Kimbap

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I like to think of kimbap as maki sushi’s lesser-known cousin. There’s rice and there’s seaweed, but the fillings are completely different and the rice in kimbap is seasoned with sesame oil, as opposed to vinegar.

Kimbap is a perfect picnic food: easy (albeit time-consuming) to assemble head of time, tastes delicious at room temperature, and it’s healthy to boot. You can be flexible with the fillings: if you don’t like carrots, don’t add carrots. If you really like spinach, add some extra. Me? I’m all about that pickled radish.

Kimbap

Ingredients:
4 cups freshly cooked short grain white rice
salt
3 teaspoons sesame oil
3 eggs
vegetable oil
8 ounces ground beef
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound spinach, blanched in boiling water for 1 minute, rinsed and squeezed dry, and coarsely chopped
6 sticks of imitation crab
6 sheets of nori seaweed
1 yellow pickled radish, cut into thin strips

1. Transfer the warm cooked rice to a large bowl and stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon sesame oil.

2. Beat the eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt in another bowl. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Turn the heat to low and pour the beaten eggs into the skillet, tilting so that the eggs cover the bottom evenly. Cook until set but not browned, about 1 minute. Flip the egg sheet over, cook for another minute, and remove from heat. Transfer eggs to a cutting board to cool and cut into 1/2-inch strips.

3. Combine the beff, soy sauce, 3/4 of the garlic, brown sugar, pepper, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a bowl. Heat a skillet over high heat. Add the beef and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned. Remove from heat and let cool.

4. Mix the cooked spinach with 1/2 teaspoon salt, the remaining garlic, and the remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a bowl.

5. Heat half a teaspoon of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the crab sticks and cook for about 1 minute, then flip them over and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

6. Divide the rice into 6 portions and place a nori sheet on a bamboo mat, shiny side down. Spread 1 portion of rice evenly over the nori, leaving a 2-inch border at the top. Spread 1/4 cup of the beef mixture in a thin strip across the middle of the rice. Press it down with a spoon so it stays in place. Put one sixth of the spinach, a crab stick, a few egg strips, and a radish strip on top of the beef. Pick up the bottom edge of the mat and use it to roll the seaweed up and over the fillings, then continue rolling up the seaweed, using the mat, until you have a neat roll. Remove the roll from the mat and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 5 more rolls. Arrange on a plate and serve at room temperature.

King Oyster Mushrooms with Broccoli

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And just like that, Thanksgiving is over. It’s time to atone for this year’s gluttony so I’m seeking out vegetables and greens in every meal this week. Mushrooms are in season and king oyster mushrooms in particular are my craving at the moment. King oyster mushrooms are readily available at Asian grocers and are worth seeking out for their meaty, velvety texture. Feel free to substitute with shiitake or even portobello mushrooms, if you prefer.

Tossed with crisp-tender broccoli, this side dish is autumn on a platter. Pumpkin spice flavored everything has nothing on this.

King oyster mushrooms and broccoli

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 cups broccoli florets
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 quarter sized slices ginger, crushed
1 pound king oyster mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water

1. Stir the chicken broth, water, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a bowl to combine.

2. To prepare the broccoli, bring a medium pot filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli and cook until bright green and tender-crisp, about 1 minute. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again.

3. Place a wok over high heat. Add the oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry until they begin to slightly brown, about 3 minutes. Add the sauce and stir to coat. Cover and cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 7 minutes. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook, until the sauce boils and thickens slightly.

4. Arrange the broccoli in the center of a serving platter and arrange the mushrooms around it. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and serve.

Noodle Soup in Anchovy Broth

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On a scale of one to infinity, how ridiculous is it to be excited at the prospect of soup weather? Rainy season is here and with it comes an excuse to cook soup and after soup after soup. I’ve been craving this simple, umami-laden, and slightly spicy Korean noodle soup to warm me up as I adjust to foggy mornings and freezing nights. (Well, freezing for California. Don’t judge.)

Noodle soup in anchovy broth

Ingredients:

8 ounces Korean radish or daikon, cut into 1-2 inch slices
1 onion, sliced
20 large dried anchovies, heads and guts removed
1 7×10 inch piece dried kelp
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 pieces packaged fried tofu, sliced into strips
salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
8 ounces somen (somyeon) noodles
2 green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons gochugaru (Korean hot pepper)
2 sheets nori seaweed, toasted and crushed

1. Make the anchovy broth: combine 3 quarts water, radish, and onion in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes. Add the anchovies and kelp and cook for 20 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat, strain the stock into another saucepan, and stir in 2 teaspoons salt. Set aside.

2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil, garlic, fried tofu strips, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until the garlic is crisp and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and sesame oil and stir for another minute to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles, stirring so that they don’t stick to each other. Cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the noodles, rinse with cold water, and drain again.

4. Divide the noodles between two soup bowls.

5. Heat the anchovy broth until hot, then pour over the noodles. Add half the tofu strips, green onions, gochugaru, crushed nori, and a few drops of sesame oil to each bowl. Serve hot.

Sweet and Spicy Fried Catfish

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I’m going to be honest here: this dish isn’t healthy. Sorry, y’all. This is a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth fish that’s shallow fried and drizzled with a spicy sauce that has, you know, sugar.

But it’s delicious. And while it’s important to eat healthily, what is life if not occasionally indulgent? So in the wise words of Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle, go ahead and treat yo’self. Serve it with rice and vinegared vegetables to tone down the guilt factor.

Sweet and spicy fried catfish

Ingredients:

1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger plus 4 quarter-sized slices peeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pounds catfish fillets
1 egg
1 cup cornstarch, dry, plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspons water
vegetable oil for shallow frying
1 green onion, thinly sliced

1. Prepare the sauce: mix the chicken broth, soy sauce, sugar, chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, minced ginger, salt, and pepper together in a bowl and set aside.

2. Remove bones and skin from the catfish and cut into 4 pieces. Pat dry.

3. Beat the egg in a shallow bowl. Spread the cup of cornstarch in another shallow bowl. Dust each piece of the fish with the cornstarch and then dip in the beaten egg to coat the fish. Return the fish to the cornstarch and coat evenly. Set on a separate plate or rack.

4. Place a wide deep pan over medium heat and pour in oil to a depth of 1/4 inch. When the oil shimmers, add the ginger slices and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Slide the fish into the oil and fry, turning once, until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

5. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the pan. Place the pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, pour in the sauce and bring to a boil. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, about 30 seconds.

6. Spoon the sauce over the fish, scatter with the green onion, and serve.

Sichuan Boiled Dumplings in Chili Oil

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“Nothing worth having comes easy,” a wise person once said. I’m pretty sure they were talking about these dumplings.

Spicy, garlicy, and out-of-this-world delicious, these meat-filled dumplings are one of my favorite things to cook and eat. They’re also time consuming to make, but I promise you they’ll be worth it when you find yourself wondering if it’s okay to lick your plate. (Yes. Yes, it is.)

Sichuan boiled dumplings in chili oil

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey or chicken
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 dried shiitake mushroom, soaked until softened, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
30 round dumpling wrappers
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons hot bean paste
1 tablespoon hot chile oil

1. For the filling, combine the turkey, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1/3 of the green onion, mushroom, 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, and 1/3 cup water in a bowl. Mix well and freeze for half an hour to firm the mixture to make it easier to handle.

2. Dissolve the cornstarch in 3 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl to make a thin paste. Moisten the edges of a dumpling wrapper by dipping your finger into the paste and running it over the edge of the wrapper. Place about a teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Bring the edges of the wrapper up to meet at the top of the filling and pinch them closed, squeezing the dough. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.

3. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the dumplings and cook until the filling is cooked through and the dumplings are floating on top of the water, about 4 minutes.

4. While the dumplings are cooking, make the sauce: heat a wok over high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the remaining green onions, garlic, and black pepper. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and add the sugar, vinegar, hot bean paste, remaining tablespoon soy sauce, remaining teaspoon sesame oil, and hot chili oil. Mix well.

5. Drain the dumplings in a colander. Place the dumplings in a serving bowl and pour the sauce over. Serve warm.