Thursday, March 31, 2011

Recipe: Yuja Soju Tincture

If you enjoy a sour drink, consider drinking it straight. Otherwise, mix it with your favorite sparkling water or club soda. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

Even though we live in an age where bartenders are now called mixologists — makes them sound more scientific, doesn't it? — many are finding inspiration in the old ways of mixing drinks by creating their own tinctures, bitters and infusions.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chosun Ilbo: How to clean doenjang jars

Don't be surprised if this ends up becoming one of your tasks during a Temple Stay in Korea.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The East Bay's Korean Taco Truck: Seoul on Wheels

The San Francisco Bay area has several Korean taco trucks roaming the streets seeking to satiate our latent desire for spicy kimchi tacos and Korean BBQ. One of the main players is called Seoul on Wheels.

The Seoul on Wheel's motto is "Korean mobile goodness." Menu items include:
Rib Eye BBQ
Chicken BBQ
Spicy Pork BBQ
BBQ rice bowl
Korean BBQ tacos
Daniel Burger ("dbl cheeseburger, spicy pork + kimchee: luv on a bun")
Kimchi Fried Rice
I found Seoul on Wheels at the Eat Real Food Festival in Oakland, Calif. at Jack London Square. Julia Yoon was serving up a truncated menu of Beef, Chicken, Pork or Tofu Korean tacos and spicy chilled noodles.

We tried the chicken and beef Korean tacos. They were very good. The charcoal grilled beef and chicken BBQ was served on a corn tortilla with chopped romaine lettuce, sliced daikon radish and topped with sour cream and spicy gochujang.

The best part of our visit to Seoul on Wheels (besides trying their food) is an impromptu interview I did with a young man who was trying Korean food for the first time. Check out his reaction to his first bite at 2:03.

Seoul on Wheels has a Twitter account with more than 3,700 followers broadcasting their whereabouts. You can also find them on Facebook.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Recipe: Peanut ssamjang (쌈장) a.k.a. satay sauce

On a barbecue blog I found a recipe for Korean Satay Sauce. It's a dipping sauce combining marinade for the popular Korean grilled beef dish 갈비 kalbi, peanut butter and water.
Satay is a favorite marinated skewered meat dish of Southeast Asia, and it's usually paired with a peanut sauce.

"Korean Satay Sauce" is a curious recipe name, because a sauce Koreans commonly use with meat is 쌈장 ssamjang. The word literally means a jang, or sauce, for ssam, or meat wrapped in a sauce-slathered leaf of lettuce or 깻닢 kkaenip (perilla). A common ssamjang is a greatest-hits sauce with 된장doenjang (fermented soybean paste), 고추장 gochujang (spicy red pepper sauce), sesame oil, onion, garlic and green onions.

Peanut Ssamjang is a sanitary, economical and delicious way to use up the rest of your 갈비 kalbi or 불고기 bulgogi marinade (such as Korean drama superstar Bae Yong Joon's) flavoring the raw meat. It's a shame to put all the work on the marinade from scratch and then dumping most of it down the drain because it's been in contact with raw beef.

Koreans don't have a long-term relationship with peanuts or peanut butter the way Thais do. Yet with inclusion of the savory sweetness of kalbi marinade, this recipe has the makings of Koreafornian moxie.

Koreans don't have a long-term relationship with peanuts or peanut butter, but you can marry Korean spiciness and your favorite peanut butter. (photo by Michaela Kobyakov on Stock.xchng via Creative Commons license)

Peanut Ssamjang (쌈장)

2 cups kalbi marinade (Korean drama superstar Bae Yong Joon's or mine)
4-6 tablespoons peanut butter, creamy/smooth or chunky
2-6 tablespoons water (optional)

1. Put two cups of kalbi marinade into a saucepan and bring to a boil for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat down to a simmer.
2. Add 4-6 tablespoons of peanut butter, and mix until the marinade and peanut butter are combined.
3. Add water until the sauce is the consistency you want. If you want a thicker sauce, like a ssamjang, you might exclude the water completely.

Peanut Butter on FoodistaPeanut Butter

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's day leftovers: Kimchi Reuben Sandwich

Most American families (even the non-Irish ones) enjoy celebrating St. Patrick's day. The green beer, green clothes and joyous "Kiss me, I'm Irish" spirit brings Americans of all ethnicities together. After you have sat down to your homemade traditional corned beef and cabbage meal, there's the question of what to do with the leftovers.

I would like to suggest you try out a Kimchi Reuben sandwich with a side of sweet-potato french fries to put some Korean flavor in your St. Patrick's day leftovers.

This recipe was originally featured in a video I posted on YouTube in September 2008. The recipe starts at the 1:39 mark.

Kimchi Reuben Sandwich

2 slices New York rye bread
1-2 tbsp mayonnaise or Russian dressing
1/4 cup well-drained, cabbage kimchi
2 thin slices Swiss cheese
3-4 oz. thinly sliced corned beef or pastrami*


Spread mayonnaise each slice of bread evenly to the edges on one side.

Building the sandwich:

First add a slice of cheese to each piece of bread. Put the corned beef on one side and the kimchi on the other and put them together.

I usually cut the sandwich in half on a diagonal to serve.

*There isn’t much of a difference between corned beef and pastrami. Pastrami is corned beef which has black peppercorns, seasoned salt, garlic, basil, and allspice added for flavor.

Reuben Sandwich on FoodistaReuben Sandwich

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Recipe: Candied Yuja Peel

The final product is sweet with lots of yuja flavor. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)
My quest for fun, tasty alternative uses for 유자 yuja (Asian citron, a.k.a. yuzu in Japanese) and the yuja marmalade commonly used to make the hot drink 유자차 yujacha turns again to a sweet treat from the rind, candied yuja peels.

The earliest record of candied fruits goes back to the 14th century, according to Wikipedia. Candied peels of citrus fruits such as oranges, citrons and lemons were popular in both Europe and Western Asia during the Middle Ages. Arabs call them g'shur purtaghal.

The technique of boiling fruits and/or their peels in sugar syrup preserves the fruit and the rinds from spoiling. In other words, it was a practice of necessity in a seemingly bygone era when "waste not, want not" was a respected maxim. 

During the Middle Ages, only the very wealthy — who could afford sugar and citrus fruits — enjoyed candied fruit on a regular basis. Today, thanks to refrigeration and year-long access to many kinds of citrus fruits from various exotic locales, the rich and not-so-rich alike can create and enjoy this recipe.

Candied Yuja Peel

This recipe was inspired by Closet Cooking's recipe for candied orange peel.

3 yuja fruit
2 cup water
1 cup sugar (for simple syrup)
1 cup sugar (for coating the peels after boiling)

1. Cut the top and bottom off the yuja.

2. Remove the rind of each yuja from its fruit into 4 vertical pieces and remove from the yuja in one piece.

Cut the yuja rind into thin strips with a very sharp knife. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

3. Cut the rind into thin strips.

4. Put the two cups of water into a saucepan and boil the peels for 15 minutes. Remove the rind strips from the water. This removes some of the pith's bitterness. Discard the water and set the rind strips aside.

5. Bring two cups of new water to a boil and add one cup of sugar. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

The first boil in plain water removes the bitterness from the rind. The second boil, with the sugar and water syrup, adds the sweetness and helps preserve the peels. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

6. Add the rind strips to the sugar and water, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the peels are tender, or in about 45 minutes.

I used one of the racks from my food dehydrator to allow the peels to air dry until they were barely wet. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

7. Drain the rinds very well and allow them to dry on a rack until they are almost dry but still sticky to the touch.

I used brown sugar for the coating, but white sugar is more traditional and would brighten the yuja peels. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

8. Toss them in sugar. (Tip: Save the syrup for yujacha or cocktails.)

Now the peels are ready for their final drying. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

9. Place the rind strips back on the rack and allow them to rest until they are completely dry. That takes 24 hours in summer to 48 hours in winter.

Candied yuja peels are delicious by themselves as a little snack or dessert, but they are also delicious dipped in chocolate. They would also make a wonderful garnish for your favorite brownies.

Candied Peels on FoodistaCandied Peels

Monday, March 14, 2011

Six quick pointers for starting a vegetable garden

I just started planting some basil outdoors after starting it indoors a month or so ago. (Jeff Quackenbush photo)

I'm taking the plunge, starting a garden in my underutilized backyard. After 10 years of having no idea what to do with the space, I'm planting some Korean vegetables and a few of my favorite herbs. That beats driving three hours one way to the nearest major Korean produce market.

I've already learned a few things I can pass on to you. And I've barely started planting yet.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chocolate Hamantaschen

Despite your pet's inquisitive nature, especially regarding food, do not give your pet a sample of your chocolate delights.
Purim's coming soon (starting at sunset on March 19 to be exact) and Jews (and non-Jewish friends and family) all over the world are making preparations for this holiday. Last year, I showed you how to make Yujacha Hamantaschen.

This year's version is still a bit unconventional but certainly not Korean either.

The first step is to make the dough. The recipe I'm using here is adapted from The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York by Claudia Roden. It is one part cookbook, one part history book, which is my favorite kind of cookbook. You will find this recipe on page 192. My commentary is in parenthesis.

1 3/4 cups flour
a pinch of salt (which you can omit if you use salted butter)
2 tablespoons sugar (I used brown sugar this time)
2-3 drops vanilla extract
5 oz. unsalted butter
1 egg yolk (I used the entire egg)
2-3 tablespoons of milk (which I didn't use)
1 egg, lightly beaten, for glaze

First, mix the flour, salt, sugar and vanilla extract. Cut the butter into pieces (or simply tear it off with your very clean fingers) into the flour and rub it in. Mix in the egg and press it into a ball.

I made two batches and put both of them into a gallon sized zip-top bag and put them into the refrigerator to cool. If you don't have gallon sized zip-top bags in your pantry, cover the bowl in plastic wrap and put it into your fridge.

The cookie highlighted in red on the far right is what happens when you roll them out too thin. It collapses. However, don't throw it out, bake it with the rest and keep it as a tasty treat for yourself.
Divide the dough into four equal segments for easier handling. Roll each piece on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin until the dough is about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 3 inch rounds with a pastry cutter. Take the scraps, roll them out again and repeat the procedure until all the dough is used up.

Or you can take a lump of dough a big bigger than a walnut and flatten the dough by pressing it in the palm of your hand, similar to how you'd made hotteok.

Once you have your hamantaschen circles, quickly make the chocolate filling.

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg, beaten

Melt the chocolate slowly in the microwave, heating it in 30 second bursts until it's melted, stirring after each heating. ONce it's belted, add the sugar, butter, milk and vanilla. Return to the microwave for about 15-30 seconds to make sure it's all melted and mixed. Gradually add the beaten egg until it's completely mixed in as well. Use immediately to fill the Hamantaschen. If you like you can add a cup of chopped walnuts to the mix and it will make it extra-tasty. I didn't put any in this batch because a couple of my friends are allergic to treenuts.

To shape into triangle, lift up right and left sides, leaving the bottom down and bring both side to meet at the center above the filling. Bring top flap down to the center to meet the two sides. Pinch edges together. Practice makes perfect and since I don't bake very often, I don't get much practice.

Arrange on a greased tray (I have a non-stick tray) and brush with the egg glaze.

Bake at 375F (190C) for 15-20 minutes.

Do not try to remove the Hamantaschen while they are still hot. They may crumble. Let them cool first on the tray. Once they are cooled off lift them very carefully with a spatula because they are fragile. The recipe makes about 40 cookies, just over 3 dozen.

Secret Recipe Club Cookie Party

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Recipe: Yuja Curd

Yuja curd can give your morning breakfast a little bit of sunshine. (Jeff Quackenbush photo)

Receiving a generous gift of a large bag of organically grown 유자 yuja fruit — Asian citron, rare in the U.S. — continues to spark inspiration on more ways Koreans and expats can use the humble yuja beyond stirring a spoonful of 유자차 yujacha marmalade into a cup of hot water for a mid-winter drink. 

Yuja Curd

Adapted from a recipe on Epicurious. Makes 1 cup of yuja curd.

½ cup yuja juice (four fresh yujas are needed for squeezing the fruit from scratch)
2 teaspoons finely grated yuja (or lemon or orange) zest (one yuja can make that)
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup unsalted butter (one stick, cut into four chunks)

Add zest, juice, sugar and eggs to a metal bowl. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

Whisk together zest, juice, sugar and eggs until they are blended well. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

Add 1/2 cup butter that has been cut into four chunks, approximately 2 tablespoons each.  (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and begin whisking the mixture continuously, until thickened and smooth. This will take about five minutes. If you have a candy thermometer, check for a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The constant whisking at low temperature will prevent the eggs from curdling.  (Jeff Quackenbush photo)

Pour the warm mix into a fine mesh sieve. (Jeff Quackenbush photo)

Force curd through a fine sieve set into another bowl. Discard the zest. (Jeff Quackenbush photo)

The stuff that is left behind includes the zest and some unrefined egg parts. (Jeff Quackenbush photo)

This is what the finished product looks like when it's still warm. As it cools, it will become more firm. (Jeff Quackenbush photo)

Serve warm, or cover the surface of curd with wax paper and cool completely. Once it cools, it will set and have a little more firmness than the warm curd.

This would make an excellent topping on any sweet breakfast food: scones, granola, English muffins, cheese blintzes or French toast. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Recipe: Yujacha Rolls

In my quest to find more alternative uses for 유자차 yujacha (Asian citron marmalade tea) beyond the traditional Korean hot drink, I came up with a sweet treat, Yujacha Rolls.

This recipe is simpler than Yujacha Hamantashen but equally delicious. (Tammy Quackenbush photo)

These rolls are much quicker to prepare than Yujacha Hamantashen but use the same filling. Hamantashen are triangle-shaped cookies filled with dried fruit or chocolate and traditionally eaten around the Jewish festival of Purim.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stylish blogger award

Thanks to Island Vittles for nominating me for the Stylish Blogger award. My acceptance speech for this award is:

First, I have to share 7 things about myself.   Then I must in turn, bestow this award on 10 great bloggers.

Here we go:

1.  I got married at the ripe old age of 22 and have been married 15 years.
2. I'm a good cook but not a very good housewife. I can't stand washing dishes.
3. Kang Joon-sang's (Bae Yong-joon's character) house in Winter Sonata, was only a few blocks from my former apartment in Chuncheon, South Korea.
4. I don't eat pork or shellfish, ever.
5. I have an elliptical trainer in my living room. Korean dramas + elliptical trainer= fit K-drama addict
6. My favorite drink is Arnold Palmer's half-tea lemonade.
7.  My favorite Korean food is dakkalbi.

Now, here are the 10 bloggers I will "pay it forward" with the stylish blogger award. I read all of these blogs and most of them are food related, but not all of them.

1. Gourmande in Osaka
2. Sonoma Bento
3. Beyond Kimchee
4. El alma del Hansik (Spanish language Korean food blog)
5. Wonju Wife (Disclaimer: Danielle Park is a writer for ZenKimchi Food Journal, just like me.)
6. My Wagashi Chronicles
7. Eating and Living
8. Almost Bourdain
9. Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet
10.Spicie Foodie

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