Friday, February 29, 2008

Korean Berbecue (Beef, non-marinated)

Most people think of "Galbi" or "Galbee" when asked about Korean barbecue. Galbi is a marinated short ribs and is only one item under Korean barbecue. There are many different kinds of Korean beef barbecues depending on the type of meat and type of marinate or no marinate. The non-marinated Korean barbecues are very easy to prepare.

1. There are a few choices of meat. You can either get loins, or ribs. Unless you go to a Korean market and specifically get the ones that are nicely sliced, the easiest way for you is get a loins or rib steak and slice them yourself at home. Try to slice them thinly like the pictures below because if too thick, you won't get the flavor right due to the different techniques of heating for Korean barbecue.

2. Once you have the slices ready, you want to mix them with sesame oil, little bit of salt, and black pepper. Some people add garlic at this point to the fresh meat and that's totally fine.

3. If you barbecue on a grill, that'll be fantastic, however, a home frying pan will work just fine. The only thing is that you want to cook the meat (since they are thin enough) with high heat. Cook one side of the meat on high heat for maybe 30 seconds and quickly flip to cook the other side for another 15 seconds. Cooking in high heat for a short time preserves the juiciness of the inside and also outside will have slight brown grilled marks. I like it slightly pink inside just like steaks so sometimes I under cook it but it's totally upto you. Try to cook other sliced vegetables with the meat such as mushrooms, garlic slices, or sliced onions.

This picture below is the loins.

These are the ribs. I personally like ribs better for some reason. They taste juicier and sometimes naturally sweeter to me.

So yes, cooking the barbecue part is very simple and straight forward. Try this with the 1) green onion salads (I posted a recipe for that here), 2) Korean miso soup (spicier and thicker than Japanese miso soup) 3) lettuces (Some indispensable fresh vegetable side dish with Korean barbecue includes lettuce, fresh green peppers, sesame leaf called "gaet ip" and finally some pickled radish called "moo chung" 4) dipping sauce called Sahmjang or Ssamjang.

Here is what Sahmjang looks like. You dip the meat, garlic, and other cooked vegetables into this sauce and this will definately upgrade the flavor. You can purchase this from a Korean supermarket. Below is what it looks like.

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Green Onion Salad (Pah Juh Ri)

Green onion salad? Better not be for breakfast or lunch. It does actually goes really well with Korean barbecues though. In fact, you will always get this dish in one form or another at a Korean barbecue joint.  So you wanna make some Korean barbecue at home?  Why not add this as a side dish.  It’s very simple to make.

1. First, clean some green onions with water. You will need to chop off the heads.

2. Cut them. Using a sharp knife tip, slice the leaf vertically and chop them off horizontally into three sections like the picture below.

3. So in the end, it will look like this.

4. You need thinly ground Korean chili powder (how much is enough for you?), sesame oil (2 tsp), a pinch of sugar, and a drizzle of vinegar. I would use either rice wine vinegar or apple vinegar to augment the fresh flavors. I’ve also used lemon vinegar and worked like a charm.

5. Mix them all up.

Ready to eat!

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Kimchi Stew (Kimchi Chigae)

One of the most popular Korean dishes got to be the Kimchi stew. You will see this sizzling hot pot of kimchi with pork at Korean restaurants. Hopefully you tried it and liked it. If you did, you will find this recipe helpful. I cook Kimchi stew quite often at home and all I need is rice plus to stew for dinner. Everyone seems to have different ways to cook this stew but here is my own recipe and it is a good one!

1. Cut half an onion. It does not deed to be thinly sliced but something like below.

2. Cut bacons. You can also use pork but I like the flavor of bacons in my Kimchi stew.

3. In high heat, stir fry the bacons with "sesame oil." 2 spoons of sesame oil will be fine.

4. Slice mushrooms and add them into the pot. (Optional: zukinis if you like)

5. Add Kimchi and a spoon of minced garlic to the pot. My Kimchi is already cut into small pieces but if the kind of Kimchi you have is uncut, you may want to cut into smaller pieces.

6. Continue to heat the mixture for another 2-3 minutes.

7. Add water to the mixture. I would say maybe 2-3 cups but use your best judgment. Do not add to much because the broth will be too thin. The density of the mixture with the amount of water should look something like the picture below.

8. As you continue to heat up the soup, you want to add condiments to flavor up the soup. You need salt, thinly ground red pepper powder, clam/chicken base (optional), sugar and finally sesame oil (3-4 spoons). Make sure you wait until later to add sesame oil. In fact you can add the oil about 1-2 minutes before you turn off the heat later in the end. If you add it too soon, the flavor will disappear. For everything else, make sure you keep tasting the broth to cater your own taste buds. Just don't put too much salt in the beginning!

9. Change the heat to medium probably 5 minutes before you turn the heat off completely. Once the soup boils once after adding all the condiments, you can turn it to medium.

10. Cut green onions and add to the soup. The reason you add the green onions the last is because again this is something you want to preserve its freshness. If you add this into the hot mixture, it will not only become mushy but the flavor will disappear.

Here is what the final version should look like. Enjoy!

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Korean Barbecue (Chicken)

Korean barbecue has come a long way to become popular in the American mainstream food market. Most people seem to fall in love with Korean barbecue after trying it for the first time. So what is then Korean barbecue?  Does it have to be this fancy schmancy setting with the grill on top of your dinner table?  Guess you’re out of luck if you want to cook the darn thing at home.  I think it’s more of the marinade.  As you see above, this is not your typical Korean barbecue.

Drumsticks are rarely used in Korean barbecue. Usually, it’s beef or pork and they are the most popular choices of the meat. But I’m a man and I love chicken.  So what do I do?  Improvise…

1. Sauce
In a container, pour soy sauce (1/4 ratio), teriyaki sauce (2/4), fish sauce (1/4). In case you’re wondering what fish sauce is, look at this picture below. Nowadays, you can easily purchase this from any big American supermarket.

2. Condiments
Once you have the basic mixture of the sauce from #1, you can add minced garlic (1-2 spoon), a touch of sesame oil, sugar (you can also replace with sweetners if you’re health conscious. I use Splender), and some finely ground red chili powder.  The best kind to use is Korean sun dried chili powder. You can buy this at a Korean supermarket if you want.

The final sauce will look like this below.

3. Add chicken
I buy big packets of drumsticks and before I freeze them, I separate them and put around six to seven pieces in a smaller zip lock before freezing the rest I will not eat right away. (I live alone so this is perfect for me, but if you have a bigger family, you can use bigger zip lock and put more chicken in or even use the whole package from the market. Just make sure you eat up the marinated chickens within three days at most once refrigerated, or it will go bad.

You might want to make some cut marks on the chicken just so that the sauce will seep in better to the inside of the meaty area of your drumsticks.

When you are ready, just dunk them in!

Make sure the sauce gets into every piece in your container.

4. Allow 3-5 hours to marinate the chicken inside a refrigerator. 5. Bake or grill the chicken!
I don’t have a grill in my apartment so I just use the oven. For oven users, it is really helpful if you create an open box shape with aluminum foil like below so that you don’t have to clean the grease on your pan afterwards. Call me a lazy bastard for not wanting to do the dishes but all you gotta do is just throw away the foil. :)

Put the chicken on the pan and bake it for 20 minutes at 350 degree F. At this point, inside of the drumsticks should be fully cooked but the outside of the chicken will still be somewhat moist and not crispy and caramelized as you would want them to be. Take the pan out of the oven and flip the chickens over (they might be stuck on the bottom), and broil them for additional 10 minutes. This will give you a somewhat crispy texture on the outside.

After 20 minutes: At this point, inside of the meaty drum area should be fully cooked.

After additional 10 minutes of broiling: Now this is what I'm talking about!

Clean up?

6. Eat!
I usually sprinkle some sesame seeds on top to make it look better. Also it tastes better with them but it is totally upto you. Enjoy!

What not to do:
1. Leaving the chicken meat in the sauce for more than two days. It will make the meat really salty unless you add water to the mix. I would only put in the amount of meat you plan to eat in next 1-2 days. However, the sauce is reusable. Once the meat is gone, you can defrost more meat, make some cut marks like #3, and add them in.

2. If you leave the meat in the sauce refrigerated for more than a week, meat will go bad.
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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Welcome to Home Cooking Diary!

Hi everyone, my name is Peter. I thought I would start this blog because I am so in love with cooking and wanted to share some helpful tips and my joy to whoever visiting this site. Being a student over in a countryside where there is only Safeway in 30 minutes of walking distance from home, I started cooking at home nearly everyday for last couple of years. Although I don't know how to make even most cultural food out there, I can make a good list of mostly Asian and Italian food. And let me tell you, my food is quite good. I am a Korean American living in the US, so for those who love Korean food, I can provide some helpful recipes to try at home. But my cooking is not limited to Korean but also includes Italian, Japanese, and etc so you won't get so bored after all!

The way I view cooking is not practicing a boring science with strict measuring unit system and manufacturing an identical factory-made food all the time. I call that a chemistry lab work, far from a creating experience! I get so turned off by those boring lists of units of ingredients and the procedure when I look up online recipes. I want to try and post recipes with lots of photos so that you can be more engaged by watching the process, because for me, just imagining the process in my head was pretty difficult and sometimes I failed many times trying to reproduce the food from a boring recipe list. Stay tuned and I will keep updating.
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