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.


Related Posts with Thumbnails