh ones, just clean and peel off the skins.

Garlic – I use the whole cloves. Remove skins and cut off the top.

Broth – More traditional and medically beneficial way is to use these dried herbs. Clean, add 4 cups of water, boil in a medium heat for 20+ minutes. If you’re using dried ginseng roots, add here and boil them together.

Most Korean supermarkets (like H-Mart and Lotte) sell these in a package shown in the picture above (this package says “baek-sook” in Korean which is another word for sam-gye-tang but the English translation in the package says “Dried Chinese Herb”).

Kalopanax Bark is beneficial for arthritis and also has anti-inflammatory effects. Astragalus is an immune system booster, and Siberian Ginseng improves vitality.

Alternatively, if you don’t have these herbs, you can use Dashi broth (using dried kelp) or just water.

Cornish Hen Prep
a. First, thaw the frozen chicken and then clean with cold water
b. Remove giblets in a bag inside the chicken’s tummy
c. Chop off the wings (picture with scissors) and tail (picture with scissors pointing). Tail has the most amount of fat.
d. Remove skin
e. Stuff loosely 3 table spoons of sweet rice (after soaked in water for an hour), 3-4 garlic cloves, 2 dates and 2 chestnuts. Do not stuff too much and leave some room
f. Close the tummy entrance with toothpick, and cross and secure the legs with toothpick as well. You can use other means.. like silicon band or thread.

Cooking
1. Transfer the prepared chicken into a thick pot (I use clay pot. Preferably, use a pot that retains heat well like casting iron pot). Add the remaining sweet rice, ginseng, garlic cloves, and dates.

2. Add broth (herb broth, dashi broth or water) to almost cover the whole chicken. The entire chicken does not have to submerge under broth.

3. Boil in a high heat for 15 minutes. Remove fat scum and foams as necessary. Then lower the heat to medium for another 30-40 minutes. Stir the bottom of pot gently to prevent the rice to stick to the bottom. You may need to add water if the broth gets reduced too much.

4. Garnish with green onions and serve with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

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