31 July 2013

A Summertime Snack: Mul Naengmyeon (물냉면)

Mul Naengmyeon Portrait

Mul naengmyeon is so refreshing during the summertime heat.  An icy cold, vinegary, sweet and savory broth.  Chewy buckwheat noodles (for boba fans, think "Q"!) and crunchy fresh vegetables.  A bit of salty, crispy dried seaweed.  Some protein on top.

It's thirst-quenching and nourishing, and it's just the right amount for a light meal or snack.  I've been eating a lot of this stuff the past few weeks, sometimes with more veggies, sometimes with a dab of gochujang (Korean red pepper paste).  Any which way, it's so so good!  Make some today if you need relief from the summer heat!

Mul Naengmyeon Bowl

Mul Naengmyeon (물냉면)
Recipe adapted from Maangchi
1 serving

1 1/2 cups very cold broth (recipe below)
75 g buckwheat noodles (memil mulnaengmyeon/메밀물냉면)
1/4 cup julienned cucumber
1/4 cup julienned Asian pear (배)
hard-boiled egg
julienned kim (sesame and salt-seasoned seaweed laver), to taste
about 1/2 cup crushed ice

Bring a saucepan of water to boil, then add the buckwheat noodles and cook according to package directions (3-4 minutes).  Drain noodles in a colander and rinse with cold water until thoroughly cooled (this helps to improve the chewy texture).  During rinsing, use the running water to help untangle the noodles, and then wrap the serving of noodles into a tight spool.  Place the noodles into an individual serving bowl and set aside in the refrigerator to chill.

Prepare the julienned cucumber and Asian pear, along with the hard-boiled egg and kim.

To assemble, pour the prepared cold broth over the noodles, add the crushed ice around the noodles, and arrange the cucumber, pear, egg, and kim on top.  Serve with extra vinegar and salt (and kim!), as desired.

For the Mul Naengmyeon Broth
8 cups water
4 dried shiitake mushrooms (표고버섯)
4 1-inch pieces dried kelp (dashima/다시마)
8 dried anchovies, heads and guts removed (마른멸치)
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. salt
2 1/2 Tbs. vinegar

Place water, mushrooms, kelp, and anchovies in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Strain out and discard the solids, then whisk in the sugar and salt until dissolved.  Let broth cool to room temperature, then add the vinegar.  Transfer broth to a non-reactive container and refrigerate until very cold.  (Keeps for one week, refrigerated.)

20 July 2013

Flavors of Taiwan: Lǔ​ Ròu Fàn (滷肉飯)

Lu Rou Fan 滷肉飯

I've been missing Asian food.  Funny, right?  I mean, here I am in Asia...  But, it's actually pretty hard to find legit, non-Korean Asian food here.  Last week I couldn't take the cravings anymore, and a friend suggested that I try making lǔ​ ròu fàn (滷肉飯), a classic Taiwanese dish.  Armed with a shopping list of ingredients, I made a 1 1/2 hour trek by foot and by subway to the other side of Busan, where, I had heard, there were a couple little "international food" shops that sold non-Korean Asian groceries.

It's easier to find European and U.S. groceries and brands in Korea than it is to find Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, or even Japanese groceries and produce.  Sigh.

The shopping experience was fraught with funny moments.  Initially, I tried explaining in Korean to the shop lady what I needed, but as I had my shopping list written in English and Chinese, the urge to explain in Chinese was overwhelming and the cognitive dissonance was apparently way too much--and eventually both brain and tongue gave up and went blank for a while.  So, I started browsing, regrouped and cleared my brain of the Chinese, and then tried pointing to items that looked about right and asked the shop lady what they were, to confirm if my suspicions were correct.  As it turned out, however, she herself didn't really even know what some of the items on her shelves were!  Thankfully, in the end, I was able to find all I needed (except for five spice powder--I just subbed extra star anise and cloves) in that distant neighborhood far into the other side of Busan.

Back at home, I set about following Taiwan Duck's recipe for this absolutely delicious lǔ​ ròu fàn.  It turned out fragrant, sweet, and salty, perfectly hitting the mark of the classic Taiwanese flavor profile that I'd been missing.  Closing my eyes and savoring the flavors, I could really imagine I was back in Taiwan.  Hooray!

Lu Rou Fan

07 July 2013

Another spaghetti ai frutti di mare

Pasta ai Frutti di Mare 1

Summer is here, and with this season in Korea come the summer rains.  I still haven't quite gotten used to the fact that rains here generally mean warmer temperatures, so when I look outside and see the rain falling and hear it spattering against the windows, I get in the mood for something warm, savory, and tomato-y.

One recent rainy day, I cooked this lovely dish for dinner.  I needed some good comfort food.  Yes I confess, I was missing home--I suppose I should qualify that as "home-in-Santa-Barbara"--and this fantastic tomato seafood sauce over spaghetti, finished with fresh parsley and a hint of crushed red pepper flakes, always does the trick for my tastebuds and for my heart.

Pasta ai Frutti di Mare 2


Can you tell that twirled pasta with seafood is a theme with me?  Try some of these recipes!
Linguine with seafood, fresh fennel, and tomatoes 
Spaghetti ai Carciofi con Scampi 
Linguine ai Frutti di Mare
Seafood alla Puttanesca on Capellini