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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