Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cold soba noodle salad

 Try this salad for your next summer potluck. I will guarantee this will be one of your favorite summer time repertoires. It's easy to prepare, looks pretty and tastes delicious.
It is a versatile salad. You can use any kind salad vegetables you have in your refrigerator. I like to use  use some spicy vegetables like radishes and arugulas with sweet tomatoes.
Prepare the salad dressing in advance, keep it cold until needed.
Soba noodle (buckwheat noodle) gives nutty and earthy flavor. 

Soba noodle salad serves 10 or more
5 bundles of soba noodle/oiled and rinsed in cold water
a bundle of radish/ sliced thinly
1 seedless cucumber/sliced thinly
1 bag of arugula
1 pack of cherry tomatoes
cooked shrimp (optional)

  1. Prepare vegetables and keep it cold.
  2. Cook noodles for 5-6 minutes and rinse under cold water. Mix with 1 Tbsp of olive oil to prevent sticking.

Salad dressing with soy sauce, wasabi and lemon
4 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp oyster sauce (available in Asian market)
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp vinegar
4 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp finely minced garlic
1 Tbsp wasabi
5 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp sesame seed oil
1 Tbsp toasted and ground sesame seeds
freshly ground black pepper

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing. Keep everything cold until serving. Mix everything together, including dressing just right before serving.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cold soy bean noodle (콩국수)

Soy bean noodle, (콩국수 [Kong-Guk-Su]) is accompanied with Yeol-Moo-Kimchi (열무김치).
I mixed soy beans with peanuts to make it even more nuttier.
The consistency is like heavy cream. It has  to be really silky.
Don't forget to drink fresh warm soy bean milk (콩국) with a pinch of sea salt. mmmm-good!

Unfiltered soy bean milk (콩국) makes 4 serving
  • 2 cups dried soy beans
  • 1/2 peanuts
  • 8 cups water
  • sea salt to taste

  1. Wash soy beans several times. Soak the soy beans in cold water for 4-5 hours. (longer in the winter time)
  2. Cook soy beans with the soaking water. When it boils, cook for 10-12 minutes. Either undercooking or overcooking will give an off taste. Taste the beans, it's ready when it tastes nutty.
  3. Cool it down. Scoop out the soy beans. ( I save the cooking water aside.) Plunge the soy beans in the cold water. Gently rub the beans between your palms. you can easily peel its skin. Try to peel as much as you can. 
  4. Transfer the beans to a blender, add peanuts. Start blending. Add bottled water one cup at a time (Use the reserved water if you want) until it reaches to a heavy cream consistency. It should be silky.
    1. Fresh Soy bean milk is very perishable. Keep it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Skinning soy beans requires some patience. Don't try to be perfect. It will become smooth and silky when it is blended.  If you prefer the texture of milk, sieve it with fine clothe. I like it unfiltered. 

  1. Cold soy bean noodle (콩국수)
  • any types of noodle such as Soba, Somyun (Somen).. for 4 servings
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber/ julienned
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • soy bean milk (콩국)
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  1. Cook Somyun (Somen) noodle in the plenty of salted water. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  2. Put some noodles on a big bowl, pour soy bean milk. Top with julienned cucumber, egg and some freshly ground sesame seeds.
  3. Serve it cold.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A day in Sudbury

I've been to Sudbury to visit our friends, more precisely friends of parents. The wife is an artist who works with clay.  Her backyard is where her works of art and nature meet-her potteries and the clay arts mingle together harmoniously with the flowers, vegetables and fruits. She made a basket full of freshly picked vegetables for me. 

The ripe melon is waiting to be harvested.
Tori (또리) is from Korea too.
I  got some Yeol-Moo (a Korean type of radish) from her. Every part of the Yeol-Moo is  to be relished.
I made some Yeol-Moo Kimchi (열무김치) which is a popular  summer  food in Korea.
I also made some Perilla (깻잎김치) Kimchi.

I usually have Kimchi paste handy in my freezer to make impromptu Kimchi like today. This is my master recipe which always works fantastic with any "Kimchable" vegetables.  e.g Korean cabbage, Napa cabbage, Perilla leaves, and all sorts of radishes.

The basic recipe for Kimchi paste (makes one gigaserving)
  • the juice of 1 Korean pear, 1 onion, about same size of Korean radish (Moo) 
  • sticky rice glue paste (to make this, cook 1 Tbsp of sticky rice powder with 1 cup of water)
  • 2 cup Dashi 
  • 2 cup fresh shrimp
  • 8 cup Gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
  • 2 cup garlic paste
  • 2 Tbsp ginger paste
  • 150 ml Korean fish sauce
  • 2 cup Korean salted shrimp(새우젖)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or Korean green plum syrup 매실청 or both mixed together depends on your taste)

Blend everything together, working on several batches, mix everything well. Keep it in the refrigerator or freezer until needed.

Monday, August 22, 2011

식혜 ([shikhae], Korean malted punch)

Shikhae (식혜) is a cherished drink by Koreans. Koreans prefer light desserts to finish their meals. Shikhae is one of the most common desserts, often served with some fruits. Making Shikhae takes time, although time itself does the most of the work.

Malt flour (germinated cereal) is the main ingredient.
You need 2 cups malt flour.

Mix the malt flour with 10 cups of cold water and leave it for 1 hour .

Rub the malt between your palms aggressively to extract all the juice.
Sieve,  pressing down as much juice as possible.
It will look like this now. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours (or overnight). Meanwhile, prepare rice.  Cook 1 cup of rice. Make it a little bit drier that you usually like.
It will become like this. Do you see the sediment on the bottom? What we need is the clear juice, not the sediment. Be careful. Do not agitate the sediment on the bottom.
Pour the malted water through cheese clothe into the rice cooker pot. Discard the sediment on the bottom.
Add cooked rice, then separate the grains gently.
Set the rice cooker on "warm" cycle. Leave it for 3 hours to develop enzyme. During this process, the starch in the malt grains will turn into sugar. You don't want to over develop the enzyme so check from time to time. When you see  30-40 rice grains are floating, it is done. 
Scoop out half of the rice. Rinse the rice and save it in the cold water. Keep it in the refrigerator until you need it.
Transfer all the fermented malted rice water to a big pot. Add a slice of ginger (or 1/4 tsp of ginger powder). Bring it to a boil on high heat then reduce the heat to medium.  Boil for 15 minutes. While it is boiling, skim the foam often. Add 1/4 cup of sugar (or more, depends on your taste). Cool down the liquid and transfer it to a container. Keep it really cold. Float some of the saved rice just right before serving.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Enter the Dragon" Hwei (sashimi) House in Jeju Island, Korea

I recently have been to Jeju Island  for a vacation with my family and friends. I had an unforgettable meal at Yong-Chul-Hwei-Jib (용출횟집 : could be translated "Enter the dragon sashimi house"?) It is located near Yong-Du-Ahm (용두암: Dragon-Head-Rock) which is 10 minutes away from Jeju international airport by car. 
Indeed, formed by volcanic activity, the rock looks like a dragon head. The legend says that the dragon stole a jade marble from god of Mt. Halla in order to enter heaven, but unfortunately he ended up being caught by god just as the dragon started its ascent. Well, it is very sad that the dragon is still here in agony as a rock. However thanks to him, we have a magnificent view of the dragon head and other wonderful views from many great seafood restaurants in the vicinity, such as "Yong-Chul-Hwei-Jib".
I have been to Jeju Island numerous times. It didn't take much time to figure out that the local tour guide who also acts as a rented car driver and photographer is not our best friend. After some trial and error, despite our tour guider's own agenda, I spoke up for our right to eat better food. Yong-Chul-Hwei-Jib was introduced by my friend who is a semi local here. The place is humble and honest. The owner and staff are warm and generous. And oh my god!!! Despite having dined at many truly amazing places all over the world, this was one of the absolute best meals I have ever had in my life. The food here is beyond extremely fresh. The seafood is literally alive seconds before it is served. Not only are the main courses out of this world, plentiful side dishes are served that are delicious and constantly topped off without asking.
we ordered Sawedged Perch (다금바리). It came with all the side dishes below.
fresh sea conch, sea urchin, octopus
fresh abalone
I had never seen/heard this before. It is a shame that I forgot the name.
Every eatable part of the fish is served beyond just the flesh, respecting the sacrifice of life to sustain life.
 Even the bones are not wasted.  As they served soup made from the bones of the fish and seaweed,
 they said this soup is so thick your lips will stick together and not open.  While not literally true,
the soup was indeed incredibly rich and scrumptious.
This place manifests the truism: less is more. Why do we need to meddle with flavors when the raw ingredients are already perfect as is?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

shaved ice with red bean paste (팥빙수)

If I had to choose just one food item from all my cravings from Korea, I would say it is Shave iced with red bean paste (팥빙수 [pat-bing-su]). This is basically made of four ingredients-shaved ice, condensed milk, red bean paste and sticky rice cake (떡[ddeuk]). I usually eat this three times a week, regardless of  the season. Yes, even on the snowy days. 
The place called "Mill-top" is the place that sells the best Patbingsu in Korea. It's unbelievable that they sell thousands of servings of Patbingsu every day. It used to be 1500 Won (ore even less), twenty years ago but now it is 7000 Won! The waiting line is long but be patient. It's worth the wait. There is a number machine (just like the one you would see in a butcher shop) which tells your waiting line number. I experienced more than 200 waitings ahead of me this summer, but I didn't give up. Their service is quick. Once you get a seat, it only takes a couple of minutes to have the Patbingsu. The only problem is when you are done eating, you need to leave soon. Otherwise, the people who are waiting will look at you with a really nasty look. The service is good there. The owner is a generous person. Most people take advantage of her, asking for extra red bean paste (which is free) when they order. Then a little later, they would ask for extra shaved ice and extra sticky rice cake(which are also free).