Friday, December 10, 2010

Exorcist coffee

Here's an interesting coffee shop I came across in Edae a few weekends ago*:
What kind of coffee would an exorcist drink?
Apparently teddy bears love it.
(*although note that 'exorcist' in the Korean context typically refers to someone like this and doesn't necessarily evoke something like this)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tip: Cheater's Omuraisu

Though I made this, I have to give credit to M. for the idea. Made this for lunch this past Tuesday. I had made the omuraisu (omelette rice) filling but using Jasmine rice instead of Korean short-grain, which I normally use, and I was worried it wasn't going to hold together very well (the grains are more distinct with Jasmine). Then, M. suggested I just make a flat omelette and drape it over the mound of rice (the cheese blanket, I should say, was his idea too). Isn't it purdy?:
Fried rice waiting with cheese blanket
Close-up on the masterpiece
Looks like some kind of sea creature...a horseshoe crab, perhaps?

This time I added canned diced tomatoes, sliced pyogo 표고 mushrooms (my current favorite Korean mushroom, kind of like a shitake, sooo good) and broccoli florets to the rice filling (whatever happened to be on hand).

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Recipe: Black Eyed Beans with Spinach and Dill (from Madhur Jaffrey)

For a description of the making of this recipe and ingredient notes, see this post.

Parveen Haroon's Black eyed Beans with Spinach and Dill
From Pakistan

From Madhur Jaffrey's "From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail." Clarkson Potter 2003.

1 cup dried black-eyed peas
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons corn or peanut oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
4 cloves garlic, chopped
15-20 fresh curry leaves, if available (I used 8 or so dried)
1 pound spinach, washed, finely chopped, and left to drain in a colander (I used one bunch, probably half a pound)
7-8 Tablespoons very finely chopped fresh dill
6 Tablespoons plain yoghurt (I used about 4 Tablespoons milk)

1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons coarsely ground, pure chili powder (gochu karu!)
1 dried lime or 1 fresh lime or 1 to 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Cover the beans generously with water and leave to soak overnight.  Drain them the next day, put in a pan with 4 cups of fresh water, and bring to a simmer.  Partially cover with a lid, and cook for 50 to 60 minutes, or until tender (mine took 2 hours). Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt.

Pour the oil into a large pan or wok and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, a matter of seconds, put in the garlic and curry leaves. Stir once, then add the spinach and dill. Stir and cook until most of the liquid in the spinach is absorbed. Reduce the heat to low and add 1 1/2 cups of water, the chili powder, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir. If using a dried lime, crack the lime and take out the dried black pulp. Remove any seeds and crush the pulp. Add it to the spinach. Now pour the contents of the spinach pan into the pan containing the beans. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Serve with tomato-garlic rice (separate recipe).

Rorschach Peas

I continue on my Indian/Curry cooking jag, inspired by Madhur Jaffrey and her cookbook, "From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail."  Tonight it was a Malaysian lentil curry (no photographic evidence of that, unfortunately...).

Everything I've made from that cookbook (4 recipes and counting) has turned out well. Last Sunday I decided to try a black-eyed pea (she calls them 'beans' in the book) curry seasoned with curry leaves and dill. I hadn't been planning on it, but while at the Foreign Food Mart in Itaewon I noticed they had some packs of dill (why didn't they have it when I needed it for my Thanksgiving rice dish? Oh well...) and decided to make it for lunch on Sunday. It was the dill that I was hesitant about...but it turned out to be one of the best curries that I've ever made, and one of M.'s favorites.

Also, happily, it was via this dish that I discovered the frozen limes in my freezer (brought to us from a friend coming back from an unnamed tropical location) were salvageable after all, and I didn't have to use the suggested lemon substitute (which I think wouldn't have been as good).

I served it with tomato rice, as she suggests, although without an oven I couldn't bake it and had to, instead, stir-fry the rice with the tomato-garlic sauce before serving. It was a great combination: The dill and curry leaves blended together beautifully to create a wonderful tang, and the milk (my yoghurt “substitute”) added a bit of creaminess. It was a bit watery, but this allowed for plenty of rich, delicious broth. The comforting tomato-garlic rice balanced the bold flavors of the peas.

It took a bit more time than I anticipated – even though I soaked the peas last night, they still took double the time she indicates to cook (2 hours instead of 50-60 minutes) – but the results were well-worth it. South Asian peas and rice! I could live on the stuff. (I'll post the recipe tomorrow; too good not to share).

A note on the ingredients: I got the dill and dried curry leaves at the Foreign Food Mart in Itaewon (where you can also get plain Denmark yoghurt in individual containers like they have at Costco; not sure why I didn't buy any at that time...). I was delighted to read in Jaffrey's headnote that she recommends Korean coarse-ground red pepper powder (gochu karu 고추가루) – something you can get in any supermarket here! If you can't get the Korean version, she recommends cayenne pepper as a substitute. 

A final note: M. thinks that this pea looks like Rorschach from Watchmen:

What do you think?

'Western' food: A one-two punch, take two: Chili King

I first heard about Chili King via Seoul Eats and was curious to try it, particularly the chili burgers. So I recruited K. again, and along with M., the three of us checked it out for dinner this past Thursday.
The restaurant, a short walk from Itaewon station, is small and cozy. The place threw K. off a little, because everything was written entirely in English only – the menu and the signboards. An army of hot sauces lined the shelf under the passthrough to the kitchen. We sat next to a group of three young guys, one of whom, judging from his Gophers jersey and Twins cap, was apparently a fellow Minnesotan.

Instead of a chili burger, I ended up ordering a bowl of chili, K. got a bacon cheeseburger and M. ordered a chili dog. The chili itself was a solid, meat-and-beans chili, evenly textured and spiced (I'd say on the low end of medium-spicy for me) topped with a bit of cheese and accompanied by sliced French bread. M. really enjoyed his chili dog accompanied by crinkly fries, and K. liked her burger (well, it had bacon on it, so it had that going for it at least).

The waitstaff were friendly and seemed to speak English pretty well. Unlike Butterfingers, Chili King is located relatively close to me (in Itaewon) and I could see going back there again, though it's a bit spendy for a bowl of chili (8,500 won). I don't know if I'd go back just for the chili, but I could see getting a chili dog again.

The following directions and info are from Seoul Eats :

The Chili King
010 6873 1304
Hours 11-11
Closed on Tuesday because the King goes to Three Alley Pub to have wings.

Directions go out Exit one of Itaewon Station and make the second right: make a right at "Pacific Shopping," you'll see OK2 Kitchen on your left. Go up the hill about 200 meters and you'll see it on the left.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Malaysian Street Food!

M. and I are heading to Thailand and Malaysia over the winter holiday this year. While researching our trip, I stumbled across this awesome site, which led me to this site: a series of short promotional videos for the street food nominees, in 12 different categories (scroll down to 'And the Winners Are').

Apparently the contest was held on December 3rd, but I don't think they've announced the winners yet.

I'm really looking forward to our trip! The food looks really interesting and delicious; a lot of old favorites and some new ones. I miss going to Malaysia Kopitiam...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Curry season

Lately, with the chilly weather setting in, all I've been wanting to cook at home is variations on the theme of Indian-style curry.

I got this recipe from a cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey, which I found a copy of in my university's library (somewhat unexpectedly). Here's the recipe, with my modifications and notes:

Chickpea, Potato and Cabbage Curry (from Guyana)
From Madhur Jaffrey's "From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail." Clarkson Potter 2003.

Serves 4 to 6

1 cup dried chickpeas
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 wiri-wiri peppers, 1/8 of a congo pepper (scotch bonnet; habanero), without seeds, or 3 bird's eye chiles, chopped
4 Tablespoons corn, peanut, or olive oil
1 Tablespoon hot curry powder
1 teaspoon roasted and ground cumin seeds
3 medium potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
1.5 teaspoons salt, or to taste
4.5 cups green cabbage, its leaves cut into 1/2-inch squares (or substitute 1 large bunch spinach, chopped)

Soak the chickpeas overnight in 5 cups of water. Drain the next day, put in a pan, add 5 cups of fresh water, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook very gently for 1 to 3 hours, or until the chickpeas are very tender. If the water in the pan threatens to dry out, add more boiling water. Drain the chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquid. Pour the liquid into a measuring cup and add enough water to make 2.5 cups.

Put the onion, garlic, peppers, and 4 Tablespoons of water into a blender and blend until smooth.

Pour the oil into a heavy, preferably nonstick, lidded pan and set over medium-high head. Put in the paste from the blender. Stir and fry for 2-3 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, removing the lid to stir frequently. Add the curry powder and roasted cumin. Stir once and put in the chickpeas, potatoes, salt, and the mixture of chickpea-cooking liquid and water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and cook gently, stirring now and then, for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Add the cabbage and a further 1 cup of water. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, or until the cabbage has just softened. Taste for salt before serving. My serving suggestions: Serve with pickle and rice, or tortillas browned over a gas flame and buttered (a good substitute for naan or chapatis, I've found) if you like.

My notes: I substituted one bunch of spinach (it's been so cheap and good these days) for the cabbage. If you use spinach, you don't need to cook the curry for as long at the end (maybe just 5 extra minutes) since spinach cooks so fast compared to cabbage.

Since I don't have a food processor, the garlic cloves were smashed with a mortar and pestle instead, and I finely minced the onion and chiles (I just substituted 2 green gochu with the seeds removed). I didn't add the 4 Tbsp water either.

For the "hot curry powder," I mixed about equal amounts (about one generous Tablespoon each) of 1) ground red pepper and 2) ground coriander.
Just went to the Foreign Food Mart in Itaewon to stock up on more chickpeas, and now I'm set to make this again next week! So good, cheap, and easy.

Cutest. Cake. Ever.

Look what my students got me for the last day of class last week!
A cute and delicious bear cake from Tous Les Jours!

I suspect they chose it because it 'bears' (haha) some resemblance to the bear on the bag that I used to collect money from them whenever they spoke Korean (1,000 won fine each time):
Am I a cruel teacher? Well, considering I used that money to buy them all treats on the last day, probably not...

'Western' food: A one-two punch, take one: Butterfinger Pancakes

 As much as I love Korean food, sometimes I just crave something from back home, like a proper (quote unquote) American breakfast. Before moving here, I wondered what I would miss the most, and actually predicted one thing right: bacon. Real bacon: not the uncured samgyupsal that everyone is crazy about here and that I also enjoy, but salty, cured, crispy bacon. Not only do I miss bacon, but also biscuits and gravy (hard for me to make with only a teeny tiny toaster oven) and good sausages. I can do eggs at home – we have a lot of British-ish breakfasts consisting of fried eggs, toast-and-jam, and baked beans (thanks to HomePlus a.k.a. Tesco's in Korea) and sometimes do pancakes or potato hash, but it's those breakfast meats that I typically crave.

So last Sunday, my friend K. and I decided to go to Butterfingers, a favorite of K.'s. They have two branches, and we went to the one near Gangnam station. K's a bacon fiend, more than me – she tells me that for 6 months while studying and living in the U.S., she ate 10 pieces of bacon at each meal! (sometimes in fried rice, she says, but still) – and Butterfingers is a place she can go to satisfy her cravings. The atmosphere was bright and open, and reminded me a bit of The Diner in D.C., although a little more upscale. The menu was huge and everything looked delicious (chive waffle with sauteed cherry tomatoes and bacon on the side; corned beef hash platter; blueberry pancakes). As expected, it was a bit pricey. We didn't get any coffee because the prices started at 5,000 won for a regular drip coffee. At last, I decided to order my breakfast a la carte (spiced pecan pancakes with apple compote; hashbrowns; bacon), which added up to be around 12,000 won. The two pancakes alone cost 5,500 won. K. ordered a waffle platter with eggs, potatoes, sausage and bacon for about the same price, and we shared our food and gushed over the bacon. My food came out on three separate plates, probably because I ordered a la carte, which made it a bit hard to eat the pancakes; serving it all on one plate would have made more sense to me.
 The food was good, but not awesome. Basically, like something you'd get at a good diner back home. The hashbrowns were pre-frozen and not cooked very well; they could have been crispier. I preferred K.'s potatoes (homefries), although even those could have been better (a bit undercooked but well-seasoned). I could have made those pancakes at home myself, and I agree with this review - the portion should have made it a side order. The bacon and sausage were a highlight: the former crispy-chewy and smoky, the latter plump, juicy, and mildly spiced (kind of like a weiswurst). At those prices, and the fact it's in Gangnam, I wouldn't go regularly, but it'd be a nice place for the occasional treat.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What to do with leftover eggwash?

Whenever I made something breaded that requires an egg wash, I always end up either tossing the extra beaten egg immediately, or put it in the fridge but toss it later anyway because I forget it's there and it goes bad.

Now, though, I know exactly what to do.

The other day I was making breaded chicken cutlets to go with pasta for lunch, and it dawned on me:
Why not just mix the leftover beaten egg in with the hot pasta in the pan, Carbonara-style?

So I did (being careful to cook the egg, stirring constantly, so, not exactly Carbonara...) and the results were really tasty: the egg coated each strand and gave it a silky texture.

The pasta sauce itself was a riff on a green olive pantry sauce that I've been making a lot lately (taking advantage of my huge jars of pimento-stuffed green olives from Costco): chopped green olives, minced garlic, minced green hot peppers (고추) and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

All those times I squandered that extra egg...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Restaurant 유라시아 (Eurasia): Russian Food in Edae

Typically, when M. and I want to eat Russian food here in Seoul, "Edae" is not really a place that springs to mind (we usually go to Caravan in Dongdaemun). Therefore, I was a bit surprised when my friend T. called me up last Saturday and suggested we join him and some friends for Russian Edae. I wondered where it was, exactly, and how the food compared to what we were used to getting in Dongdaemun.

Turns out that the place, Restaurant Eurasia, is right across the street from Sinchon Station and the Megabox, on the 4th floor of the 뉴포트빌딩 ("Newport Building").

The food itself was pretty inexpensive: Each dish we ordered cost between 6,000-8,000 won, and the portions were pretty generous. I ordered the golubsy, and M. ordered these meat patties whose name I have embarrassingly forgotten. For appetizers/things to share with the table, we got an order of vinagrette (beet salad) and lamb pelmeni (dumplings) in broth. One of T's friends ordered a layered herring salad that came out with a pretty latticework of pink mayonnaise:

 Herring salad
 Lamb pelmeni
 Golubtsy (cabbage rolls)
 Meat patties with mashed potatoes and dipping sauce

While the cabbage rolls were comforting and just the ticket for my hangover (thanks to Bar Da and its Manhattans the previous night), the flavor wasn't too distinctive. The potatoes that came with M's meal were either instant or overseasoned with broth (the texture made me think it was the former), and the patties themselves were kind of fatty. The lamb pelmeni was probably my favorite: well-stuffed and not overly seasoned, and the wrappers weren't overcooked. I also enjoyed the roasted pepper dipping sauce that came with the lamb shashlik (kabob/고치) and the meat patties, and the vinagrette with its chunks of dill pickle.
However, though the portions, prices, and proximity might cause me to return, the atmosphere, with its decently loud dance music, huge booths and glaring white furniture lit by eerie blue lights, was a bit jarring and not exactly conducive to dinnertime conversation. Our server forgot to bring out one entree and we had to ask for it again. Also, I was not a fan of the slippery square white plates with upturned edges, which looked nice enough and I'm sure work great for sushi or other finger foods, but are less suited for eating food with a knife and fork (my utensils kept slipping off the edge and clattering onto my lap; maybe I should just chalk that up to my general clumsiness though...).

After dinner we wandered through Edae browsing the various stalls and finally decided to go for waffles (2,000 won each). T. and I got green tea ones filled with cream and jam, and M. ordered a frozen yoghurt-stuffed one.  Yum.

Restaurant Eurasia:
Line 2, Ewha station exit 2
"뉴포트빌딩" 4F
(02) 393-7011

Waffles: "와플공장" in Edae...not sure how to get there, exactly...

JT in Hongdae

A few weeks ago, we went to see 'The Social Network.' While the movie itself was kind of hit-or-miss, my husband and I agreed that Justin Timberlake's portrayal of Shawn Parker, the founder of Napster (casting irony) was a highlight.

Then the other night on our way to Bar Da in Hongdae, I saw this:

 Wonder if the burgers are delicious, like JT says they are...?

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Why did my husband send me this link?

Which got me here?

Holy Land Deli! Now I'm really homesick...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Serendipitous Black Tofu & Bo Ssam with Seoul Eats at 오수 (Osu)

Yesterday afternoon, in the midst of an epic and cathartic trans-continental G-chat with an old friend, I decided to take up Seoul Eats on his offer (via mailing list) of dinner in Insadong. I've been meaning to get in touch with him for quite some time regarding the cooking classes at O'ngo Food Communications, but scheduling and studying and etcetera have conspired against me up until this point.

So last night, we met up at his cooking school where I met another new friend and we enjoyed some coffee (real coffee!) and a food-centric chat before heading off to the restaurant.

Before getting to the restaurant, we had to make a detour because Dan had gotten cheated out of a 야채진빵(yachae jin ppang/vegetable steamed bun), at a nearby 만두 (mandu) shop the day before (I forgot to take a picture of the sign, so the name escapes me...). Instead of a savory meat-and-veggie bun, he received a red bean one. As someone with a salt tooth who is frequently disappointed by the overwhelming number of sweet foods disguised as savory here (case in point: garlic bread at Paris Baguette), I could appreciate his frustration. However, all three of us benefited from the oversight: The fluffy bun was stuffed full of ground pork and sweet cabbage and my favorite, short lengths of transparent noodle, with a hint of ginger in the mix.

After clearing that up, it was on to the main event. After weaving our way through the alleys of Insadong, we arrived at 오수 (Osu), with '흑두부' (heuk dubu/black tofu) advertised on the window.  Shortly after ordering, our banchan arrived, followed by our meal (which, as Dan pointed out, was presented on a kimchi pot lid): a large platter of 보쌈 (bossam/sliced pork) with raw oysters and black tofu.

The oysters were served on a bed of strips of dried radish (무) tossed in a spicy red sauce. Though I'd sampled this before, I previously thought it was strips of fruit, not radish. Dan explained that the radish is cut into strips and then dried before being used in this dish, which imparts a sweetness to the vegetable. This was my first time having bo ssam with oysters; the fresh taste of the oysters cut through the fattiness of the meat. With just a little ssam jang and a slice of raw garlic, it made a great ssam(wrap).

All three of us agreed that the oysters were the best: fresh, clean-tasting and just a bit briny. The tofu itself, other than being a bit nuttier than the regular white tofu I'm used to having, was not all that distinctive.

Since we were going for tofu, I had expected something lighter than what we ended up ordering. Bo ssam is something that I can't eat more than a few times a year, as it's so heavy. Overall though: Good food, comfortable atmosphere, and interesting company. I'm glad I answered that email.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Election Day update

It's election day here in Seoul and I figured I'd update a bit. I'm back after a month abroad (Hong Kong for a week, and then three weeks in the U.S. visiting family and friends). The weather changed noticeably while I was gone; it's now getting balmy and slightly sticky and there's that familiar slightly sweet smell in the air that I recognize from Shanghai, Tokyo, and Thailand - not sure what the origin is, but it makes me feel pleasantly nostalgic.

Before I left on vacation, I was in a bit of a cooking and food rut. After a month of sampling Hong Kong treats and my parents' cooking, I feel inspired and back on track, with lots of ideas for recipes bouncing around in my head.

Seeing the fruit and vegetable sellers out on the streets has also inspired me. On Monday night I made beef and barley soup, along with a salad consisting of cherry tomatoes from a vendor around the Grand Mart at Sinchon Rotary, in addition to zucchini and lots of celery leaves in a lemon, soy sauce and sesame oil dressing. Here's a photo:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

ZenKimchi's 100 Korean foods you gotta try (from 2008)

Since finishing up my work for my second semester of teaching here, I've had more time to poke around on the Internet. While looking up some information on Mary eats for my toast post, I happened to revisit her posting of ZenKimchi's "100 Korean foods you gotta try" (from 2008, original post by ZenKimchi, on September 16, 2008, can be found here)

I was not new to Korean food when I moved here. I've been a long time fan of kimchi since my dad introduced it to me when I was a kid. Then, while living in Seattle and D.C., I learned more about the cuisine by exploring the markets and restaurants in both places. A decent number of these are things I tried before I came to Seoul. Currently, I'm looking to expand my horizons even more. I thought posting this list now would be a good way to both get a sense of what I've tried so far, and prioritize my "to-eat" list for my time here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Toast (토스트)

Before I moved to Seoul, the word 'toast' evoked something like this:

Now, I've added a new association:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Flight of the Condorchords

I've been informed that the song I was taken with in G&B the other night was 'El Condor Pasa', originally a Peruvian song but famously covered by Simon and Garfunkel on 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'.

And now for some cross-linguistic word association; Wikipedia tells me that "El Condor Pasa" means 'flight of the condor'--> Flight of the Conchords!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail..."

Last night, after a semi-successful afternoon of shopping, as it neared dinnertime and the sum total of my food consumption for the day was a grilled cheese sandwich at home and a late afternoon snack of kalbi mandu from Mapo Mandu, I was desperate for something to eat. On top of this, it was starting to rain. While on line 2 heading towards home, I thought of something.

Some time back, a coworker of mine had recommended a goulash place in Hongdae, on the hill next to the park where the Free Market is held on Saturdays, in one of the alleys there. At that moment on the subway, tired, hungry and wet, it sounded perfect.

At G&B (Goulash and Bread), for 3,500 won (they used to have a sign advertising 2,500 but everyone in the place last night was paying 3,500...) you get all-you-can-eat rolls, goulash, and coffee. I was full after two bowls and rolls.

The rolls were large, crusty, and fresh, and the goulash consisted of a peppery, tangy tomato broth holding chunks of potato, carrot, and tender beef, and additionally seasoned with caraway seeds.

It's run, as far as I can tell, by a friendly middle-aged couple, and it seemed popular: the cozy space was packed with six people in addition to me, on a rainy weekday evening. I leisurely ate my goulash, listened to a medley of melancholy ballads (in English, Mandarin, and other languages), and enjoyed two cups of coffee. The title of this post comes from one of the songs, which I'd never heard before. Other lyrics included: "I'd rather be a hammer than a nail; a forest than a street..."

I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a cheap, tasty, and filling meal. Thanks again, L!

L'atelier doux review (thanks to ZenKimchil)

A little shameless self-promotion...

ZenKimchi dining published a quick review of mine a couple of weeks ago, for an Italian restaurant in Apgujeong called L'atelier doux. You can read the review here

Saturday, April 3, 2010

First street sweet potato in seoul (it's about time)

All winter I'd been wanting to purchase a roasted sweet potato off the street, just like I did during the chilly months when I was living in Shanghai. The months passed without my craving being satisfied, and the weather had nearly become too warm for it when, last Tuesday, M and I were walking around Apgujeong in the late afternoon and I spotted a vendor and decided to get one:

These were actually steamed. They were really sweet, caramelly (for lack of a better word), and delicious.

At 1,000 won for one I think they were kinda spendy (about double what I paid in China) but then again it was in Apgujeong.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Spring!

@ a cafe in Hongdae

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Seoul Cooking: Tomato sauce with anchovies and celery leaves

Since we're on Easter break, I'm at home for the day and didn't feel like going grocery shopping. With the remaining can of stewed tomatoes left in our pantry, I decided to make some pasta sauce for lunch. At the last minute, I threw in some of the leaves of the celery that we bought around Daelim station this past Sunday before they went off.

The result might be considered the Italian-Chinese cousin of my gochu chamchi spaghetti sauce. The celery leaves and lemon, both last minute additions, melded with the other ingredients to create a vibrant, tangy sauce that offset the saltiness of the anchovies (and even though I did add salt to this, you certainly don't need to). "Zesty" would also be an apt (albeit overused) descriptor. It was not unlike the spaghetti puttanesca that I had at l'atelier doux in Gangnam earlier this week.

Tomato sauce with anchovies and celery leaves

1 can (28 oz) stewed tomatoes, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic
1 medium-large onion, chopped
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 small or one large celery stalk, minced
1 2-ounce can anchovy fillets, finely chopped - Being a salt fiend/anchovy lover, I used the whole can, but you could just as easily use half or three quarters of the can
3 generous handfuls celery leaves, chopped
lemon zest, 1/4 of a lemon
2-3 generous squeezes of fresh lemon juice
red pepper flakes (I used gochukaru), to taste
ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Then add the garlic and onion and cook until the onion is soft and the garlic starts to brown (I like that toasted flavor). Add the chopped celery during the last few minutes of cooking the garlic-onion mixture. Next, add the tomatoes, anchovy, hot pepper flakes and black pepper. Simmer until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, put a large saucepan of water on to boil. When the water boils, add your pasta of choice and cook until al dente; drain and set aside. If the sauce isn't finished yet, mix the cooked pasta with a little olive oil so it doesn't stick together. When the sauce has thickened, add the celery leaves, stir, and cook for a few minutes until the flavors start blending. Finally, stir in the lemon zest and juice. To serve, toss the pasta with the sauce until coated and top with remaining sauce. Makes approximately 4-5 servings (depending on how saucy you like your pasta).


I was so excited to share this that I started writing this entry before I was finished eating it!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mapo Jokbal

M and I went to this place for dinner last of the best meals I've had since we moved here. First time having jokbal:

More later...

Monday, January 25, 2010

A couch, a t.v., and tuna melts

Yesterday, thanks to the generosity of a coworker of mine and her husband, who are moving house (and seriously downsizing), we acquired several pieces of furniture and a few household items. Among other things, we now have a couch! And a t.v.! And a desk, which I am now typing on!

And, additionally, something which M was particularly excited for: a toaster oven. Prior to this, we only had three gas burners and made toast one piece of bread at a time in a pan. Now, he can make his beloved broiler sandwiches. For lunch today we had open-faced tuna melts, the tuna spiced with ground coriander, garam masala and a bit of gochu karu (red pepper powder). Very tasty. Looking forward to seeing what else we can make in that toaster oven.

Thanks again L and D!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Peanut Butter Squid

Seen in Edae a few months ago. I have yet to try this but I like the cute sign.

Seoul Cooking: Hobak 호박 (Pumpkin) Chili

Here's my recipe for hobak chili. I invented this one evening when we were having a vegetarian coworker of M's over for dinner. It's very similar to other squash chili recipes that I've made in the past, except that I prefer this one because of the chestnutty taste of the hobak. It also thickens up the chili nicely.

My understanding is that "hobak" is a general term for squash and thus includes zucchini, but here it refers to kabocha.

Hobak chili

2-3 cups kabocha squash, cubed (you can leave the skin on)
one large onion, chopped
one carrot, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can stewed tomatoes, chopped, with juice
3 "regular size" (15.5 oz?) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
chili flakes, to taste (I used gochu karu, Korean dried ground red chili)
2 generous spoons (I used regular spoons) ground cumin
salt to taste - generous teaspoon?
ground black pepper to taste
garnishes: chopped scallions; sour cream

In a large pot, sautee the onions and garlic until soft. Add the carrot and sautee. When the carrot is half cooked or so add the squash, stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the seasonings: red pepper powder, cumin, salt, black pepper. Finally, add the tomatoes and a couple cups of water (?) to cover the ingredients. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft, the chili thickens up and the flavors meld. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

Serve with sour cream, green onions, and saltines, if you like.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Korean Food Encyclopedia: Soups! (Part 1: 순대국)

One thing that we discovered shortly after arriving here is how much Koreans love to eat soup. In any kind of weather, and of every conceivable variety: thin broths, thick, hearty stews, hot soups, cold soups, vegetarian soups, meat soups, etc. Previously we had known about and fallen in love with sundubu while living in D.C., but other than that I had eaten very few Korean soups, and was certainly unaware of how central they were to the cuisine. Guk, tang, jang, jjigae: there are at least four names for soups/stews in Korean as well, and, similar to mandu, I am in the process of untangling their referents (jjigae is basically stew; the others seem a little more ambiguous).

Since there are so many, I'm not going to make this an exhaustive post, but will start instead with one of our current favorites: sundaeguk, or blood-sausage soup.

Before I moved here, I had tried sundae(pronounced "soon-day") sliced with a salt-and-pepper mix for dipping, but never in soup. Here you can also frequently find it as a street snack mixed with bright red ddeokbokki sauce. Having tried all three, I am currently partial to sundaeguk, partially because of its accompaniments.

Side dishes

Radish kimchi and a dish of barley (in addition to white rice)

Raw chilies with ssam jang


One restaurant serves this delicious, smoky pepper paste with it (and I keep forgetting the name; when I remember I'll edit this entry).

Although so far I have only eaten at two sundaeguk restaurants, from what I can tell, one commonality is this shrimp sauce that is served with it.

I'm looking forward to trying other versions. Any recommendations?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Seoul Cooking: 고추참치스파계티 (Gochu chamchi spaghetti)

Happy 2010! With a new year ahead, one semester at my new job under my belt, and a fairly reliable Internet connection, I feel like I can get started writing in here again. We'll see how that unfolds...

Some readers might be curious about what I've been cooking these four-odd months since M and I relocated to Seoul. As it turned out, not much to begin with, and not nearly as much as I did in D.C. since then.

When we first moved here back in late August, we had to wait a full month before we could move into our apartment, and after that, it took us another month before we were able to buy a fridge. Therefore, there was at least a full month where we were living in a one-room without a fridge and eating in restaurants for every meal, every day, something that I had never done before. Since I was used to cooking for us in D.C. and had been able to cook over the summer, it felt a little odd at first, but slowly it became a routine, and a welcome chance to practice our reading skills.

During this restaurant period, I started noticing what was available and where, in preparation for the increasingly anticipated arrival of our fridge. By the time we were finally able to purchase said fridge, M and I had decided that it made the most economic sense to cook non-Korean dishes at home and continue to eat Korean food out. This has led to a periodic exploration of dishes that I used to make back home, but with a Korean twist, using ingredients that are readily available and cheap here.

One of my favorites so far has been the following recipe, which I will call, for lack of more imaginative title, "Spicy Tuna Spaghetti Sauce." (I was just speaking with a coworker earlier today about how many Korean dish names don't translate elegantly into English). It utilizes 고추참치 (gochu chamchi) - canned tuna spiced with Korean red pepper and packed with carrots (not sure how crazy I am about the carrot bits but the addition of red pepper is tasty):

The following recipe is basically a riff on my normal tomato sauce:

Spicy Tuna Spaghetti Sauce (Gochu chamchi spaghetti)
Serves 3-4

1 can of tomato sauce or a can of whole tomatoes, chopped, with juice
1 carrot, scrubbed/peeled and diced
1 onion, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil (other cooking oil will do)
1 can of gochu chamchi – tuna with red pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
Cracked black pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and the onion and fry, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and slightly browned. Then, add the carrots and cook, stirring more frequently, until the carrots start to soften. Finally, add the tomatoes, tuna, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to as low as it can go and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have blended (10-15 minutes). If the sauce thickens too much, add a little water and stir. Meanwhile, boil water for pasta in a separate pot. When the water boils, cook the spaghetti until al dente, then drain. Serve the sauce over spaghetti.


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