21 May 2011

Musaengchae - Spicy Shredded Radish

I’m cleaning out my pantry, people, trying to use up what I’ve got before heading out of town for the summer.  Heading out of the country, that is!  Many of you know that I and my tastebuds have developed a deep love for Korean food this past year.  But what many of you may not know is that I’ve actually been studying Chinese since January.  Wait, what?

Let me back up.  I meant to study Korean so that I could better understand the food culture.  But with education budget cuts across California, Korean language classes are no longer offered within 100 miles of Santa Barbara!  The logical alternative was Chinese, as Hanzi (Chinese characters) have been adopted for use in certain settings in Korea.  So really, why not?


But, another and perhaps more pressing reason I’ve been studying Chinese is that I will be spending the summer in Taiwan.  Having made up my mind last November to go, I can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that my departure date is drawing so close now!  In just a few weeks, I’ll be off for my first adventures in Asia.  Of course, while I’m over in that part of the world, I will be heeding the call in my heart (or is it my stomach?) and making a visit Korea.

It’s looking to be an amazing summer—soaking up lots of hot weather, connecting with friends overseas, and exploring fantastic cuisine—an exciting a break from my routine here in Santa Barbara.  So tell me, what is not-to-be-missed when visiting Taiwan or Korea (in and around Seoul)?  I know Apricosa gets visitors from all around the world on a daily basis, and I’d love to get your suggestions!

So, in light of this all, I’m presently seeking to clear up what’s been hanging around in the kitchen.  A few days ago, a friend gave me a whole lot of wonderful Korean daikon, known in Korean as mu ().  I just love these crisp white radishes—they’re slightly peppery but so cooling and refreshing!  Besides kkakdugi, one of my favorite recipes involving mu is musaengchae, a banchan in which the mu is julienned and seasoned with a spicy, lightly sweet-and-sour seasoning.  I’ve come up with a great recipe for musaengchae, cobbled together from a number of sources, that I think is a great complement to some soup (like seaweed soup) and rice and maybe some broiled fish and a few other side dishes.  Let me tell you how to make it!


Mu Saengchae (무생채) Spicy Shredded Radish 
Adapted from Institute of Traditional Korean Food and Lee Wade’s Korean Cookery 

1 lb. Korean daikon (, mu), cut into large matchsticks*
1 Tbs. salt
2-4 tsp. sugar (to taste)
1 Tbs. Korean red chili powder (고추가루, gochugaru)
3 green onions, in 1-inch pieces
1 ½ tsp. minced garlic
1 ½ tsp. sesame salt
1 ½ Tbs. rice vinegar

Toss julienned mu with 1 Tbs. salt and let sit 5 minutes to draw out the water and make the mu more pliable.  Rinse off salt and drain well, squeezing out excess liquid.

Place mu in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the remaining ingredients over.  Toss well, rubbing the seasonings onto each piece of julienned mu (you may want to wear gloves to prevent staining your hands).  Check seasoning and add more salt and chili powder (or chili paste, 고추장/gochujang) to taste.  Can keep up to one week, refrigerated.

* Somewhere around 0.5 cm square by 8-10 cm long (or 3/16-inch square by 3-4 inches long)

15 May 2011

Malted milk ball chewies

Wow, let me just say, I am so glad I made these cookies!  Crispy edges with a chewy center and studded with chunks of pecans and malted milk balls, they’re a great twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie.

To be honest, I’ve never cared much for malted milk candies over the years, but when I broke open that carton of Whoppers, the aroma was so enticing I couldn’t resist popping a few into my mouth right then and there.  And the cookies are even better! 

I love eating these still warm from the oven.  Crisp edges of cookie give way to a nicely soft and chewy center, with little bits of melted malt and chocolate.  I usually make up a big batch of cookie dough and store it in the fridge so that whenever I want a freshly-baked cookie, I take an ice-cream scooper and take a portion out, bring it to room temperature, and then bake it off in my toaster oven.  As the dough ages, it takes on a what I'd describe as a golden, caramel-y flavor that's absolutely divine.  But either way, both the freshly-made as well as the well-aged dough will turn out great batches of cookies.

Make these malted milk candy chewies soon! 

Malted Milk Ball Chewies 
Adapted from Sprinkled with Flour 

¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
2  cups all-purpose flour
1  cup quick-cooking oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups malted milk balls, coarsely chopped
¾ cups pecans, coarsely chopped

Beat butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla, and mix until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Drop room-temperature cookie dough by tablespoons onto an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them 2-inches apart (dough will spread out into thin, wide cookies during baking).  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 F for 10-12 minutes, depending on how crisp you like your cookies.  Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack.

08 May 2011

A tea-time treat

Lovely for a tea party, these "Maids of Honor" have long been a favorite in my family.  I think they've shown up at showers, Christmas brunches, and, of course, the occasional tea party that's been thrown here in my home.  And when I was invited to a tea in honor of the recent Royal Wedding, I knew these pastries were just the thing to bring along.

The party was loads of fun--a lazy, sunny Santa Barbara afternoon, ladies and gentlemen dressed in their finest spring wear, and an array of delicious treats and hilarious antics.  Slowing down and catching up with friends, forgetting the passage of time, and, just being.  So refreshing.

Each personal-size pastry has a delicate crust filled with a lightly sweet, slightly tangy sour cream custard that's flavored with lemon zest and a sprinkling of cardamom.  After baking, they're finished off with a dusting of powdered sugar.  A perfect complement to a cup of tea and a scone or two!

Maids of Honor
Adapted from Malcom Hillier's "Entertaining"
Makes 12-18 pastries

Pastry Shell:
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
⅔ cup butter
5 to 7 Tbs. cold water

Custard Filling:
Scant 1 cup (200ml) light sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbs. butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbs. sugar
½ lemon, zest only
½ tsp. ground cardamom or nutmeg
powdered (confectioners) sugar

For the pastry dough, sift together flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor, then cut in shortening with a few pulses until butter is the size of small peas.  Adding one tablespoon of water at a time, pulse until dough clumps together.  Divide into two portions and wrap in plastic wrap, flattening into 1/2-inch thick discs.  Refrigerate until cool.

Roll out the pastry dough to just under 1/4-inch thickness, then cut out pastry rounds using a 3-inch (7.5cm) fluted cutter.  Place pastry rounds into muffin-tin holes and chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients (except the cardamom). Spoon the mixture by tablespoonfuls into the chilled pastry shells, then sprinkle each of the tops with cardamom.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. Leave in muffin tin for 2 minutes before cooling on a wire rack. When cooled, dust generously with powdered sugar.

Note:  These pastries, in my opinion, are quite good even after being refrigerated and served the next day slightly chilled.  If you make them ahead of time, you may want to re-dust them with powdered sugar, since the sugar tends to be absorbed into the custard.