Thursday, December 1, 2011

Easy Korean

Often, it's a chore for my family to trek all the way out to Bergen County to go Korean grocery shopping so sometimes we just have to make do with what's available in our local grocery store and/or fridge.

Korean food is all about the banchan (side dishes) to accompany a bowl of rice. Here are three of my favorite dishes to make, because of both the accessibility factor and the simplicity.

#1: MEAT
Marinade:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon Vietnamese hot chili sauce (not Sriracha but the chunky kind with the seeds), optional, but I think this adds a ton of flavor and a nice little kick
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Meat: You can use flank steak or skirt steak. We had skirt steak in the house so I marinaded about 3/4 lb of skirt steak overnight, flipping it once to allow even marination.
Grill the meat on a hot cast iron pan or even better, on the barbecue. We grilled some baby bell peppers alongside of the meat. Let the meat rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing it up (against the grain) and serve.


#2: STEAMED EGG
2 eggs + equal volume of water
pinch of salt
chives for garnish

It helps if you have a little stone pot, but you could definitely use a sauce pan instead. Or, if you're ultra lazy, you can use a microwave (I'll explain that at the end).
I use the egg shell to measure in the water; 1/2 eggshell, filled 4 times with water. It's a nifty little trick.
Add in the salt and beat the eggs and water until combined. Get the pot on low heat.
Meanwhile, get your chive garnish ready. Babysit the eggs and stir constantly as it slowly cooks and scrambles. I like to use a spoon to stir so I can scrape the edges of the pot where the egg curdles quickest (so nothing burns). Once it has the consistency of pudding, turn off the heat, add the chives, and cover the pot with its lid. Let it sit for about 2 minutes to allow the egg to set and finish cooking and then serve.
A little tip: this can also be made in the microwave. In a microwave safe container, beat up the egg and water and salt until it gets really frothy. You need lots of air incorporated in order for the dish to come out fluffy and delicious. Microwave it on high for 2 minutes or so, babysitting it so it doesn't burn. Once you see the egg starting to balloon up, pull it out of the microwave and put on a lid and let it sit for a few minutes to let the residual heat finish cooking the egg. Serve immediately.


#3: CUCUMBERS

3 kirby cucumbers (or 1 english cucumber) - regular cucumbers aren't crisp enough and have too many seeds
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Korean hot pepper paste

Slice up the cucumbers and sprinkle liberally with the salt and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. This helps draw out a lot of water so that the cucumber can better hold onto the flavors of the other ingredients. Once they cucumbers have given off some water, rinse the cucumbers and then squeeze them (in handfuls) to get out any excess water. It's kind of like how you'd squeeze the water out of blanched spinach before making spinach ravioli filling - if that example helps at all.

After that, it's simple; just add in the vinegar, oil, sugar, and hot pepper paste and mix it up. Add in some sliced Korean hot peppers for an added punch.

Enjoy =)

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