Thursday, December 29, 2011


Kimbap is kind of like Korean sushi. It's a roll made with rice, laver (seaweed), and various other ingredients. It's a really flexible dish that can be made using whatever you have in the house. But here's how I made it.

[Serves 4]

4 to 5 cups of steamed white rice
1 tablespoon vinegar - either apple cider or rice wine are preferable
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

8 to 10 pieces of laver (roasted seaweed)

3 pieces of odeng (fishcake) or you could use spam or ground beef or any other protein you like
1 bunch of spinach, blanched
1 chunk of danmooji (Korean pickled radish), cut into strips
1 carrot, julienned
3 eggs + 3 tablespoons of cream (milk or water are also acceptable)

I mixed the rice with the vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil while the rice was still warm (otherwise it'll be harder to mix). You don't necessarily have to flavor the rice but it's definitely yummier that way.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Eve Paella & Fideua

Barcelona is my favorite city because of its amazing food so for Christmas Eve, I decided to make paella and fideua (like paella except noodles instead of rice).

For the paella you'll need a wide, shallow pan (or you can use a paella pan if you own one) and for the fideua, you'll need a similar pan but one that is safe to put in the oven.
for fideua
for paella
[Serves 4]
1/2 onion
2 bell peppers (I chose one red and one yellow for added color vibrancy)
2 fresh chorizo sausages
3 or 4 chicken thighs
       marinated for 1 hour in 1 teaspoon paprika
                                          2 teaspoons oregano
                                          1/2 teaspoon salt
                                          1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of diced tomatoes, or 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
2 cups of short or medium grain rice (preferably Spanish) if you want to make paella or 4 cups of fideo noodles (or a thin noodle pasta like angel hair or spaghetti) broken up into small pieces if you want to make fideua
1 teaspoon saffron
3 cups of stock - either chicken or vegetable
8 - 10 medium sized shrimp (I like to make sure there's at least 2 per person)
8 - 10 clams (same as the shrimp, I like at least 2 per person)
1 lobster tail, cut in half
2 calamari tubes, cut into rings.
1/2 cup peas
lemon wedges
handful of parsley

**Note that you can adjust the amount of seafood you add to the preferences of who you are serving.

***Also note that I decided to make both paella and fideua. In Barcelona, my sister and I had fideua with just calamari in it so I made a small portion of fideua (using 1 cup of noodles and 3/4 cup of stock) with just calamari (and omitted it from the paella recipe). I also borrowed a few vegetables from what I cup up to make the paella.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


As a little pre-Christmas treat my sister and I went to Morimoto restaurant in New York City (meatpacking district) for lunch. The food and ambiance were both incredible.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Dinner Planning

I love any holiday that allows us to make a special dinner and spend all day cooking. I also love inviting over tons of people because that gives us the excuse to make lots of dishes and not worry so much about being overwhelmed with leftovers. However, this year, we're doing something small - just my dad, sister, and me - so we need to make a more appropriate amount of food.

Here's what I have planned so far:
The dessert is still pretty up in the air though. I wrote down two ideas but I don't know how they'll pan out.

I also have a list of a few other dishes I want to make over the break, like mandoo (Korean dumplings), ddukbokki (rice cake with a spicy sauce), and paella, to name a few. I'm supposed to be watching what I eat because I'm going to Hawaii in 9 days but it's the holidays! It's time to indulge :)

Holiday cheers!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Longanisa is a Filipino sweet sausage that I first tried at a restaurant a few months ago. My sister and I were craving it but the restaurant was kind of far so we decided to just make it ourselves. We looked up a few recipes and compared ingredients and I adjusted it to suit our tastes and what was available in our local grocery store.

1 lb ground pork
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 cloves garlic, minced (I used a garlic press)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Combine the ingredients (by hand) and then form it into patties or logs, whatever your preference is.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kimchee Fried Rice

The breakfast of champions: kimchee fried rice! On a lazy weekend morning, if we have leftover rice and kalbi, I'm definitely going to make myself some kimchee bokkeum bahp.

(Serves 4, or 2 starving people)
1 cup chopped kimchi
1 tablespoon oil
3 cups sticky white rice
1 tablespoon Korean hot pepper paste (gochujang)
1/2 cup chopped up leftover kalbi
few drops of sesame oil
fried egg (optional)

Heat up a frying pan with the oil and add the kimchi. Cook until translucent.
Add the hot pepper paste to the kimchi and stir to combine before adding the rice.
Stir until the rice and kimchi are all incorporated and then add in the kalbi.
Top with a fried egg, if you so desire.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fishcake Side dish

There's also an updated version of this recipe, if you're interested in prettier, newer photos.

Odeng (Korean fish cake) is super versatile and we always have a few packets in our freezer at home. We use it to make soup, as the protein in ddukbokki (which I'll have to do a post on soon), and as a quick and easy side dish on days we don't have much banchan (side dishes) to eat with our rice.

1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 Korean long hot peppers, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cup roughly chopped up Korean fishcake (the packages I usually buy have 4 or 5 index card-sized pieces so I'll just use that whole package)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon Korean hot pepper flake

Start with the onion, pepper, and garlic in a hot pan with a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the vegetables are soft, add in the fishcake and stir fry for a few minutes until the fishcakes get a bit of color.
Mix together the soy sauce, water, hot pepper flakes, and sugar.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kalbi (갈비)

Korean barbecue is probably the most well-known aspect of Korean cuisine to foreigners and it's one of my family's favorite things to eat.

For the marinade:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or any mild oil)
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (the kind you put on pizza)
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/4 cup sugar (I use light brown but granulated is fine)
few drops sesame oil

Whisk it up with a fork until the sugar is dissolved.
The marinade should yield enough liquid to coat a 2.5 to 3 lb package of sliced Korean short ribs.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kalbi Tang (갈비탕)

It finally got cold enough for my down jacket this past weekend so I was set on eating comforting warm foods. I got a craving for kalbi tang (short rib soup) so I decided to make some. However, we didn't have any kalbi (I used it all up to make the kalbi jjim) so I made the soup from oxtails. For me, kalbi tang is not about the meat but about the soup so I didn't care.

3/4 lb oxtails or short ribs
1 gallon water
5 cloves of garlic
1 slice of onion
1/2 cup Korean radish or daikon, chopped into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
few drops of sesame oil
handful of Korean glass noodles (made from sweet potato starch)
salt to taste

It took about two days to make this because of the process to make the stock. I soaked the oxtails in cold water for a few hours to drain the "blood" (the red liquid is actually myoglobin, a protein, not blood) because the goal is to have a really clear, not cloudy soup. I drained and replaced the soaking water a few times.

After the soaking, I put the oxtails in a big stock pot with a gallon of water and brought it to a boil. Once it was boiling, I added in a few cloves of garlic. The garlic adds flavor and also helps take that gamey smell out of the stock. Then I reduced the heat to let the stock simmer.
After simmering for two hours, I turned off the heat and brought the pot to the garage where it could cool down. If it's not cold enough outside (warmer than 40 degrees) or if it's too cold outside (below freezing) or if you don't have a garage or space to put the pot outside, just make room in your fridge for the pot. I left it in the garage overnight so that all of the saturated fats would congeal and I could skim them off with a strainer. I do skim some foam off while the stock is simmering, but the bulk of the icky fat is removed most easily when it's solidified.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

SoonDooBoo Jjigae (순두부찌개)

FYI, I have a newer, prettier, updated soondooboo recipe, if you're interested in something a little easier to follow.

Soondooboo jjigae, or silken tofu stew/soup, is one of my favorite staples for dinner when the cold weather hits. It's really easy to make and it's really comforting so I love it. Half of the ingredients are ones that are not readily available in a normal grocery store, but I'll try and offer some semi-decent substitutions. However, to be perfectly frank, it's just not going to taste as good unless you use the real stuff.

1-1/2 tablespoon Korean hot pepper flakes, you could use a mixture of 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (the kind you sprinkle on pizza) with 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper instead; add more or less depending on your spicy-heat tolerance
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil (or canola oil, any taste-less oil is fine)
1-1/2 cups water or stock (vegetable, beef, chicken, seafood, anything you prefer)
3 cloves of garlic
1 hot Korean pepper, you can use a jalepeno or another hot chili you like
1/2 cup mixed seafood, this is available in the freezer section of the grocery store; if you don't want to use seafood, you could just throw in some stewing beef. This is to flavor the stock of the soup.
1/4 cup chopped cabbage kimchi, (we have homemade kimchi at home). Sometimes you can find prepared kimchi in the grocery store but if you don't have access, you can omit this ingredient. Just throw in some roughly chopped onions for that vegetable factor though.
1 teaspoon Korean hot pepper paste, this is just to flavor the broth so you could potentially omit this if you don't have any. But it does add a lot of roundness so if it's not there, the soup will taste like it's missing a little oomph.
1/2 teaspoon dwaenjang (Korean soybean paste, it's like Korean miso), this is another broth flavoring agent. However, the soybean paste has a certain "umami" taste. Miso is a perfectly fine substitution, and I've found it to be readily available.
1 package of silken tofu (I bought the kind that comes in a tube package from the Asian market, but they usually come in a small square container at the regular grocery store)
1 handful of enochi mushrooms, I've only seen these at my grocery store every so often so you could just use regular mini portabello mushrooms
pinch of salt (to taste)
chives (optional)

I poured a bit of oil in the pot (I used a small saucepan) and turned the heat on low.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kalbi Jjim (갈비찜)

FYI, I've got a much prettier, updated, easier to follow version of this recipe, if you're interested.

Kalbi jjim translated is "steamed ribs," but I think a more accurate description is braised short ribs. As with all homey comfort foods, every family has their own special recipe. Here's mine:

*NOTE: this recipe calls for a few specialty ingredients that might not be available in your regular grocery store but I'm going to do my best to offer accessible substitutions.

[serves 4]
2.5 lb package of short ribs, the kind in the Asian grocery store is specifically for this dish but you could use what you find in the grocery store. You could also use pork ribs if you want.
1/2 Korean radish, roughly chopped - Korean radish is a big fat white radish, you could definitely use daikon or white radish instead, but since these are smaller, you'll need 2 or 3.
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1/2 white sweet potato, diced - This is actually my substitution for chestnuts, which my mom would use, but we didn't have any. If you have some chestnuts, you could toss in 1 cup. You could use orange sweet potato but I like the white because the carrots already add orange color.
1/2 sweet onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2" piece of ginger, grated
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce (like I've mentioned many times, our family is sensitive to salt, but if you prefer salty food and don't mind overloading on sodium, go ahead and use regular soy sauce)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1-1/2 cup water

I peeled the garlic, carrots, and sweet potato; crushed the garlic, roughly chopped the carrots, and diced the sweet potato. I like the sweet potatoes to be small and bite-sized so when you find one, it's a delicious little treat.
Peeled the radish and chopped it into big chunks.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Our Christmas Tree

Our family hasn't been too big on getting Christmas trees for the past decade or so. I think it's because we're afraid the dog will eat the needles and we're getting too lazy to want to clean up the needles and it's just not environmentally friendly to kill a tree so that the house looks good for a month.

Sorry to be such a grinch! But this year, I found a cute little substitution for a Christmas tree. My sister, her friend, and I made some fun ornaments, via Martha Stewart, and I wasn't sure what to do with them but I was inspired by Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. So I went outside and found a small pine branch and put it in a nice cylindrical glass vase filled with glass stones and marbles, added some lights (just piled into the vase, not wrapped around the branch), and hung the ornaments. I was pretty satisfied with the results.

close up of the ornament
pretty lights
lovely :)
I think it's an awesome substitution for a Christmas tree and I think it might make a great centerpiece for Christmas dinner.

I also like these magazine trees (via Martha Stewart again). I used catalogs that I got in the mail (I get countless catalogs from VS, Anthropologie, J.Crew, etc.) because it's a fun way to recycle them into something nice. Then I sprayed them with green glitter spray paint. I think seeing bits of color from the magazine pages is nice. I don't like the saturated gold color, the way Martha did it, but it's all about preference.
I wish this photo could do a bit more justice to just how sparkly and pretty the glitter spray paint turned out.
I'm trying to get in the Christmas spirit!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

DIY: Homemade Tea Bags

I bought so much loose leaf tea from McNulty's that I wanted to gift some of it in a pretty way so I decided to make some homemade tea bags.

You'll need loose tea, coffee filters, needle & thread (or a sewing machine if you're talented), some fun scissors, some normal scissors, pretty paper, pens, craft glue, and a stapler.
I laid two coffee filters on top of each other and cut out a circle using pinking shears. I basically just trimmed off the ruffly part of the filters.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I remember as a kid, one of the special dinners my mom would make was omurice, which is just fried rice with an omelet. Doesn't sound that special from that description but my mom would always write "LOVE" or draw a happy face on the omelet with ketchup and that would always make me so happy and excited for the meal.

Nowadays, it's one of those things I make if we have leftover rice from the night before. Most recently, I made it for Thanksgiving breakfast. I thought my sister and I needed to carbo-load and get energized for a day of cooking.

[Serves 4]
1 Idaho potato, diced (it's better if the pieces are pretty small, otherwise it'll take a long time to cook them through)
pinch of salt and pepper
1/4 sweet onion, diced
handful of mushrooms, chopped
1 sweet sausage, fresh, casing removed - you can substitute any meat you think will taste good. Spam is a popular one but ground beef or pork or leftover rotisserie chicken would all work; use your imagination.
1/2 cup ketchup
2 cups cooked rice
1 teaspoon olive oil
And you can always add in any vegetables you like: peas, bell peppers, squash, anything that would be good in fried rice.

For the omelets, I like to make one per person and cook it in a crepe pan. It's like a personal sized omelet that way. I use 1 egg and a splash of milk or cream and a pinch of salt.

To make the rice component, throw all of the veggies and meat into a frying pan or skillet with a bit of vegetable oil. Once the potatoes are cooked through you can add in the salt and pepper and stir just before adding the rice. Once the rice is warmed through and the ingredients look well combined, add in the ketchup.
I like to scoop some rice onto the plate...
... and then top it with the omelet.
And for a twist, we ate our omurice with sriracha instead of more ketchup.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Soft Tacos

Rice & beans (which I've blogged about before), simple tomato "salsa" (it's just diced up tomatoes with salt and pepper), shredded sharp cheddar, sour cream, skirt steak with baby bell peppers (seasoned simply with salt and pepper before being seared on a hot grill pan), and chorizo (fresh sausage, not smoked, with the casings removed) with caramelized onions.


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
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.
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