Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How do videos go viral in Korea?

I have no idea. A Korean netizen posted my "12 days of tteok" video onto Bada.us on October 10, 2010 and in less than a month, this one embedded post has generated over 10,000 hits to this video. The excited netizen titled the post, "[유튭] ♥ 떡볶이 사랑한는 외국인 ♥" which roughly translates as "[YouTube] Foreigners love tteokbokki." From there, it was posted on a few more Korean bulletin boards (bogobogo.net, mizville.org and joonmedia.net), so it has broken the 16,000 mark.

If you want to know why the Korean netizens got so excited, "동영상 보기 (Watch the video)."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Recipe: Korean sesame salt

Sesame salt can either be provided in a communal dish or in individual dishes. (Photo by Tammy Quackenbush)

It seems silly to call this a recipe because a simple way of marrying salt and sesame seeds in a way that make them better together than they are by themselves.

Sesame salt is a typical Korean way to "cut" the salt usage while maximizing flavor in vegetables, braised and grilled meats.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon coarse Korean sea salt

If the sesame seeds aren't already toasted, it's easy to do yourself in a cast iron skillet or wok. Just gradually stir and heat the sesame seeds over low heat until they start to turn golden brown and aromatic.

You can use a spice grinder to blend the sesame salt. I'd advise you not to use your coffee grinder for this task. (Photo by Tammy Quackenbush)

While the seeds are still warm, put them into a grinder or mortar.  Stir in the sea salt of your choice and start grinding.

This is simply a serving suggestion. Place a tablespoon of sesame salt in a small dish for each guest to increase the flavor profile of their own meal. (Photo by Jeff Quackenbush)

I usually will do this as fresh as possible right before serving my main course, whether it's a plate of Korean BBQ or Braised Short Ribs. If you aren't making it for immediate use, store the sesame salt in a tightly covered jar.

Here's a beautiful slideshow of a salt farm on Korea's southwest coast.  

Sea Salt on FoodistaSea Salt

Friday, November 19, 2010

Review: Zazang Korean Noodle, San Francisco

This restaurant dominates San Francisco's jjajangmyun market and has a reputation of making the best in the Bay Area.
(Photo by Tammy Quackenbush)

I found this little Korean noodle shop in San Francisco within walking distance of the University of California at San Francisco's medical offices and a Kaiser Permanente hospital. This section of Geary Boulevard is a busy boulevard  with little parking. The nearest public parking is a couple of blocks away at UCSF, which charges $2 for 20 minutes, or $6 an hour.

When I came in at 3:30 p.m., I had the place to myself. Customers started arriving around 4:30 p.m.

Jjajamyun (짜장면), typically made with pork, onions and other vegetables, is the restaurant's signature dish, but I wanted something spicier. I ordered bibimmyun (비빔면, $8.95), which is wheat noodles smothered in a thin, spicy red pepper sauce and garnished with thinly julienned cucumber.

My bibimmyun did not come with scissors to cut my noodles, but the woman at a table next to me received scissors for her noodle dish. I could hear the snip, snip, snip as she chopstick-sized her noodles.

Zazang's ganjjajamyun makes excellent leftovers.
(Photo by Jeff Quackenbush)
I ordered ganjajamyun (간자장면, $7.95) to go for my husband. Ganjajamyun is a wheat noodle dish covered in a black bean sauce with beef and vegetables. Zazang's sauce was not as "glossy" or oily as the stereotype of jjajamyun would lead you to expect.

The ganjajamyun for carryout was packed in separate cups for the sauce and noodles.  Be careful with storing the noodles and sauce separately in the refrigerator. The noodles got clingy in the fridge, which didn't affect the flavor but certainly affected the aesthetics of the photo.

The banchan, or side dishes traditionally served with the meal, included pickled yellow radish (danmuji), raw onion and a tablespoon of jajamyung sauce. Surprisingly, the banchan didn't include baechu kimchi, the traditional spicy fermented nappa cabbage version. I wasn't even asked if I wanted some.

The menu has several spicy dishes. Those include gochujapchae (고추잡채, $14.95), which adds zippy red pepper to the popular garlicy, sesame-savory cellophane noodle dish japchae,  and me-un gan zazang (매운캄짜징, $8.95), a spicier version of the black bean sauce dish.

Adult beverage options include soju, bokbunjaju (raspberry wine) or Hite brand beer.

If you find yourself visiting San Francisco and have an insatiable craving for jjajangmyun, this is the first place you should go to quench it.

Zazang Korean Noodle
2340 Geary Blvd. (Pacific Heights neighborhood on the edge of Japantown)
San Francisco
Open every day, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Zazang Korean Noodle in San Francisco on Fooddigger

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Recipe: Pul-bbang (풀빵) Korean pancake dumplings

Jeff couldn't wait to take a bite out of them. Here's the proof.
(Photo by Jeff Quackenbush)
I found a Danish Æbelskiver pancake pan at William-Sonoma some time ago.  I kept staring at the catalog, scratching my head trying to figure out why the pan and its baked contents looked so familiar. Then I realized I was looking at the perfect pul-bbang pan.

Celebrity chef Alton Brown argues against "unitaskers," which are appliances that only make one item. This skillet is versatile, if you're willing to have some fun with it.
(Photo by Tammy Quackenbush)

Pul-bbang (풀빵) is a Korean pancake dumpling, usually stuffed with sweetened red bean paste (팥 앙금, patanggeum). You could call them Korean doughnut holes, if you want. Korean street vendors can make 20 or more at at time. My little skillet is puny in comparison.

The Japanese have their own version of pul-bbang, called takoyaki. It is stuffed with boiled, chopped octopus. Takoyaki batter also is more savory — featuring bonito flakes — than either pul-bbang or Æbelskiver batter.

Æbelskiver is traditionally filled with spiced, sauteed apples. However,  filling options are limited only by your imagination and the contents of your pantry, such as yujacha (유자차), Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread or peanut butter.

Pul-bbang is sold on the street in most major Korean cities. But they're a bit more difficult to find than their more famous cousins, boong-uh-bbang (붕어빵),which are a red bean–stuffed bread shaped like a fish. Pul-bbang sell for 1,000 to 2,000 won per seven dumplings.


I made the pul-bbang batter from rice flour, which is typical of what one would find in Korea. Rice flour is gluten-free. The mix can be dairy-free if you use rice or almond milk. This recipe make approximately 20 pul-bbang.
1 cup rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup 2 percent milk, or you can substitute rice milk or almond milk
The basic recipe for pouring pul-bbang is:
2 tablespoons batter
1/2 teaspoon filling
1. Set the pan on medium heat. You don't want the pan too hot, otherwise the first side will cook too quickly and the pul-bbang won't have a nice, round shape. They'll be round on one side and flat on the other.

2. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of batter into each well of the pan.

I used a two spoon technique to scrape and drop the red bean paste into the batter.
(Photo by Jeff Quackenbush)

3. After you have filled all the wells with batter, immediately start placing the 1/2 teaspoon of  the filling of your choice in the middle.

4. Add another tablespoon or so of batter to the top to cover the filling. Let the dumplings cook for a couple of minutes.

The rounded, wooden, Chinese style chopsticks work perfectly to flip the pul-bbang over.
(Photo by Jeff Quackenbush)
5. Turn each dumpling over after you notice bubbles in the batter and slight pulling away on the edges. Toothpicks or wooden chopsticks are best for this task. Flip them "early," so they are gold-colored on the underside, rather than golden brown.

6. Cook for a few minutes more on the other side. From there, you can flip them alternating until they are golden brown on both sides.

This is what the finished product looked like before my husband/photographer tasted a sample of the finished product. (Photo by Jeff Quackenbush)

Pul-bbang don't taste as good cold, so make and eat them fresh.

Nonstick Ebelskiver Pan on FoodistaNonstick Ebelskiver Pan

Friday, November 12, 2010

Update on my life (and this blog)

Things have slowed down around here, but we're going to pick up speed very soon.
(photo by akedeszign on Sxc.hu via Creative Commons license)
Here's why the pace of posts has slowed on Koreafornian Cooking:
  1. I've had some health issues recently, and I'm trying to get my groove back. It's hard to cook, eat and write about cooking and eating with those challenges.
  2. Nanoomi.net asked me to record 10 podcasts for an upcoming smartphone app, which will feature some of Korea's best bloggers. I'm honored to be considered in a similar league with bloggers such as my "boss" Joe McPherson at ZenKimchi, Roboseyo and Simon and Martina of Eat Your Kimchi.
  3. An American culinary magazine commissioned my first freelance article. Now that it's been turned into the editors, I have more time for my own stuff.
  4. My husband is recording freelance video for an iPhone wine app that will launch in the U.S. late this year.
In lieu of posting new work on my own blog, I've been trying to keep up with what's going on in the Korean food blogosphere by posting links to recipes and insights on my Facebook fan page.

To whet your appetite for the future of Koreafornian Cooking, here's a sneak preview:
  • Kimchi in the wine country video (filmed in Lake County, Calif.)
  • Seoul on Wheels rolling restaurant review
  • Zazang Korean Noodle restaurant review

Monday, November 1, 2010

Daily intake of coffee or tea reduces brain cancer risk

A new study on the affects of caffeinated beverages coffee and tea on brain cancer follows others released this year around the world, including in South Korea, which has become a major coffee consumer.

The latest study, sponsored by the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), found that people drinking more than 100 milliliters (3.4 fluid ounces) of tea, coffee or both per day were less likely to develop glioblastoma brain tumors (GBM). Details were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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