Category Archives: Korean

Chicken with Gochujang Sauce, Korean Rice Cakes (Tteok) and Celery

This wonderful one-pot meal is a perfect example of how my Asian food experiments evolve throughout months or years: first, they typically become spicier, more garlicky (if it suits them); then they get adjusted to my lazy nature, becoming easier and eliminating side-dishes, requiring even less dish washing… This one started with the Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken, to which I added gochujang and lots of garlic, then one day I threw in some celery (avoiding the necessity of a side dish) and, finally, I ha the idea to complete it with the cylindrical tteok rice cakes creating a delicious easy one-pot meal.

Tteok (떡) is a Korean word weirdly translated as “rice cake”. Contrary to what most Asian cuisine neophytes think (“rice cakes” exist in some other cuisines too), rice cakes are savoury and I would rather compare them to gnocchi. Of the two most famous kinds – coin-shaped flat ones and cylindrical ones – I prefer the latter, much chewier and thicker, and actually find them highly addictive. The flat ones are cooked in a mild typical New Year soup (tteoguk), while the cylindrical ones are most often simmered in a sweet & fiery sticky sauce (tteokboki). Cylindrical tteok can be found in two sizes and my favourite are the smaller ones (probably because I eat less of them…) and you see them at the above photograph. Whether big or small, I find my favourite tteok extremely versatile: I stir-fry them and add to different soups and sauces, not only Korean (they work perfectly with the remains of Indian or Thai curry…).  If you find them refrigerated, they freeze very well (I usually freeze individual portions) and if you buy them frozen, don’ thaw them; once at home, quickly divide them at home into portions and have fun experimenting!

If you don’t have rice cakes, you might want to try Shoyu Chicken in Gochujang (with or without celery):

Shoyu Chicken with Gochujang

TIPS: This dish is easily reheated or defrosted, but if you are sure you’ll want to keep it for later use, it’s better to cook it without rice cakes which are less chewy when reheated and without celery, which becomes too soft (for me). Remove the sauce’s and chicken’s amount for later use and add the celery and rice cakes only to the same-day portion.

If you don’t like having bones in your bowl or plate, remove them before serving, but don’t use boned chicken legs. Bones add lots of wonderful flavours.

If you like soft chicken skin, leave it. I always use skinned chicken legs when simmering because I hate soft skin (I love it crisp from the oven though!).

Preparation: about 2 hours

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 small chicken legs (cut into two pieces), without skin or two big thighs

100 ml (about 3 fl oz) low-sodium Japanese soy sauce (or 70 ml of “normal” soy sauce)

300 ml (about 10 fl oz) water

60 ml (about 2 fl oz) agave syrup or honey

2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or any other vinegar)

2 heaped tablespoons gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

4 big garlic cloves chopped or sliced

toasted white sesame seeds, chopped green onions

2-4 celery stalks, cut into bite-sized pieces (“threads” removed)

250-300 g rice cakes (fresh or defrosted)

(1-2 tablespoons sesame oil)

Bring all the sauce ingredients to a boil (apart from the four last ones : sesame seeds, rice cakes celery and oil).

Lower the heat, put the chicken into the sauce, cover (add more water if needed) and let it simmer for at least one hour until the meat falls apart from the bones (if the chicken has actually walked, i.e. free range or organic) it might take two hours.

Add the rice cakes and let them simmer until they become thicker (it takes usually about 15 minutes).  Add the celery and let it simmer until the celery is soft enough. I like it crunchy, so I add it ten minutes before the end, but you can add together with rice cakes (it will cook 20 minutes and will be soft).

Finish cooking it uncovered until the sauce thickens.

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, green onions and with sesame oil.

 

Pork Spare Ribs in Gochujang (Korean Chilli Paste) Sauce

ribs_gochujangpI love pork ribs, but they have always been a rare treat, due to their fat content. I usually manage to avoid them in the summertime, but when it gets colder I start dreaming of my beloved sticky Chinese ribs simmered in soy sauce…. This autumn I’ve already made my beloved Chinese sticky pork ribs simmered in soy sauce and recently I thought I’d experiment with gochujang sauce I usually simmer chicken legs in (see the recipe here). I didn’t change anything apart from adding ginger which usually goes well with pork. If you like a mixture of sweet and fiery flavours, you will fall in love with this easy dish, just like I did.

If you don’t like hot flavours, you might be interested in this delicious Chinese dish:

Chinese Spare Ribs Braised in Soy Sauce with Star Anise

Chinese Spare Ribs Braised in Soy Sauce with Star Anise

TIPS: Gochujang is a sticky Korean chilli paste. It has a slightly sweetish taste, it’s really unique and cannot be replaced with anything else. The good news is that it’s sold in “general” Asian shops (I find it in Chinese and Vietnamese shops) and most of all, it’s sold widely on internet, also on Amazon.

You can prepare the same dish with any fatty pork cut (belly for example) and even with tenderloin (adjusting the ingredients’ amounts and the cooking time), but not with loin, which will be too dry.

Apart from the normal soy sauce, you can add also some Chinese dark soy sauce. I find it great with Korean dishes, though I know it’s not Korean…

Preparation: 1h30

Ingredients (serves two-three, depending on how much meat there is on the bones):

1 kg pork ribs (I always trim the fat and cut them in half horizontally if they are long, but neither is necessary)

100 ml (about 3 fl oz) low-sodium Japanese soy sauce (or 70 ml of “normal” soy sauce)

300 ml (about 10 fl oz) water

60 ml (about 2 fl oz) agave syrup or honey

2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or any other vinegar)

2 heaped tablespoons gochujang (Korean chilli paste)

2 big garlic cloves chopped or sliced

3 cm fresh ginger, sliced

toasted sesame seeds

(1-2 tablespoons sesame oil)

Put all the ingredients into a pan (apart from ribs, sesame oil and sesame seeds).

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and put the ribs.

Cover and cook for about 1 hour.

Take off the lid and check if the meat falls off the bone.

If it’s the case, increase the heat to medium (thus the sauce will thicken). (If not, cover and cook until the meat becomes more tender, then increase the heat and uncover to thicken the sauce).

Cook until the sauce is thick enough for you.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and add a splash of sesame oil.

(You may want to remove the ginger slices before serving, unless they were really super thin and edible).

Korean Style Monkfish with Smoked Bacon and Indian Spices

 

monk_baconpI recently saw on tv a French chef preparing the relatively popular monkfish wrapped in bacon. I buy monkfish as often as I can (i.e. whenever the price is reasonable) because I love it for its subtle taste but also for its firm flesh and versatility. This smokey fish reminded me of the Korean squid with bacon and Indian spices, discovered at the excellent Beyond Kimchee blog and replacing, since then, the ex-favourite, more traditional Spicy Korean Squid. Since I prepare Korean style monkfish quite often (see the recipe here), I decided to spice it up in a similar way, adding of course the smoked bacon. It worked just perfectly! At the end, just before serving, I put on top another delightful product: chopped Korean Pickled Garlic (the dark brown pieces in the middle of the bowl) and it was one of the best fish meals I’d had for years.

Monkfish in Korean-Style Gochujang Sauce

Monkfish in Korean-Style Gochujang Sauce

Korean Squid with Smoked Bacon and an Indian Touch (my slightly modified version)

Korean Squid with Smoked Bacon and an Indian Touch (my slightly modified version)

Pickled Korean Garlic (Manul Changachi)

Pickled Korean Garlic (Manul Changachi)

TIPS: Even if you buy a prepared, skinned monkfish fillets (or a whole skinned “tail”), you should make sure to remove all the traces of grey and pinkish thin “film” because it will shrink during the cooking process and somehow degrade the texture. You can try peeling it off with fish bone tweezers.

Of course, you can use any firm-flesh fish you like instead of the monkfish.

Gochujang, the Korean chilli paste is unique and impossible to replace. If you don’t have any Korean grocery shop nearby, gochujang is sold widely on internet, almost all around the world, so most of you should be able to buy it (check your local Amazon). Look for it also in Japanese shops and other Asian grocery shops. If you cannot find gochujang, do not try to replace it with other chilli pastes. It is not similar to any chilli product I have ever tasted and is an extremely important ingredient in the Korean cuisine (and it has a rather complex taste, hence the difficulty with a replacement). It keeps for ages, after opening, in the fridge, so it’s a good investment (in case you are wondering, what to do with it, check this link).

The below ratio of the sauce ingredients should be treated as approximate. Adjust the level of heat, sweetness or saltiness to your taste. Don’t exaggerate with turmeric: you can make your sauce bitter.

Preparation: about 30-40 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

400-500 g monkfish “tail”, cleaned (see the TIPS) and cut into bite-sized chunks

3 stripes (thin) of smoked streaky bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces

(a small handful of soybean or mungo bean sprouts)

salt

4 tablespoons sake

2-3 tablespoons oil

white part of two green onions, sliced

Sauce:

2 garlic cloves, crushed or grated

2 heaped tablespoons gochujang (see the TIPS)

2 tablespoons sake

1 tablespoon Korean chilli powder (or other medium hot chilli powder)

1 tablespoon honey or syrup or sugar

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

10 tablespoons (or more) of stock (chicken/vegetable/dashi/Korean fish stock….whatever you like) or water

1 tablespoon chopped green onions or chives

(2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil)

Sprinkle some salt on monkfish and 4 tablespoon of sake.

Put aside for 10 minutes.

Combine the sauce ingredients.

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan.

Fry the bacon and put it aside (don’t remove the fat from the pan).

Pat-dry the monkfish pieces and quickly brown on two sides (at high heat) in the bacon fat.

Take them out of the pan.

Add the sauce ingredients to the same pan and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and put the monkfish pieces, as well as the white part of green onions into the sauce.

Add more water or stock if necessary (it depends also on how watery ou want your sauce to be) and simmer the monkfish until it’s soft but not dry.  Check often the texture with a fork because monkfish is easily overcooked.

At the end add the sprouts (if using) and fried/grilled bacon. Give the dish a stir just to warm those up.

Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds, green onion and a splash of sesame oil.

If you have Korean pickled garlic, it’s excellent with this dish.

Kimchi Stew with Chicken, Poached Egg and Konnyaku Noodles

kimchi_konnyaku_Just like every year when I go on my Japan holidays, I promised myself to keep on blogging from my hotel room and… once more somehow it didn’t work. I hope you will excuse me this long absence here and from my friends’ blogs. The trip was, as always, very enriching (especially since this time I made a short stop in Seoul too!), so I’m looking forward to sharing with you some of most recent food inspirations and discoveries in the future.

This loose interpretation of a kimchi soup is a delicious, filling but very light – or even diet! – dish I made several times before my holidays. It is not a traditional Korean recipe (especially since it contains Japanese products…), but in my opinion it shows very well the complexity matured old kimchi adds to hot dishes. In fact, the flavours are so rich, there is no need to have stock or even to think of any additional seasoning. Slightly spicy, slightly salty, tangy… the result is always perfect and the preparation effortless. Whether you add the konyaku (aka “zero calorie”) noodles or any other kind of noodles, the stew is delicious, warming and light. In short, perfect for cold days, especially when one isn’t keen on speding hours in the kitchen. Now that I’m back I sincerely regret having no more kimchi in the fridge…

If you have never heard about konnyaku (or shirataki) noodles, they are made from konjac (Amorphophallus konjac, also called devil’s tongue) by drying its corm, which is then reduced to flour and mixed with water to obtain a gelatinous substance, formed into noodles, blocks, “gnocchi”, ball-shaped products… all sold in plastic bags filled with water (although konnyaku powder also exists and can be added to drinks). Konnyaku products are all very rich in fiber and help digestion (they are called “broom for the stomach”… so don’t exaggerate and don’t have them for every single meal!). Due to their high water content konnyaku is known as “zero calorie”. All the derived products have become famous outside of Japan (especially among people who want to lose weight) and nowadays can be found in many “standard” shops too, but watch out: some have tofu, vegetable extracts or other ingredients added which might change their nutritional values. In this stew I have used udon-shaped konnyaku noodles, i.e. thicker and chewier (my favourite of all the konnyaku products)and you can perfectly replace them with normal udon or any noodles of your choice.

TIPS: If you have never used konnyaku products, take them out of their bag and rinse well. (Don’t be put off by the fishy smell. It will disappear.) Put the noodles (or any other konnyaku product) into a pan of boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. Rinse well under cold water and put aside. Now they are ready to be added to your stew or stir-fry.

The poached egg is not an obligatory item here of course, but as a big egg lover I was thrilled to discover dolsot (the Korean pot you see above) in which I can cook my soup, poach my egg and then bring to the table. In short, if you want the egg white to set in your soup, you will need either dolsot or a Japanese nabe dish or a small cast iron casserole/dutch oven (make sure it can be safely used on the stovetop, not only in the oven!).

If you don’t have any of these, I advise making the soup in a normal pan and poaching the egg in another one (or frying it), then adding it to the serving bowl. If you don’t mind the egg white being still wobbly and transparent, you can break the egg to your bowl just before serving.

You don’t have to stir-fry the chicken pieces, but I think it improves flavours of both the soup and the chicken meat.

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

1 teaspoon oil

1/2 small chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 small onion or shallot, sliced

3-4 heaped tablespoons of old (very sour) kimchi, cut into pieces

some kimchi juice (depends on how hot you want your stew)

500 ml – 750 ml (about 2-3 cups) hot water

1/2 portion of konnyaku noodles, rinsed and parboiled (see the TIPS above) or a whole package if you manage to eat it

1/3 courgette, 1/2 small sweet pepper or any vegetables of your choice, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 egg

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

green onions, chives or edible chrysanthemum leaves (I used these here)

Heat the oil in your bowl or casserole.

Stir-fry the chicken pieces and the onion slices at medium heat until the chicken is half cooked.

Lower the heat and add the kimchi.

Stir fry for a minute.

Add the water and the noodles and let the soup simmer for ten minutes.

(TIP: If you want your vegetables soft, you can add them now, but if you want them to remain crunchy, add them at the same time you break the egg into the dish).

Afterwards, add the vegetables, make a “nest” in the middle of the dish and delicately break an egg into it.

Cover with a lid and cook until the egg white is half-set (it will continue cooking, so if you want your yolk to remain runny, take the dish off the stovetop at this stage).

Sprinkle with chives, green onion or edible chrysanthemum leaves and add a teasponful of sesame oil just before serving.

I have also sprinkled some furikake (Japanese rice topping) on top. You can use freshly ground black pepper instead or powdered chilli or shichimi togarashi (Japanese spicy seasoning).

Savoury Egg Custard (Chawan Mushi) with Kimchi and Chicken

kimchi_chawI prepare Japanese egg custards (chawan mushi) and modify them so often, I was sure I had posted one of the versions earlier this month. Luckily, it was in March, so I hope it’s not too early to talk about them once more. The egg custard I’m presenting today started with a Japanese base, but ended up combined with kimchi. I have read about Korean savoury egg custard (gaeranjim), but have never seen kimchi as its ingredient and, most of all, I have never tasted or made it, so I’m not sure to what extent this dish is Korean… Whatever the country I attach it to, I now consider kimchi among the best ingredients to put into an egg custard.

Even though I prepare chawan mushi also in colder seasons, I do this much more often in spring and summer. Maybe because I’m not Japanese, I consider this dish as one of the best ways to use up leftovers (grilled chicken, mushrooms, different vegetables…) and am rarely disappointed with accidental versions I obtain while cleaning up the fridge. This one was a bit risky and I have put kimchi only into half of the batch, just in case… As in every dish including old, matured kimchi (see Kimchi Fried Rice or Kimchi Canned Tuna and Tofu Stew), its presence ensured an incredible complexity of flavours. The smell was strong (typical of kimchi), the looks were not particularly attractive, but the custards were perfect. I particularly appreciated their tanginess, pleasantly cooling on a hot June day.

A small reminder about chawan mushi (茶碗蒸し), it is a light savoury egg and stock custard, steamed in individual cups served both hot and cold. Chawan means “tea cup” and “mushi”: “steamed”. I have never managed to source the ingredients necessary to make the traditional version, so this is how my experiments started. I definitely prefer it made with chicken or vegetable stock rather than the Japanese dashi. (The chicken stock version was suggested by renowned Shizuo Tsuji in “The Japanese Cooking. A Simple Art”, the source of this custard recipe, so I feel entitled to say this without feeling I spoil it). 

In case you don’t have/like kimchi, here are some other chawan mushi versions I have already posted here:

Chawan Mushi (Egg Custard) with Asparagus

Chawan Mushi (Egg Custard) with Asparagus

Shungiku no Chawan Mushi (Egg Custard with Chrysanthemum Leaves)

Shungiku no Chawan Mushi (Egg Custard with Chrysanthemum Leaves)

Chawan Mushi with Shrimp and Green Peas

Chawan Mushi with Shrimp and Green Peas

Chawan Mushi with Chicken and Thai Basil (Horapha)

Chawan Mushi with Chicken and Thai Basil (Horapha)

Chawan Mushi with Chanterelle

Chawan Mushi with Chanterelle

Chawan Mushi with Grilled Enringi (King Oyster Mushroom)

Chawan Mushi with Grilled Enringi (King Oyster Mushroom)

TIPS: You can prepare this dish with newly made kimchi too, but it will certainly taste better with at least two weeks’ old one. (I have tested this custard only with Chinese cabbage kimchi, so I’m not sure how other vegetables would behave here, but I guess it’s worth trying!)

As I have mentioned above, I prefer by far chicken stock rather than Japanese dashi, but you can use whichever you prefer. Obviously, homemade chicken stock is the best here since, contrary to more elaborate dishes, you do feel its taste clearly here.

Even though chawan mushi is easier to prepare in a steamer, Shizuo Tsuji’s suggestion to use a water bath in the oven gives excellent results, if you don’t have a steamer. I have been preparing it for years this way before I finally bought a stovetop steamer.

If you don’t have a nearby Japanese grocery shop, individual, but high heatproof cups may be difficult to get. You can also use ramekins or mini-soufflé dishes, tightly covered with aluminium foil.

Chawan mushi can be served with a salad and bread (or rice and pickles) as a light main course, but it’s also a fantastic starter, a delicious breakfast or snack for any time of the day.

Chawan mushi can be reheated in a microwave. Depending on the ingredients it will lose more or less of its flavours, but it’s still delicious and handy as a quick snack or breakfast the following day.

Mistuba is the traditional herb used in chawan mushi. It goes perfectly practically with every version of this dish, but if you cannot get it, use green onion, chives or any fresh herb that you like (or nothing).

A pinch of turmeric is my own invention. It doesn’t drastically change the taste, but it does bring a yellower hue, especially if your eggs are pale.

Special equipment:

individual heatproof cups (at least 6 cm high, mine were 6,5 cm high, with a 7,5 cm diameter) with lids or without lids + aluminium foil to cover them

Preparation: 45 minutes

Ingredients (yields 4 cups):

4 heaped tablespoons chopped matured Chinese cabbage kimchi (drained)

4 teaspoons of kimchi “juice”

1 chicken breast cut into bit-sized pieces

(mitsuba leaves or green onion or other fresh herbs)

Custard:

2 eggs

300 ml/about 10 oz homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock or dashithe Japanese stock

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sake or mirin (with mirin the custard will be slightly sweetish)

1 teaspoon soy sauce

(a pinch of turmeric)

Preheat the oven to 220°C or prepare your steamer.

If you use the hot water bath method boil a lot of water and prepare a big baking dish at least as high as the heatproof cups.

Mix the eggs very delicately in a bowl. In another bowl combine the chicken stock, salt (it depends on how salty your stock is), sake/mirin and soy sauce. Pour the stock mixture over the eggs and stir well, without beating.

Divide the kimchi and the chicken breast equally into the four cups. Add the kimchi juice.

Strain the custard mixture and pour into the garnished cups (make sure there is at least 1 cm free space at the top because the custards will slightly rise).

Cover the cups with aluminium foil or the lids if you have special cups with lids.

If you use the oven, place the cups in a big baking dish. Fill the dish with hot water (not boiling). The water should arrive up till 3/4 of the cups’ height.

Put the dish in the oven and let the custards bake for 15-20 minutes until they are wobbly but already set.

If you use a steamer, steam for about 20 minutes. Check with a toothpick if the custard is set below the surface.

Garnish with fresh herbs.

Serve hot or cold with bread/toast for breakfast, with a salad for a lunch, as a snack or as a starter.