Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dotorimuk... Acorn "Tofu" with Sesame, Soy Sauce Dressing

Dotori (acorn in Korean) is a popular Korean ingredient. With no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, it's also pretty good for you. It comes in various forms including jelly (like tofu), noodles (like soba noodles) and strips. Most Asian stores sell the variety.

Umma's Dotorimuk with Sesame, Soy Sauce Dressing is an easy side dish for any Korean meal.

Koreans use soy sauce like Americans use ketchup and mustard. We put it on everything. My mom used to take a small bottle of it with her whenever we went out to eat and drizzled it on whatever she ordered. We’d go out to a steak house and she’d slyly take out her bottle, pour some on her steak or rice pilaf and sneak it back into her purse. Since most restaurants have soy sauce these days, she’s retired the bottle. This soy sauce mixture is versatile. You can pour it on grilled zucchini, tofu, egg plants or any of your favorite vegetables. My mom's favorites for this condiment are tofu, zucchini and acorn jelly.

This is the recipe for acorn jelly with soy sauce, sesame dressing. Umma's Dotori (acorn) Muk (jelly) is topped with sesame, soy sauce dressing, cucumbers and nori. 

Happy eating!
  • 1 Carton acorn jelly, sliced into squares (found in Asian markets like HMart)
  • 1/2 Cup soy sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons kochu-garu (Korean red pepper powder)
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 Korean green pepper, chopped
  • 2 Stalks scallions, chopped
  • 1 Cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 Red finger pepper, diagonally sliced
  • 3 Sheets of nori (seaweed), crumbled 
  • 4 Red lettuce leaves, cut in large pieces

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, sugar, kochu garu and sesame seeds. Fold in the red peppers and scallions. 

In medium-size bowl, place the acorn jelly squares. Top with cucumbers, lettuce and sesame, soy sauce dressing. Toss until combined. Top with nori. 

Serve with rice and other bon chan (Korean side dishes).

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Umma’s Mul Nang Myeon with the Works

Two pics of mul nang myeon... the first pic has sugar sprinkled on top.

Mul nang myeon (mul means water, nang means cold and myeon are the noodles in Korean) is a cold broth-based buckwheat noodle dish that originated in the northern part of Korea and was
traditionally served in the winter.

The broth is served ice cold and most people even add more ice. This is a tangy dish brimming with garlic, red pepper, and cucumbers. It’s refreshing and great on a hot summer day.

It is traditionally served with kalbi, making it a perfect for your summertime barbecue menu. If you’re looking for a unique barbeque idea, serve mul naeng myeon and kalbi at your next cookout.

Nang myeon can also be made without the broth. See the recipe for Umma’s Set Your Lips on Fire Bi Bim Naeng Myeon (bi bim means mixed in Korean).

  • 1 Bag of buckwheat noodles
  • Chicken broth
  • Distilled vinegar
  • Young radish kimchi juice
  • Tablespoons dark sesame seed oil (depending on if you like sesame seed oil)
  • Tablespoons white sugar   
  • Pound flank steak
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Ginger, grated
  • Cloves garlic, minced
  • Medium onion, diced
  • Scallions, chopped
  • Sesame seeds
  • Cucumbers sliced into thick matchsticks 
  • Asian pear, peeled and sliced
  • Kochu garu (Korean red pepper powder)

Noodles Directions
1 Bag of buckwheat noodles (Soup base and wasabi oil are included in the noodles package)
Cook the noodles as directed. When the water starts foaming and rising up, grab a handful of ice and throw it in the pot. It will keep the water from boiling over. I like my noodles al dente and cook them for only about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the noodles in ice-cold water immediately until the noodles are completely cooled. These noodles cook quickly and get mushy easily.

Separate the noodles by rolling them into four equal batches. Set aside.

Soup Base Directions
  • 32 Ounce chicken broth
  • 3 Cups water
  • Packets of the soup base (You will need all the packets that come with the noodles.)
  • 2 Teaspoons distilled vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup young radish kimchi juice
  • 3 Tablespoons dark sesame seed oil
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar   
In a large pot, bring chicken broth and 3 cups water to a boil. Let it simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off heat and let it completely cool. Once it's cool, add the packets of the soup base. Add the vinegar, kimchi juice, sesame seed oil, sugar and the wasabi oil, which is included in the noodles. Add the ingredients a bit a time, tasting after adding each to suit your taste.  Whisk until the sugar and soup base have dissolved. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Meat Directions
  • 1 Pound flank steak, cut into cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons dark sesame seed oil (Use only 1 tablespoon if you don't like sesame oil.)
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon white sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 6 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Medium onion, diced
  • 4 Scallions, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
Whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and ginger. Set aside.

On medium heat, sauté the garlic and onions in sesame seed oil until onion is opaque. Add steak and sauté until the meat is no longer pink. Drain any excess liquid. Add the soy sauce mixture and cook for 5 minutes. Add scallions and stir until combined. Top with sesame seeds. Set aside.

Cucumbers Directions
  • 5 Cucumbers sliced into thick matchsticks 
  • 1/4 Cup salt
  • 4 Garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1Tablespoon dark sesame seed oil
  • 3 Tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons distilled vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup kochu garu (Korean red pepper powder)
  • 3 Scallions, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
In a mixing bowl, add cucumbers and sprinkle with salt. Toss until thoroughly coated. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Rinse the cucumbers in cold water at least three times. Grab a handful of cucumbers and squeeze as hard as you can to get all of the water out. You don’t want watery cucumbers.

In the same mixing bowl, whisk the garlic, sesame seed oil, sugar and vinegar. Add the cucumbers, scallions and kochu garu. Mix until thoroughly combined and the kochu garu is pasty. I usually put on disposable a polyethylene plastic glove and use my hand to mix the cucumbers. You want the mixture to be completely absorbed by the cucumbers. Set aside.

  • Radish kimchi, thinly sliced (Some radish kimchi comes pre-sliced)    
  • Asian pear, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Hard boiled eggs, halved
Putting It All Together
In four large bowls, add the noodles. Ladle the broth over the noodles. Top with meat, cucumbers, radishes and half of an egg. Add 2-4 ice cubes if you want it cold.

Serves 4 normally but in our family, we don’t understand the concept of dainty portions and this will feed only two of us.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Nadya’s Lemon, Garlic Lips-Puckering Salad

All of the Lebanese recipes on my blog are from my ex mother-in-law, including Nadya's Lemon, Garlic Salad. While this salad is not Lebanese, it does have a Mediterranean flare.

Nadya comes from a big family with a rich history and beautiful traditions. When Nana and Baba were alive, the family gathered every Sunday to cook together using recipes that have been in the family for generations. Nadya’s Lebanese dishes are what I imagine I would find in the local hot spots of Beirut when it was known as the Paris of the Middle East.

Nadya serves this salad with just about everything from shish tarok grilled chicken to loubia b'zeit. The robust flavor of the garlic complemented by the tang of the lemon makes this a wonderfully zesty starter.

Happy eating!

  • 1 Bunch leafy lettuce (I usually use red leaf.)
  • 2 Garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 Scallions, chopped
  • 1 Red onion, sliced
  • 1 Cucumber, large cubes
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, large cubes
  • 1 Carrot, sliced
  • 1 Cup Kalamata olives
  • 2 Tablespoons capers
  • 6-10 Whole pickled banana peppers (You can also you pickled pre-sliced peppers.)
  • 1 Cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 Cup fresh basil, chopped in big pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 1/4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Cup feta cheese
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Teaspoon black pepper
Note: Don't over-chop the herbs. You want to recognize it. 

In a screw-top jar, add the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Shake vigorously.

In a salad bowl or a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Drizzle the balsamic mixture and lemon juice on top. Toss thoroughly. Crumble the feta cheese on top and serve. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Jja Jjang Myeon Korean Noodles with Black Bean Sauce... the Veggie Version

As kids, we used to twirl, jump and clap wildly when my parents made jja jang myeon. Who am I kidding? We still do that.

The last time I visited Korea, we had jjajang myeon delivered. A guy on a bike had a giant tin box strapped to the back of the bike. He slid open the front of the box and pulled out six steaming bowls of this goodness. The delivery has not changed since I was a kid. I felt like twirling again. Only if I had on my dress that flared like a tulip when I twirled...

While I don’t make the handmade noodles as my parents did,  I was finally able to get the sauce to that twirl-worthy level. Hope you’ll try this family recipe and let me know if you’re twirling.

Happy eating!

  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 Cups firm tofu, diced
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, diced
  • 1 Medium-sized red onion, diced
  • 1 Large carrot, diced 
  • 1 Cup radish, diced
  • 2 Cups cabbage, chopped
  • 1 Zucchini, diced 
  • 1/4 to 1/3 Cup jjajang paste (Korean black bean paste. Jjajang is powerful. If you’re not familiar with the taste, go easy. If you’ve been there, done that, 1/4 cup may be too bland.)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3-5 Cups water (Just enough to submerge all ingredients plus 1/4 cup for cornstarch mixture)
  • 1-2 Tablespoon(s) cornstarch (Depending on how much water you had to add. You want a deep chocolate color and thick, silky consistency.)
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons black pepper 
  • 4 Stalks scallions, sliced
  • 1 Cucumber, julienned (Topping Option)
  • ½ Cup of yellow onions, thinly sliced (Topping Option)
  • 1 Cup of daikon, sliced (Topping Option)
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar (Optional)
1 Package jjajang noodles (You can find these noodles in the refrigerated section at an international or Korean market)

In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons and 1/3 cup water. Stir until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Set aside.

  1. Heat large skillet or wok on medium heat. Add sesame seed oil and onion, and stir until onion is soft, about 30 seconds. 
  2. Add tofu. Season with salt and black pepper.  Stir until tofu is golden brown.
  3. Add garlic and potatoes. Sautee for 2-3minutes. If necessary, add 2-3 tablespoons water to deglaze the skillet. 
  4. Add the remaining vegetables. Season with the rest of the black pepper. Saute for about 3-5 minutes, continuing to add 1-2 tablespoons of water to deglaze the skillet.
  5. In the meantime, heat a saucepan on medium heat. Add vegetable oil and jja jjang (black bean sauce). Stirring frequently, heat the sauce until it thins slightly. Drain any extra oil or liquid. 
  6. Stir in the heated jja jjang to the pork and vegetable mixture. Make sure it’s thoroughly combined. Saute for about 2 minutes. 
  7. Add enough water to submerge the mixture completely. Add sugar and mix. Bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 3 minutes. 
  8. Add the cornstarch mixture, mix thoroughly and let it simmer until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, while continuing to stir. 
  9. Add the sliced scallions, leaving about a 1/2 cup of the green parts for garnish. Give it one final stir. 

While the sauce is in the last simmering stage, cook the noodles according to directions. These noodles cook quickly, about 2-3 minutes.

If serving with onions and daikon, in separate serving bowls or plates, layer the onion ringlets and daikon slices and drizzle rice vinegar over the onions and daikon.

Putting It All Together
In a large bowl, add the noodles, scoop in sauce, garnish with cucumbers and scallions. Serve with onions and daikon. I always have kimchi on hand so that’s served with all things Korean.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Chicken Bul Go Gi... It's a wrap

I pledged no more pork, beef, chicken... without knowing the source. I no longer want to contribute to the suffering of animals. As I continue to research for options, I found some resources to help me learn more about humane and eco farming:
I found a farm that raises free-range chickens, and luckily, they sell their products at a local farmers market. When I can, I stop by on Thursdays to pick up a pound of chicken for quick week night meals. It's usually chicken and veggie stir fry. When I have time to marinate and grill, it's always the Korean version... with garlic, onions, soy sauce, etc.

Here is the recipe for chicken bulgogi. Serve it with rice or as wraps. 

Happy eating!

  • 1 Pound chicken breast and or thigh, cut into 2-inch strips
  • 1/4 Cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 Cup sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of soy sauce
  • 1/2 Cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seed oil 
  • 8 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Large onion, sliced
  • 1/4 Cup sesame seed
  • 1 Bunch scallions biased cut
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame seed oil, and garlic.

In a one-gallon Ziploc bag or large glass bowl with a lid add the onions, scallions and chicken breasts. Pour in the sauce mixture. Toss or massage, if you’re using a Ziploc bag, until thoroughly coated. Add sesame seeds.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

If grilling on an outdoor grill, lay aluminum foil over the grill and puncture holes. Heat grill to high. I use a tabletop grill. Grill on one side for 4-5 minutes and turn and grill for another 4-5 minutes. The timing depends on the thickness of the meat.

Sesame Ginger Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 Cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 Cup canola oil 
  • 3 Tablespoon water
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 3 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Directions: Add all ingredients in jar with a lid. Shake vigorously until all ingredients are combined and sauce is smooth. Or, add all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Mango and Jicama Salsa
  • 4 Large ripe mangoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 Cup jicama, diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1 Medium red onion, diced
  • 6 Cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Juice from two limes
  • 2 Tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 Cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 Teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 Teaspoons ground pepper
Directions: Add all ingredients in a medium-size bowl and fold until combined.    

  • Cabbage kimchi, chopped
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced jalapeno peppers
  • Thinly sliced red onions
  • Cucumbers, cut into matchsticks

Miso Paste
  • 1/2 Cup light miso
  • 1 Tablespoon kochu jahng (Korean red pepper paste)
  • 5 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of sugar

Putting It All Together
Serve with rice, red leaf lettuce, kimchi, miso paste, salsa and pickled radish (white, radishes julienned). Add a tablespoon of rice and layer it with kimchi, radish, grilled chicken and miso paste on the lettuce. Fold like a wrap and enjoy.

For a non-traditional fare, serve it with grilled flour tortilla. Wrap it as you would with the lettuce and pile on the radish, kimchi and miso.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Spicy Tuna, Kimchi Kim Bop

Kim bop was always on mom's party menu. When I was a kid, mom would give me an entire roll to keep me quiet and out of the way as she jetted around the kitchen preparing for the party. She could have been a Chopped champion.

This is not the traditional kim bop, and it's the quick version. Rather than making a separate tuna topping and layering it over the rice, I just combine the tuna and the rice.

It's still super tasty, and finger foody... making it perfect for picnics.

Happy eating!

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 Eggs, fried and julienned
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 Packet of nori sheets (Uncut, unflavored and not roasted)
  • 3 Cups white rice
  • 1 Can tuna in water
  • 2 Teaspoons of mirin (Japanese rice wine)
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seed oil
  • 2 Tablespoons kochu jang (Korean red pepper paste)
  • 2 Cups kimchi, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 Cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 Cups shredded red leaf lettuce
  • 1 Cup pickled ginger
  • 1 Avocado, cut into matchsticks

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and black pepper. Add oil to a skillet and fry the eggs. Cut the eggs into strips. Set aside.

Drain the tuna. In a medium-size bowl, add rice and tuna. Drizzle mirin, sesame seed oil, and kochu jang. Mix until combined. Add kimchi and sesame seeds. Combine by folding. Make sure the kimchi and sesame seeds are combined.

Rolling the Kim Bop (Kim Bap)
Rolling kim bop is the same as rolling sushi.
  • In a bowl large enough to dunk your fingers fill it with warm water. Set the bowl next to your work station.
  • Place a nori sheet, shiny side down, on top of the sushi rolling mat.
  • Wet your fingers.
  • Using your fingers, evenly and thinly spread about the rice mixture across the nori. Wet your fingers as necessary so that the rice doesn’t stick to them.  
  • Layer cucumber sticks, egg strips, ginger and lettuce.  
  • Grab the left and right edges of the mat with your thumb, index and middle fingers.
  • Fold a 1/4-inch of the mat and nori over the top. Push down gently with your palm.
  • Using the mat, slightly push down as you roll it away from you.
  • Once the kim bop is rolled and the mat is still wrapped around the kim bop, gently squeeze it to make sure it’s sealed.
  • Wet a sharp knife and cut the roll in half. Repeat until you get it to the size you want.

I usually cut it 1/4-inch thick to serve as hors d’oeuvres. If I’m eating it by myself, I don’t bother cutting it. I just grab the roll and start noshing.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Lettuce Wraps... MacGyver style

My mom is the MacGyver of kitchens and gardens. For those who do not know what a MacGyver is, here's the IMDb page that explains it all.

From re-using meat styrofoam trays for freezing dumplings to using plastic bottles for drip irrigation in her garden, she knows 101 ways to re-use just about any item (see below for styrofoam and plastic bottle tips).

She also comes up with genius substitutes for ingredients and dishes. Her Tabasco, garlic, onions, scallions, carrots and iceberg lettuce kimchi was always a big hit when we ran low on the real thing.

We were also eating lettuce wraps decades before it became a hot item on menus of Asian restaurants across the U.S.

Bulgogi (Korean marinated beef) is typically served with rice, ban chan (side dishes), lettuce, slivers of grilled garlic and grilled mushrooms. The beef is wrapped in the lettuce and topped with garlic, mushrooms, kimchi, etc. When mom wanted something fast without having to slice and marinate the beef, she used ground meat. Mom's shortcut is what we know now as lettuce wraps.

Here is the recipe for lettuce wraps.

Happy eating!

1 Bunch red leaf lettuce
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 Cup hoisin sauce
1 Teaspoon fish sauce
2 Teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 Tablespoon crushed red peppers
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon Asian chile pepper sauce
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
5 Cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 Large onion, finely chopped
1/2 Cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 Pound lean ground meat (pork, beef, turkey)
1 Korean red pepper, chopped
1 Cup sliced mushrooms
4 Scallions, 2 stalks chopped; 2 stalks shredded
2 Teaspoons dark sesame seed oil
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 Teaspoon salt

2 Medium carrots, matchsticks
1 Large cucumber, matchsticks
2 Cups mung bean sprouts, trimmed and cleaned
2 Scallions, shredded
Rinse lettuce leaves and pat dry. Set aside.

Whisk together the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, ginger, crushed red peppers, vinegar, sugar and Asian chile pepper sauce. Set aside.

  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat add a tablespoon of oil and the ground meat. Cook until it starts to brown, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Drain excess liquid. 
  2. Add the onions and red bell pepper and sauté until softened. 
  3. Add garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Sprinkle black pepper powder and salt. Mix until combined. 
  5. Add mushrooms and stir until combined. 
  6. Add soy sauce mixture and cook for another 3 minutes. 
  7. Stir in chopped scallions and sesame seed oil, and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.

Putting It All Together
To serve, arrange the meat, lettuce and the toppings on a platter. Allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat, top with carrots, cucumbers and scallions. Serve with rice.

Styrofoam Meat Trays
After careful washing, my mom re-uses meat styrofoam trays to freeze food items such as mandu before storing them in Ziplocs. If you stuff homemade, unfrozen mandu in a Ziploc to freeze, they will stick together and freeze in one big lump. The styrofoam trays work beautifully to pre-freeze mandu. They're small, stackable and easily fit in the freezer... and the mandu doesn't stick to them.

Plastic Bottle Irrigation
With a large nail or some other pointy item such as a knitting needle, poke one hole on the bottom and 3 or 4 holes on the sides (lower half) of a large plastic bottle ie soda bottle. Stick it right side up into a large planter. You want the bottle buried half-way into the dirt. Add water and screw on the bottle cap. That's it! Now, you have a drip irrigation system.

Pass the Dish

Bookmark and Share


Bookmark and Share