Friday, December 31, 2010

Recipes: Three ways to make Korean beef broth

The base to any soup or stew, Korean or otherwise, is a good broth or stock. This article will discuss three methods for adding beef flavor, from the easiest to the most complex.

Debra Boutin
(Bastyr University photo)
Debra Boutin, M.S., R.D., chairwoman of Bastyr University's Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science, described the healthful aspects of bone broth in a natural medicine column:
Properly made bone broth contains measurable amounts of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and other minerals, as well as collagen, gelatin and amino acids. These nutrients are beneficial for bone and joint health, for muscle strength and action, and for maintaining connective tissues and the gastrointestinal tract.

The gelatin in bone broth has been shown in some studies to stimulate digestion and protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. It also is thought to improve digestion of milk, beans, meat and gluten-containing grains.
The Weston A. Price Foundation also has an article detailing the health benefits of bone broth.

Bone broth will give needed calcium to those on a dairy-restricted diet for health reasons or less availability of dairy products, such as in Korea compared with the U.S.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sempio Recipe: Acorn Starch Jelly (Dotori Muk)

Dotori muk, aka acorn starch jelly. You can find blocks of it in most Korean grocery stores. It comes unseasoned. This recipe shows you an option for seasoning it. 

Sempio is a popular Korean sauce that just started their own YouTube channel in July 2010.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New culinary classes carry Korean cuisine to the masses

Sur La Table will be offering a class in Korean restaurant classics which will include pajun (mung bean pancakes) in their teaching menu.

Demand for Korean cooking classes in culinary schools or Korean ingredients on grocery stores shelves is a visible sign a cuisine is becoming more popular in a particular country.

For example, Chef Young-sun Lee teaches classes in Korean cuisine at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, and Seattle-based higher-end culinary supply chain Sur La Table in January 2011 will be offering a class called Korean Restaurant Favorites.

The South Korean government has been working hard to promote the country's cuisine all over the world. Korean English-language media have been fawning over demonstrations by foreign top executives of how to make 잡채 japchae (garlicy zesty cellophane noodles) or 불고기 bulgogi (savory pear-sweetened beef).

However, the future of Korean food in the States and elsewhere does not reside in Seoul's Blue House or in the hands of Korea's highly trained chefs, cooking up fancy meals in their five-star restaurants. Culinary schools across the U.S. are starting to cater to home cooks and wannabe chefs clamoring to learn the basics of Korean cuisine.

Sur La Table's upcoming "hands-on" Korean cooking course will be offered among the core classes at all 23 of the chain's cooking-class locations in 14 states. Sur La Table offers classes in cities such as Houston; Salt Lake City; Troy, Mich.; Seattle; San Francisco; and Portland, Ore.

Anne Haerle,
courtesy of Sur La Table
Sur La Table, just like other culinary schools, offer classes that factor in the seasons and availability of ingredients, such as offering barbecue and outdoor entertaining classes in the summer and courses on stewing and braising in the winter, according to Anne Haerle, Sur La Table's corporate chef.

"We want to offer a range of classes that include a number of different cuisines, cooking and baking techniques, and types of menus," she said.

Haerle said the company floated this Korean cuisine trial balloon, in part, because of the popularity of other Asian cuisine classes.

"We’ve had great success offering classes in Chinese, Japanese and Thai cooking," she said.

"We chose to add the Korean Restaurant Favorites class in an effort to continue expanding our Asian cuisine class offerings."

Korean Restaurant Favorites is not the only class offered this year with a Korean component. The multicourse menu includes America's Food Truck Cuisine, "designed to address the growing interest in food trucks," Haerle said.

A spicy Korean barbecued pork taco, inspired by Kogi of Los Angeles, is one of the dishes on that class menu.

The following interview focuses on the Korean Restaurant Favorites class, Haerle's take on Korean cuisine and its growing popularity in the U.S.

How did you choose the items to include in the course menu (such as 비빔밥 bibimbap, bulgogi and 파전 pajeon)?
We looked at various source materials for classic Korean dishes that one would typically find in a Korean restaurant. I also personally enjoy eating and making Korean food, so I focused on dishes that I like and believe our customers would like to learn how to make, as well as dishes that can easily be made in a home kitchen.

Does the inclusion of Korean cuisine have anything to do with recent restaurant surveys which indicate Korean food is becoming a trend-setting cuisine?
... We pay close attention to food trends that affect the culinary industry at large. Korean food has indeed been mentioned by several media sources as a cuisine that more Americans are discovering. We first listen to our customers and find out what they want to learn, and then take larger trends into consideration.

How does Korean cuisine differ from others in Asia in ease or difficulty in execution?
Many of the basic cooking techniques featured in Korean cuisine, such as grilling, stir-frying and pickling, are very common in other Asian cuisines, and Western cuisines, for that matter. As with cooking any cuisine, the challenge lies in properly balancing the main flavoring ingredients to create a harmonious balance. Korean food is really no different in that respect.

What is the difference between Korean cuisine and those of nearby countries?
One main difference between Korean cuisine and other Asian cuisines is that the flavors of Korean cuisine tend to be more pungent and intense. For example, many Korean dishes feature red pepper flakes, which supply a lot of heat. Also, the structure of Korean meals, with the numerous side dishes and condiments, is different from other Asian cuisines.

What do you find challenging about making Korean cuisine?
I think a big challenge for many cooks who want to make Korean cuisine is finding the appropriate ingredients. In Seattle, we’re fortunate to have several resources for authentic Korean ingredients. People living in other locations may need to rely on the Internet for buying certain items. Also, people who have not used these ingredients may find working with them to be a challenge. That’s why we are offering a Korean cooking class on our calendar — to help people appreciate this great cuisine and feel confident about making it at home.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Making kimchi with local ingredients

This video was filmed in the hills of Lake County California, just north of Napa Valley to make a point about "regionalizing," or adapting recipes for local ingredients. "Regionalizing" is a trend in culinary circles. Fermented foods are becoming popular for their health-promoting benefits.

Baechu kimchi, the commonly recognized Korean red-pepper spiced picked cabbage side dish, brings the growing intrigue of Korean food together with pickling. This video shows how you can substitute commonly available chilis for Korean ones to achieve the desired spiciness and flavor.

Kimchi on FoodistaKimchi

Another kalbi video

This 13 minute video comes with another recipe for mixed rice.

However, one piece of advise. Don't throw away the beef broth from the first rib boiling, like she did. It's a broth you can keep and freeze to make a soup in the future.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Kogi-inspired Kalbi taco recipe with Korean BBQ sauce and slaw

I found this recipe on a YouTube channel called ZacharyZachary.

The video is 10 minutes long, which might seem a bit long for a cooking video but you get three recipes for the price of one in this video: kalbi, BBQ sauce and Korean coleslaw. So just watch it and learn a little something, although showing a disembodied head narrating the slaw recipe was a bit disturbing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pei Wei 'Would you like to blog Asia?' contest

I don't often apply for contests or give-aways, but this contest was too good to pass up.
Pei Wei Asian Diner is hosting a search for the ultimate blogger to join its chefs as they travel across Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan and Korea on an incredible culinary journey. Chef Eric Justice and his team will search for inspiration across the five countries featured on Pei Wei’s menu and the chosen blogger will share the international experience along the way.
I'd love to take a 16-day trip across five Asian countries and visit some of the most dynamic culinary capitals in Asia, including Kyoto, Shanghai and, of course, Seoul.

Winning this contest would be a trip back "home" to see places that have evolved over the past two decades. I visited Bangkok in 1992 and Hong Kong in 1996  and lived an hour away from Seoul in 1996-1997.

I submitted the following posts for consideration (in no particular order):

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Green tea can boost tummy fullness

A study performed by researchers at Lund University in Sweden and published in the Nutrition Journal, suggests drinking green tea after a meal can boost the signal from  stomach to brain that one is full, more so than consuming an equal volume of water.

The scientists found that green tea did not effect blood-sugar levels and insulin response, as had been claimed.

In addition to antioxidant benefits, green tea could be a healthful complement to a well-balanced menu plan for weight loss.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Considering kosher in the Land of the Morning Calm

Chabad of Korea opened in Seoul in 2008.
South Korea is attracting more Jewish business travelers, diplomats, members of the military and English teachers, but there is a lot of misunderstanding over what is and isn't kosher food. Some also believe that Muslim dietary standards, called halal in Arabic, are inter-changeable with kosher, but this is not the case.

For example, organizers of the recent G20 economic summit in Seoul were asked to serve kosher meals for 50 participants, but Rabbi Osher Litzman of newly established Chabad of Korea (link) told the coordinators that there's more to kosher than roasting kosher meat (link). They left the catering to him.

So did the Prime Minister's office when dozens of Jews were among 1,000 businesspeople visiting the country during an annual commerce exhibition (link).

The number of Jews living in South Korea is estimated at around 200, but there is no meeting place outside of the U.S. base at Yongsan in Seoul and few options for finding kosher food. That's why the Israeli ambassador to Korea in 2007 asked the Chabad organization, part of a sect of Orthodox Judaism, to send an emissary rabbi to Korea. The Chabad center was established in the foreigner-dense Itaewon area of Seoul in April 2008.

To many non-Jews, the word kosher has passed into common usage to mean “proper,” “legitimate” or “virtuous.” Those are the basic translations of the Hebrew word kashrut, but to Jews it has a more precise meaning.

Rules for kashrut encompass more than a list of foragers, fish and fowl on and off the menu.
Korean cuisine often isn't thought of as kosher because of pork and certain seafood are in a number of dishes, including many variations of baechu kimchi (배추 김치), the ever-present spicy pickled cabbage side dish.

The basic laws of kashrut begin in the Bible (Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14) but they don’t end there. The Bible has detailed explanations on how to visually identify which land animals, birds and fish are considered fit for human consumption. People find many legitimate health reasons for eating kosher animals and abstaining from non-kosher animals. However, to Rabbi Litzman, there’s only one reason that matters, “Simply because G-d commanded us to do it.”

The separation of meat and dairy extends to utensils, cutting boards and dishes.
 (Photo by Tammy Quackenbush)

For example, Jewish rules regarding food includes separating between dairy and meat, using dairy products only from kosher animals and not eating most bugs. Jews divide food into three categories: meat, dairy and pareve (a Hebrew word that means "neutral" and includes fruits, vegetables, grains, coffee, tea, eggs and fish).

Jewish food law forbids serving meat and dairy products at the same meal. For example, there’s no such thing as a kosher cheeseburger. Even if the meat and the cheese are certified kosher, the moment the cheese sits on top of the beef patty, the burger is no longer considered kosher.

Litzman also gets milk regularly from a specific cow on a farm outside Seoul to make their own cheese products to ensure that the cheese is made without the use of rennet, which is usually obtained from the stomach of a young sheep, cow or goat.

The separation of meat and dairy extends to utensils, cutting boards and dishes.

Vegetables are inspected and cleaned thoroughly, not only to get rid of obvious and visible bugs but also to clear the vegetables of any microscopic bugs lurking in the crevices of the vegetables. (Photo by Tammy Quackenbush)

Even vegetables must be thoroughly inspected and washed to make sure they are clear of even the smallest insects before eating. The Chabad Kosher Handbook explains, "A more common problem with vegetables involves possible insect infestation. The prohibition against consuming insects, even very tiny ones -- as long as they are visible to the naked eye -- is mentioned five times in the Torah and is very strict." Leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach are washed and inspected leaf by leaf. Other vegetables, such as broccoli, are soaked in water and the water is changed out several times to insure that any small insects are rinsed away from the food.

Kashrut also includes detailed rules about how an animal is slaughtered.

"Kosher slaughtering is to be done by an expert, using a special extremely-sharp unserrated knife, cutting the neck of a kosher and healthy animal to over half depth with no delay," Litzman said. "These laws are to prevent the animal from superfluous pain." This method of slaughter also encourages the complete drainage of blood from the animal, which is required for the meat to be considered kosher.

At this time, there are no kosher meat retailers or wholesalers in Korea. However, California-based Teva Meats has expressed interest in selling kosher meat to the Korean market, according to Litzman.

Certified-kosher meat became increasingly popular among non-Jews in the U.S. due to public concerns about meat safety, mainly "mad cow" degenerative brain disease. Potential for importing any tainted U.S. meat to Korea brought those concerns across the Pacific.

Animals raised for kosher slaughter are on a strict vegetarian diet. They are never fed animal by-products. Bits of bovine nervous systems in feed was linked to the spread of “mad cow disease” in British beef.

Creatures destined for kosher slaughter must be in good health. An animal too sick or disabled to walk into the slaughterhouse, often called a “downer,” would be disqualified.

After slaughter, a kosher animal’s internal organs are closely inspected as another check for a health condition or defect that would have killed the animal within a year. If found, the meat wouldn't be kosher.

At this time, most of kosher foods in Korea are imported. Grocers — both foreign- and Korean-owned — that sell imported kosher foods include Costco, E-Mart, Lottemart, Red Door, Hannam Supermarket and Haddon House.

Some kosher products manufactured in South Korea, which Litzman and some other visiting rabbis travel to inspect periodically.

“The process is usually simple," Litzman said. "The Kashrut organization checks the list of products and process of the food, and a trained mashgiach [kosher food inspector] visits the site from time to time to make sure there are no changes.”

Kosher supervision is more stringent for dining establishments.

“In case of restaurants, a mashgiach has to be there at every moment meals are prepared," Litzman said. "(Vegetarian) restaurants are not kosher, unless someone is checking the vegetables for insects."

Another part of the mashgiach's job is to inspect all restaurant food deliveries to make sure the ingredients are kosher and any surprise substitutions are kosher, too.

Due to the expense involved for a restaurant to obtaining kosher certification, a restaurant  possessing kosher certification would prominently display that certificate.

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