Friday, April 30, 2010

Recipe: Yuja Chicken

As spring melts away winter, yujacha (Korean citron marmalade tea, 유자차) and other hot drinks have less of what it takes to slake your thirst. But remnants in that jar of yujacha mix lingering from winter in the pantry can produce more than tea. This recipe enlivens a Chinese American food favorite — orange chicken — with tangier citron and zippier Korean hot red pepper.

2 chicken breasts
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 c. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1/4 c. yujacha
1/4 c. soju
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ginger juice
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tsp Korean pepper powder

Rinse the chicken breasts with cold water.  Pat dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Melt butter in small saucepan on medium heat. Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the yujacha and heat until bubbling. Add the soju and spices. Pour sauce over chicken. Cover and bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake until tender, about 20 minutes more.

If you don't want to wait over an hour to eat dinner, you can cut the chicken into chopstick-friendly pieces, dredge them in seasoned flour and fry them until they're crispy. Place the crispy chicken pieces into your yujacha sauce until they are coated. Serve with rice and banchan.

I tested the recipe on my husband. He enjoyed the recipe's sourness. If you prefer your "sweet and sour" on the sweet side, feel free to throw out the ginger or add a little bit more sugar to the mix.

This recipe was originally posted on Zenkimchi Food Journal

Citron Honey Tea on FoodistaCitron Honey Tea

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kogi-inspired Kimchi Bulgogi Taco recipe in 3 minutes

Many people have been inspired by the Kogi truck phenomenon. Whether they have tasted one of their iconic Kimchi tacos or not, people are working hard to develop their own version of Kogi's famous Korean/Mexican fusion tacos and burritos. 

This Kimchi Bulgogi Taco recipe was posted on YouTube by Han a.k.a "Asian Like Me". He's a Korean doctoral student currently living in Massachusetts. He called this recipe a "beta version" and it does appear to be a work in progress. If you love Korean fusion food, check it out. Go check out his YouTube channel and his blog on WordPress as well.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Recipe: Buzz Button Browines

Szechuan buttons (Tamar1973 photo)

I enjoy a challenge. It's fundamental for a food blogger, especially one who spends a lot of time coming up with original, tasty Korean fusion recipes.

As I was looking around on The Foodie Blogroll, of which I am a member, I noticed that MarxFoods was offering free samples of their dried mushrooms to Foodie Blogroll members. On the MarxFoods website I found the company is offering samples of an even more exotic food item called Szechuan buttons.

They threw down the gauntlet with this challenge:
Now is your chance to experiment with the buzz buttons.  We will be sending out some free samples to bloggers who want to either develop a recipe for their blog or guest post with one on ours. 
I totally forgot about the mushrooms and sent in my request for the Szechuan button samples. They sent me by overnight courier a package of 10 Szechuan buttons, which would cost over $13 on the market.

Now that I had these cute little yellow flower buds staring at me and 14 days to use them before they spoiled, I came up with a recipe to showcase their unusual sensory qualities. According to MarxFoods,
Eating a few tiny petals from a Szechuan button — pinched off between thumb and forefinger or cut using a knife or shears — will lead to a tingling sensation … almost like mild voltage or bubbles from an effervescent beverage popping on the tongue.
You can watch some Washington Post writers get the shock of their lives on this post from 2007.

As I looked at the recipe others had submitted I noticed an important pattern. Szechuan buttons are not an ingredient added at the beginning. These are best used as a flavor enhancer or a  garnish, a flourish before serving. Putting them into a warm or hot sauce will not diminish their tongue-numbing qualities.

I had to come up with a recipe in which these little "toothache flowers" would be the star. Therefore, no garlic, ginger, gochujang (Korean spicy red pepper paste) or hot paprika could be a part of the recipe either. I had two weeks to develop and test my recipes before publishing.

I live in Sonoma County, which is world renowned for its wine, olive oil and cheese.  Sonoma's northern neighbor Mendocino County is world famous for an agricultural product that is much more counter-cultural:  marijuana.

Mendocino County is also part of Northern California's legendary Emerald Triangle, which grows tons of high-grade pot for personal use (with a doctor's permission) and for sale (supposedly for those too sick and feeble to grow their own). People having been growing it up there for over 30 years (well before it became "legal" in California) and marijuana makes up 2/3 of Mendocino County's economy, according to CNBC

Since the Szechuan buttons are nicknamed "buzz buttons", I thought I'd bake a legal, fun alternative to marijuana brownies, first made famous in the 1968 film I Love You, Alice B. Toklas.

Brownies with Buzz Button Garnish

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar (I used turbinado sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x9 inch baking pan (or line with wax paper). 

In a medium bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

Then gradually stir the dry mixture into into the wet mixture until well blended.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan. Allow them to cool before cutting into squares.

Sprinkle with copious amounts of Szechuan button flowers and give your friends a legal buzz!

My Brownies on FoodistaMy Brownies

Szechuan Buttons on FoodistaSzechuan Buttons

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Boston Kimchi Festival at Theodore Parker Church

"The Theodore Parker Church in West Roxbury hosted the first annual Greater Boston Kimchi Festival on March 21. 2010. Local Kimchi makers gathered to share and compare recipes, while locals sampled a wide array of traditional and American Kimchis, and learned to make their own. Chefs Phil Paik and Alex Lewin judged the competition."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Recipe: Kimchi grilled cheese sandwich

This is inspired by the Eighth Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational in Los Angeles, Calif. I can't make it down there to participate officially, but I can compete in spirit.

The Kama Sutra

The Kama Sutra sammich is any grilled cheese that is made with exotic bread or contains any other ingredients than the above mentioned.
The only rules to the Kama Sutra sammich are as follows: The sammich MUST be grilled and the internal ingredients must be at least 60% CHEESE. Other than that, this is a freestyle category, so go for it. This is where you can create any savory flavor concept your twisted mind will allow, so long as the internal ingredients are at least 60% cheese.
The Kama Sutra category is not only the most liberal, but also the most popular. So you must keep in mind that the competition is fierce and you could be up against the largest block of competitors, so you better get it right!
It is in this spirit that I submit the following recipe:
2 slices whole wheat bread
2 slices cheddar cheese
1/8 - 1/4 cup kimchi, finely diced
1 tablespoons butter, divided

Heat your cast iron skillet on medium heat (so the cheese melts and you don't burn your bread). Spread butter on one side of each of the bread slices. Place one slice of bread, butter side down in your pan. Add one slice of cheese and kimchi and then the other slice of cheese. Place other slice of bread, butter side up on top. Grill until lightly browned and flip over; continue grilling until cheese is melted.

If you use a panini machine, you can save yourself the flipping step and some cooking time, too. You can even cut the butter out of the recipe totally if your panini machine is non-stick.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Korean Beef Jerky

According to the New York Times, Robert Kim has brought his grandmother's recipe for sun-dried beef to America.

Most people consider beef jerky (or any type of meat jerky) the specialty of Native Americans and those who came here after them but Koreans have been making their own version of jerky for many centuries before Columbus sailed the ocean blue in search of a western route to Asia and her spices.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Green Tea extract useful for weight management

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a low dose of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an extract commonly found in green tea, helped overweight and obese men (with an average BMI of 31) increase fat oxidation by 33 per cent.

The study also found that green tea's natural caffeine must be present for the compound to work its fat usage properties.

For more information about the specifics of this study as well as other studies that have reached similar conclusions, check out Green tea extract effective for weight loss at low doses.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Korean Ginseng Tincture

If you can't afford to fly to Seoul to pick up some healthy ginseng, consider this less costly alternative. Photo taken by Keira Bishop, discovered at
If you need a a good source of super charged Korean Ginseng in a healthy tonic tincture and you can't afford to fly all the way to Gyeong-dong Oriental medicine market in Cheongryang-ri near Dongdaemun in Seoul, consider Tonic Tinctures in Santa Cruz, Calif. According to their website, "A tonic tincture is a super potent extract of a tonic herb," which means that it's much more potent then simply dropping some ginseng root in hot water and sipping.

Ginseng is one of Korea's wonder herbs, used for thousands of years in Korean traditional medicine for mood enhancement, increase in mental stamina, lowering blood sugar, lowering cholesterol and immune system stimulation. Korean herbalists say that the elderly or those who are physically weak stand to gain the most from ginseng's heat-generative properties. The young, particularly women of child-bearing age, should steer clear unless under the guidance of an herbalist.

The tincture does contain some alcohol, around 25%-30% but no more than 35% according to their website. One serving is 1-3 drops so this amount of alcohol would not be sufficient to cause any ill effects unless one is allergic to alcohol.

The Korean Ginseng in the Korean Ginseng Supreme doesn't play solo in this tonic. It includes Chinese Red Ginseng, Red Jujube Dates and Notoginseng. Your order will be made fresh within days or weeks of the time of your order. They take orders from their shop on

Monday, April 12, 2010

Roy Choi sits down: Chego Restaurant

Tasting Table LA reports that Korean-American taco chef Roy Choi has opened his own "brick and mortar" restaurant in LA. Called Chego, the restaurant features "LA goodness and plenty of perfectly cooked rice — or, if you prefer a more poetic description, it’s simple peasant food that has all your important food groups lovingly manhandled into a single bowl for under ten bucks."  In other words, their menu offers four different fusion version of the Korean classic bibimbap, served in eco-friendly disposable bowls as well as five appetizers.

Kogi announced on their blog the restaurant had its public opening on April 7, 2010

They're open Tue-Sat, 6PM-Midnight at 3300 Overland Ave., Palms, if you want to go check them out and have a seat in their new LA digs.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Behind the video: Kimchi Colcannon (kimchi mashed potatoes)

This recipe has two sources of inspiration. The first was Debby Lee's kimchi smashed potatoes from her restaurant Gyenari, in Culver City, Calif. It debuted in September 2009.

However, instead of using buttermilk, carrot and sweet potato, I simplified it to give the kimchi the starring role. Comically, the end product was so orange, my in-laws thought I had used sweet potatoes in the dish when they were "allowed" back into their own kitchen to test out the results after the recording.

The second inspiration was an Irish dish called colcannon, which is a mixture of mashed potatoes, cabbage, onions and often bacon, served with a well of melted butter in the middle. Colcannon is commonly served on St. Patrick's Day on both sides of the Atlantic. Think of this recipe as the Korean-American version.

On a production note, we tried to capture the sound of sizzle when the bacon was frying, but it didn't quite work. I think we'll have to intentionally put a microphone close to the action, rather than relying on the lapel mic to record the sound.

Kimchi colcannon is flavorful but not overly spicy. The potatoes and cream do a good job of soothing the tongue from the otherwise very spicy kimchi. A relative of mine who has a hypersensitive stomach was able to eat this without putting her stomach under siege. It was the first time she was able to eat kimchi without regrets, which made me very happy.

If you like the apron I'm wearing in the video, check out the RetroHome store on

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Idiot-proof" Korean meals with Destination Dinners

Destination Dinners preportioned recipe kits might be your kind of Korean food if you have wanted to try your hand at making bulgogi (stewed sweet and garlicy beef) or japchae (sesame oil and garlic sauce with spinach over cellophane noodles) but aren't quite sure you want to spend a lot of money buying items like sesame oil, gochujang (spicy red pepper paste) and soy sauce in bulk. (And you can't afford roundtrip airfare to Seoul.)

Destination Dinners' prefab recipe kits do all the work for you, from the recipe, to the ingredients. They even provide a shopping list for fresh ingredients, table setting suggestions and Tea & Trivia (information on origins of the dish).
It generally will take 3 - 5 days to process the order and another 2 - 3 days for the shipping. If there is a backorder or delay, we will notify you via email.

If you're wary of getting singed from a failed foray into Korean cuisine, paying $25 to $30 for a ready-rationed recipe kit might be a cost-effective way to kindle a craving for Korean food.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Surviving Passover: Kimchi Matzah Ball Soup

Passover is not Passover without matzah, it's required.  But year after year of the same food gets really old. Especially when it's matzah. After all, the Bible calls it "the bread of affliction" (Deut. 16:3) for a reason.  explains matzah this way, "The event organizer apparently neglected to choose a 'taste theme' for this evening's gathering: matzah is flavorless. By design. Matzah is 'pauper's bread' and may not be seasoned, nor is one allowed to add eggs, sugar, or oil to its dough."

There's nothing more bland than "Kosher for Passover" matzah. I could understand any foodie who said to him or herself, "Why bother?" Well, if it was just a holiday about food, I'd think it was a waste of time and a torment to my tastebuds.

However, tells us, "Matzah is more than a food, it's the way we relive the Exodus."

For any good Jew (or Torah-observant Christian), reliving the Exodus every year during Passover is a spiritual exercise. Just as our muscles need physical exercise, our spirit needs religious exercises and Passover is one of those yearly "spiritual exercises."

Over the years, Jewish women all over the world have come up with creative recipes using matzah so you can eat the same thing for seven days in a row without feeling like you're eating the same thing for seven days in a row. Their enterprising spirit has made fulfilling the mitzvah of matzah a little more enjoyable.  Matzah Ball Soup is one of those recipes that some creative Jewish woman developed centuries ago to make matzah flavorful and digestible.

The internet is full of basic recipes for Matzah Ball Soup but I tested out my idea first by throwing some kimchi into a batch of Manischewitz Matzo Ball and Soup Mix. If you're inclined to make the matzah soup from scratch, try Oma's Fabulous Matzo Ball Soup. (The name of the recipe alone makes it worth adding to your culinary playbox. )

I added 1/2 of chopped sour kimchi and about 1/2 cup of the remaining sour kimchi juice (because that's all I had left) and let it come to a boil and then simmer with the matzah balls for approximately 20 minutes. As the film developed on the top, I skimmed it off. With the kimchi and kimchi juice in the soup, the soup scum had a strange bright pink or red color but I kept skimming until the broth was mostly clear.

The matzah balls started out the size of small rubber balls but expanded as they cooked in the broth, until they were about the size of  small tennis balls.

The results were flavorful but not overwhelmingly spicy. Half a cup of kimchi and 1/2 cup of kimchi juice in over 2 quarts of broth is not going to light your mouth on fire. This is not kimchi jjigae. It's a mild to medium spice level and could easily be eaten by people who are scared of spicy cuisine. If you can handle the heat, add more kimchi and kimchi juice to kick it up.

Jewish Penicillin on FoodistaJewish Penicillin

Monday, April 5, 2010

Stained Glass Pojagi

If you love the look of Korean cloth pojagi, consider this stained glass version on sale at This stained glass panel, sold at the online store called The Emerald Forest, is based near Nashville, TN.
The simple geometric shapes will complement all decorating styles, from modern to traditional, mission or vintage decor along with the neutral brown shades.
The designer calls herself  "a 'nut' for texture" and you can see that in not only the different colors of stained glass but the different textures as well.

Update: this stained glass item sold on April 6, 2010, the day after this article posted. However, if you use the search term "pojagi" on, or bojagi, you will find other examples of this uniquely Korean artform for sale.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Congrats to KBS for winning the Peabody Award for Noodle Road

KBS' The Noodle Road wins the prestigious Peabody Award for their comprehensive history of the Noodle from it's origins in Western Asia to dinner plates all over the world. Photo courtesy of KBS.
KBS's The Noodle Road won the Peabody Award in the category of art and culture for Connecting Asia's Kitchens. The Peabody Award announcement called it, "the who, where, what, why and how of Asia's culinary staple, rolled into one visually delicious hour." It was one of two Asian programs to win the award this year.

The Peabody Award is the oldest and most prestigious prize in electronic media, including broadcast journalism (TV and Radio) as well as documentary film-making, educational programming and internet programming as well.

If you want to see clips of The Noodle Road, check out KBSWorld's YouTube Channel or watch my Soju Cream Sauce cooking video which was filmed in October 2009 and posted in Novemeber 2009.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

How to make "the vine that ate the South" into a healthy drink

Kudzu aka Wild Arrowroot is a plant native to Southern Japan and Southeast China. Americans first saw kudzu up close in 1876 at a Japanese Exposition in Philadelphia. However, that is not what caused it to become the terror of the American South.

During the 1950's, the US government encouraged Southerners to plant kudzu all over the place to prevent soil erosion. This simple plant became a voracious weed that conquers anyplace it touches. Southerners call it "the vine that ate the South." I've also heard people call it "the vegetable form of cancer."

There's an old saying, "If you can't beat them, join them." That can be expanded to say, "If you can't eradicate it, eat it."Many farmers in the American South already use it as a food source for livestock and it's good for humans, too, if you know what you're doing.

If you have some wild kudzu growing in your backyard, here's a simple recipe for wild arrowroot tea, called chik cha (칡차) in Korean.

To make it from scratch, boil 30 grams of arrowroot in 3 cups of water on low heat for at least 40 minutes. Then remove the root, add one spoon of your favorite honey. Drink. The honey is necessary because the root is very bitter. Or, if you live in an area where wild arrowroot is unavailable, you can buy chik cha online at KOAmart.

Koreans have used the roots of the kudzu plant for centuries for medicinal purposes. In traditional Chinese medicine, the leaves are used to treat tinnitus and vertigo, which might also work well for those who suffer from Meniere's Disease. Scientists are also looking into kudzu as a possible treatment for alcoholism, migraines and cluster headaches. Some scientists believe it may become a good source of biofuel or ethanol.

I asked my local Korean grocer why he doesn't sell chik cha in his store. He said that second-generation Korean-Americans don't like it because it's "too bitter." Well, most foods that are considered medicinal are bitter.

Kudzu Root on Foodista

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Korean food is not comfort food?

Tammy takes her Korean comfort food very seriously.
John Kessler, a food writer/blogger for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution posted his latest article called Chef’s Night Out with Tom Colicchio, about a chef's night out with Top Chef Judge Tom Colicchio and local Top Chef alumni Richard Blais and Kevin Gillespie.

Over the course of the article and the evening, the chefs had a couple of brief conversations about Korean cuisine. Gillespie obviously is not a Koreaphile by any stretch of the imagination. In one comment he dismisses Korean food by saying, “I’m not into Korean food,” says Gillespie. “It’s so [expletive] fishy.” He later goes on to say, "Korean food is not comforting at all.”

Speak for yourself, Mr. Gillespie. Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines comfort food as, "food prepared in a traditional style having a usually nostalgic or sentimental appeal." Sounds like Korean food to me!

Originally posted on ZenKimchi Food Journal.

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