Sunday, July 29, 2012

Korean Food- Some of our favorite recipes


We love Korean food. For our entire marriage we sought out Korean restaurants when we traveled (there are none around here).  A few years ago, a light bulb finally came on in my head and I realized I could cook it myself...duh.  I have eaten enough to know how it should taste and with the internet there are recipes and instructions for everything.  So, here are our favorites.

Serious advice:
1-Here is what I do...makes it a lot easier.  First and foundationally, I whine about how much work it is so that Bob will be willing to do anything for me to cook it.  He then volunteers to help by chopping garlic, onions, all that stuff.  It really helps a lot!
2-If you notice,  the dishes use a lot of the same ingredients - garlic, green onions, ginger, etc.  I get several "sauce" bowls (label it or you will forget which is which).  Chop and measure for all the sauces at once.  I do it usually the day before when we are doing the bulgogi and kimchee.  Then stick them all in the refrigerator and the next day when you cook, a very large part of the work is done.
3-When you serve the meal, you definitely want rice with it. The sticky rice from an Asian food store is the best.
4-Chop sticks make it definitely better.  


(This is a beef dish that is absolutely wonderful and I've never meet anyone that dislikes bulgogi. The only problem is getting the meat very thinly sliced.  It needs to be about the thickeness of a slice of cheese.  We have a meat slicer, so we buy a roast and Bob slices it. Buy a boneless roast.  You might luck out get the butcher to cut it up for you. A lot will be eaten!)

6 cloves chopped garlic -can't have too much
1 cup soy sauce ( I use reduced sodium)
4 T sugar
2 T honey 
3 T Japanese rice wine -or anything close like dry white wine.
1/2 cup sesame oil
6  green onions, chopped finely -including white part
2 T fresh ginger 
2 tsp pepper salt
If it seems like you need more sauce, just dump in a little more of everything for covering the meat well.  Seriously don't worry too much about measuring exactly!

I put the meat in a very large bowl and pour the sauce over a little at a time as I separate the slices of meat and make sure it gets distributed over all the slices..  Then I put it in a very large zip-lock bag and let it set overnight in the refrigerator to marinate.

Cook the meat on the the time you get the grill covered with slices, it will probably be time to start taking the first ones off.  It doesn't take long at all to cook.

Kimchee  serves about 10, but it just gets better leftove
(Cabbage dish-though it tastes nothing like cabbage, traditionally fermented, but I do a quickie version and we like it much better. You will love it or hate it.  It is typically very hot, but I make it mild.  If you want it hot, use more red pepper flakes.  Also, some brands of flakes are a lot hotter than others.)

2 lbs (one stalk) napa cabbage
1 T salt
2 green onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 T crushed red pepper flakes (amount to taste)
1 T minced ginger
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 t sugar

Chop cabbage coarsely and place in a large bowl
Sprinkle cabbage with salt and let stand 3 hours (if you don't have time, rush this step)
Squeeze cabbage dry with paper towels and dry out bowl or put cabbage in another bowl
Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  
Taste and see if it is hot enough, and add more pepper flakes if it isn't.
Refrigerate overnight (24 hours is recommended)  I have rushed this and let it refrigerate only a few hours before-if you do, it isn't as flavorful, but is more crisp.
I use a very large ziplock bag for this also, and turn it over a time or so while it is refrigerating to make sure the juice gets to all the cabbage. ( I do that with the bulgogi also.)

Sesame Spinach (Serves 4)
(This is one that even non-spinach lovers do like.  You will be amazed at the finished product, a very tasty, extremely tender dish.  You start with a LOT of greens and end up with a ball of spinach the size of a softball)

2 lb fresh spinach (2 large bags or bunches)

Sauce mixture:
6 T soy sauce
4 T sesame oil
1-2 T sesame seed
2 green onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 T sugar
dash pepper

Bring pot of lightly salted water to boil.
Add washed spinach (leave the stems on), remove as soon as leaves turn bright green.
Immediately rinse with cold water.
Drain and squeeze out as much water as possible (best to grab handfuls and squeeze like a ball...I actually form a ball and keep squeezing and squeezing.) 
Place spinach in bowl with sauce mixture and toss well.
Serve at room temperature.

Spicy Cucumbers (serves 4)
1 English cucumber (you can use regular cucumbers, but they get a little mushy)
1 t soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
1/4 t salt
1 t sugar
1/4 t chili powder or red pepper flakes
1 t sesame oil
1 t toasted sesame seeds

Slice cucumbers (unpeeled)
Sprinkle with salt, stir, and let set for 20 minutes.
Drain moisture from cucumbers by layering them on a paper towel and squeezing another piece of paper towel over the top.
Place cucumbers into a mixing bowl and mix with rest of the ingredients.
Serve chilled.!

Above are the dishes I always make when we have Korean food.  Below are a couple more that I sometimes do.  I just did this potato salad recipe recently and we really liked it!

Sesame Bean Sprouts (serves 4-6)
(very good dish, a little hot)
1/2 lb bean sprouts
2 T toasted sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
1-2 green onion, chopped
1 pinch salt
2 T crushed red pepper flakes
2 T soy sauce
1 T sesame oil

Clean sprouts and discard any brown pieces.
Place in boiling water. 
Allow to boil 5-8 minutes.
Drain well
In bowl, toss ingredients
Can be served warm or cold.

Korean Potato Salad (serves 6-8)
(This stuff could be habit forming.)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 hard boiled eggs, yolks removed and cut in to small chunks
1  carrot, cut into small chunks
1/2 small cucumber, thinly sliced or cut into small chunks
1/2 small yellow or sweet onion, diced
1 small apple, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup Kewpie mayonnaise (I just use regular mayo and add a little rice vinegar and sugar)
salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes and carrot until tender, about 10-15 minutes (not mushy)
While the potatoes are cooking, sprinkle salt on the cucumber and onion and let sweat.
Remove potatoes and carrots and let cool a little.
Rinse cucumber and onion lightly and squeeze out excess water with paper towels
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together gently with mayonnaise.

I have done vegetable pancakes, mandu (dumplings), potatoes, and a few others, but they were either so much trouble, or not well-eaten. These I included are not really hard dishes and are the ones most liked.

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