29 July 2011

And now, off to Korea!

I can't believe how quickly this summer has flown by.  Here I've been in Taiwan for 6 weeks now, and my time is rapidly coming to a close.  I can say without reservation that I am exactly where I should be at exactly the right time.  It feels really, really good to be so settled-feeling, so happy.  I just don't want it to end, though, and I can't say how sad I am to be leaving a place that has so quickly become home for me.

Having wrapped up my stint as a teacher here, I now have my long-awaited Korea trip before me.  In just a few days, I will be reveling in the motherland of one of my favorite cuisines, hopefully getting some samgyetang, gamjatang, and patbingsu in somewhere along the way!

In honor of this upcoming trip, I want to post a recipe for the classic Korean dish kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew).  This jjigae is incredibly easy to whip up...and the flavors are rich and exciting.  Moreover (and this is what earns it high marks in my book), it is extremely healthy, low-fat with great fiber and protein levels from all that yummy cabbage kimchi and tofu.  I used a nice lean pork sirloin tip roast, but pork belly (samgyeopsal) would be a tasty, richer alternative.

Kimchi jjigae (Kimchi Stew) 김치찌개,
Serves 3-4, Adapted from Maangchi

4 cups chopped kimchi
2/3 lb. (300g) pork meat, diced
½ medium white onion, sliced
2-3 green onions, sliced on the bias
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. hot pepper flakes (gochugaru)
1 Tbs. hot pepper paste (gochujang)
~2 cups water
14 oz. (400g) tofu
1 Tbs. sesame oil

Place kimchi, pork, both types of onion, sugar, pepper flakes, and pepper paste in a medium pot.  Add more water as needed to submerge all ingredients and stir to combine.

Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook at a lively simmer for 20 minutes.  Cut the tofu into large bite-size chunks add to the jjigae; continue cooking for 5 minutes more until tofu has heated through.  Check seasoning and add salt to taste, then drizzle with sesame oil.  Serve with steamed rice.

13 July 2011

Birthday soup: deulkkae miyeokguk

Miyeokguk, Korean seaweed soup, is absolutely delicious.  And the savory beef broth, the succulent seaweed that plumps up so nicely while cooking, and the incredible simplicity of the recipe have got me hooked.

I remember the first time I ate this soup:  Sitting down to lunch with my mom at a little restaurant in Koreatown, famished from a morning of shopping, and being greeted by a steaming bowl of this soup.  More specifically, we were served deulkkae miyeokguk, a particular type of seaweed soup that is normally served just at birthdays and has the festive addition of ground perilla seed powder (deulkkae garu, 들깨가루).  Stir your bowl of soup, and the powder that settled to the bottom will swirl up and around your spoon.

 Since July is a month of many birthdays in my family (including my own ^_^), I wanted to share this special soup with you all and to invite you in on the celebration!

Deulkkae Miyeokguk 들깨미역국 (Perilla Seaweed Soup)
Adapted from Migi’s Kitchen
Makes 2 servings

1 tsp. sesame oil
½ cup chopped round tip steak (or other affordable cut of beef)
1 ½ Tbs. Korean soy sauce (진간장, jin-ganjang)
3 cups water
¼ cup dried seaweed (Korean miyeok or Japanese wakame)
3 Tbs. ground perilla seed (들깨가루, deulkkae garu)
Salt to taste

Heat a medium-sized pot over high heat.  Add the sesame oil and beef and sauté for a minute, stirring meat to cook evenly.  Add the soy sauce and water, scraping up any bits of meat that may have stuck to the pot.

Add the dried seaweed and deulkkae garu, cover pot, and bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook at a medium boil for 20 to 30 minutes.  Check seasoning and add salt to taste.

Before ladling out servings, give the soup a good stir to get the deulkkae garu back up into the broth, as it settles to the bottom fairly quickly.