Monday, February 28, 2011

Day 2 in California

still life in Zuni Cafe

view from 2nd floor of Zuni Cafe

manchego cheese with shaved truffles and truffle honey at Zuni Cafe

beans and grilled fish, pizza from brick oven at Zuni Cafe

foie gras steamed in sake, turnip, perilla, ginger and brioche in BENU

The dinner at Benu was a truly amazing, eye opening experience. Wow, Corey Lee is a chef genius! His dishes look like conceptual art. Incredibly, when tasting his creations, each individual ingredient’s flavor and character spoke clearly while as a whole, the separate tastes worked harmoniously with each other, elevating the whole. I couldn’t help but wonder how he manipulated all the flavors to this extreme level while still maintaining the pure essence of the individual ingredients.

Every dish was impeccably picture perfect. It’s a pity most of the pictures I took at Benu turned out disastrous because my camera couldn’t handle the low light conditions.

The most memorable dish you ask? Hmmm... sea cucumber stuffed with shrimp and pork belly dish. Sea cucumber and pork belly may sound like a weird match to the uninitiated, but it’s actually a pairing found often in Chinese cuisine. Corey Lee's innovative interpretation was of course not your standard fare.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Corey in the kitchen before dinner. He was genuinely warm and personable. As a fellow Korean, I am so proud of all his accomplishments, especially as he is so young. I can’t wait to go back again to explore his future creations.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 1 in California

I had planned and waited so impatiently for this trip. After many days of shoveling, digging, brushing and salting job here in Boston, I finally felt like taking a break from snow. Most of all, I was desperate to eat some fresh produce! The trip to SF and Wine Country was just dedicated for some good food and wine.
I ate my first meal at In and Out burger near SF airport. I ordered 2 cheese burgers, french fries and vanilla milk shake. It was as perfectly satisfying dinner as the one at the French Laundry. Yum!!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

smoked soy sauce eggs

Deeply impressed by Naoko's smoked soy sauce, I had to think about how to adapt this wonderful ingredient to my old recipes. I ended up making this egg dish for my first trial after deliberating some candidates. It is a simplest thing to make but was enough to know the power of the smoked soy sauce. Wow!

10 semi-soft boiled eggs (I cook the eggs for 9 minutes in the slowly boiling water)
1/2 red onion/very thinly sliced
3 dried hot red chili peppers

Put everything together in a zip lock bag, marinade for a few hours at room temperature, shaking gently once in a while to distribute the sauce evenly.
Serve with plain white rice. I think these would be fantastic for picnic food, also wonderful as an appetizer. Be careful, these are addictive...

smoked soy sauce

I have fell in love with smoked soy sauce. I became so curious when I read about this on Naoko's blog that I had to give it a try. The result was AWESOME! When I first opened the smoker, I was surprised by its strong and bold aroma. And secondly I was surprised once again to find out its subtleness when it was actually used in dishes.

The recipe is adapted from Naoko's blog
soy sauce

Put some soy sauce in a heat resistant container. Smoke the soy sauce sauce for 30 minutes according to your smoking method. You can improvise your wok to a smoker. : Line your wok with tin foil. Put some smoking chips on the bottom, then put a wire rack on top. Smoke the soy sauce with the lid (also tin foiled) tightly closed. I recommend to do it outside.

Check Naoko's bog (Mrs. Donabe's rustic Japanese kitchen) for more details.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Anchovy dashi

Anchovy dashi is the most versatile soup base for Korean food. It deepens the flavor for soup (gook), hot pot dishes(ggigye). I make the dashi in advance and keep it ready on the refrigerator all the time. It significantly shortens the cooking process in this way.

total 5 sq inches dried kelp (rinsed briefly)
2-3 dried shitake mushrooms
1 small handful dried anchovies

Add dried kelp and dried shitake mushroom in the water. Leave it in the room temperature for a few hours or overnight.

Add dried anchovies and bring it to a boil on medium heat. Once it boils, remove the kelp pieces and continue to slow boil for about 10 minutes. Cool it down and sieve the broth discarding the mushrooms and anchovies. Keep it in the refrigerator or freezer for longer storage.

steamed savory egg custard with silken tofu

I would like to say I am a custard-person. I love anything custardy. Well who doesn't?
This savory custard is very delicate and aromatic. The beauty of this dish is you can make it as simple as you like, or as sophisticated as you want too. To make dish flavorful, the only thing you need is good broth (dashi). I always keep the basic dashi in my refrigerator ready. When in a hurry, I mix eggs and scallion with dashi and just microwave to make simple banchan.

ingredients (serves 2-4)
2 eggs
1 cup silken tofu
1/4 cup dashi
1 scallion/sliced
1 red chili/sliced
1 shitake mushroom (dried or fresh)/sliced
1/4 tsp salted shrimp (or just salt), to know about it, click here.
a few grinds of black pepper

to marinade mushroom
1tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp mirin (seasoned cooking wine)

Prepare the mushroom. If you use rehydrated dry mushroom, squeeze out the excess water. Marinade mushroom with soy sauce, sugar, garlic and mirin. In a heat resistant bowl, break eggs and mix well with dashi. (sieve the mixture if you want very silky texture). Season with salted shrimp (or salt) and black pepper. Mix in sliced scallion, reserving some for garnish. Spoon the silken tofu into the mixture, using a table spoon. Garnish with mushroom, scallions and red peppers. Set a steamer on boiling water. Cover the lid of steamer and steam for about 20 minutes (cover the bowl too with tin foil) until the custard is cooked through. Serve with rice.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's day

I made some salted oat chocolate cookies for my friends last night. If you haven't tried to make my salted oat chocolate cookies, you should. It so good, so decadent and mesmerizing.....

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kimchi fried rice with bacons

Easiest Korean food to make!

1 cup chopped kimchi
3 cups day old cooked rice
1/2 pack of bacon (about 6 oz)
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp bacon fat
1/2 ground sesame seeds
3 eggs(or more)/fried, sunny side up
gim (toasted and seasoned Korean seaweeds)/broken to small pieces
salt to taste (if needed)

Chop kimchi to small pieces. Chop bacons too. Heat a big heavy skillet, cook the bacons until they are brow ad crispy. Take out the bacon bits with a slotted spoon. Discard the bacon fat, leaving just 1 Tbsp in the skillet. Add 2 Tbsp of sesame oil to the skillet, cook kimchi on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add sugar, stirring frequently. When kimchi becomes soft, add the rice. Add more sesame oil (or vegetable oil) if needed. Fry rice for 5 minutes, breaking apart any rice mass. Season lightly with salt if needed. To serve, put fried rice o the bottom of a bowl and put a fried egg on top. Sprinkle with some ground sesame, broken seaweeds and bacon bits.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tango, the Clone trooper


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

sesame sambal salmon

I always keep If's versatile sambal in the refrigerator. It's so useful and it significantly simplifies the cooking process. I use it for stir frying, dipping sauce, all sorts of marinade and sometimes even for pizza. Everybody who tasted this sambal (including me) couldn't help trying to make it by themselves. It is very simple to make and so yummy!

ingredients ( 2 servings)
2 salmon fillets (0.5 lb each, skinless)
salt and black pepper to season
1 Tbsp mayo (preferably Japanese kind)
1Tbsp If's versatile sambal (or any chilli sauce you have)
3 Tbsp Panko
1 tsp black sesame seeds
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp sesame oil

Preheat oven to 450F. Season salmon generously with salt and pepper. Put the salmon on a baking pan. Set it aside. In a small bowl, mix mayo and sambal together. Set it aside. In another small bowl, mix panko with black sesame seeds and sesame oil. Spread sambal mayo on salmon fillets and sprinkle panko mixture on top. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 F, then turn on the broiler. Broil until the salmon fillets become golden brown and crispy. (about 3-5 minutes) Serve with cucumber salad with sesame dressing or moo saengchae.

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