Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Soondubu Jjigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

With a rich, flavorful, spicyhot broth and the delicious complement of lots of light, healthful, and nutty tasting soft tofu, soondubu jjigae (pronounced SOONdooboo TCHIgeh), literally "soft tofu stew," is becoming an increasingly popular standalone Korean dish here in the US.

As with most jjigae dishes, this stuff is usually served screaming hot in an earthenware pot with a raw egg served on the side to be cracked into the bubbling hot mixture and left for a few minutes to cook in that superhot residual heat before digging in.

While it helps to have an earthenware pot if you happen to like your soups and stews almost unbearably temperature hot, in true Korean fashion, you don't need one to make this dish. A small heavy duty stainless saucepan or enamel coated cast iron pot will do just fine.

The recipe I'm sharing today includes pork, but if you've ever had soondubu jjigae at a restaurant, you know that you can get beef, seafood and vegetarian versions as well. You can easily substitute the pork in this recipe for an equal amount of other protein. If you're doing a seafood version (smaller shrimp, clams, and pieces of squid or baby octopus work well), you might like to add your protein halfway into the cook time rather than at the beginning in order to avoid overcooking it.

Soondubu Jjigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)

Serves 2. Easily doubled.
Time: About 45 minutes
Printable Version

- 1/2 small onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) or 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes to start
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 pound pork belly or shoulder, cut into small strips (about 1.5" x .5")
- 2 cups unsalted stock (chicken, pork, beef or seafood are all fine) or water if you don't have stock
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- *optional: 1 chopped fresh chili
- *optional: 1 teaspoon saewoo jut (Korean brined microshrimp) or camaron molido (ground shrimp owder, which can be found in the spice section of your local Latino grocery)
- 1 pound soft tofu
- 1 egg
- 1 small green onion, chopped

1) Put all ingredients except soft tofu, egg and green onion in a pot and bring to vigorous boil over medium high heat. Continue to let it boil for another 3 to 4 minutes.

2) Loosely crumble the tofu and distribute evenly over boiling stew mixture, cover partially, and continue to boil over medium high heat for another 3 or 4 minutes.

3) Gently stir to incorporate all ingredients and adjust seasoning if needed. At this point, you can just add kosher salt for added salt element. You may want to ratchet up the heat with more chili flakes, too.

4) Bring the stew up to a vigorous boil again for 2 or 3 minutes.

5) Remove from heat, crack raw egg into center, sprinkle green onions top, and serve with steamed rice on the side.

Don't forget to spoon some of the boiling hot stew broth (enough to cover) over the top of the raw egg and leave it undisturbed for 3 to 4 minutes to cook the whites through.

Serve with a bowl of steamed rice and some kimchi if you've got it, and enjoy. :)


Full cooking album HERE. (Disregard the boiled pork shoulder - that was for lettuce wraps. :) )

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Soy Balsamic Rosemary Lemon Marinade

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

As you might already know, I refer to my Asian mama as LAM (Little Asian Mama).

LAM and I are as different as we are similar, but if there's one way in which I am unequivocally like LAM, and many other old school Asian mamas, it's that I show you I love you with FOOD.

So when I got together last weekend with two fabulous girlfriends whom I love, who both happen to love lamb, I wanted to treat them to one of my favorite lamb preparations, which is rack of lamb marinated in my Soy Balsamic Rosemary Lemon marinade, and then either grilled or roasted.

Since it was such a lovely evening out by the time we got home from our Girls' Day shenannies of pedis and drunken pottery painting, I enlisted The Man, who also loves rack of lamb, to man the grill for our Greek-fusion inspired Surf & Turf menu of aforementioned lamb; whole Red Snapper grilled and topped with a chimichurri made of parsley, garlic, olives, tomatoes, lemon, red chili flakes and olive oil; and a Greek salad with Spring greens and roasted beets.

It's such a blessing to have friends with whom you can be completely real, and have real fun while you're at it. And it's such a privilege and pleasure to get to show them some TLC by way of NOMs. :)

Additional props to The Man who just goes about being an awesome dad while I'm away like it's business as usual.

Soy Balsamic Rosemary Lemon Marinade
Makes about 1 cup marinade. Easily doubled.
Printable Version

The rosemary and lemon zest make this marinade a great complement for the somewhat grassy and gamey flavor of lamb, but it's also great for dark meat chicken, pork chops, and fattier cuts of beef.

- 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
- zest of half a lemon
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, grated (or you can use 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 2 teaspoons to 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients except oil and stir or whisk until sugar is completely dissolved. Taste and adjust seasoning before adding oil.

That's it!

I suggest marinating any of the recommended proteins for at least 3 or 4 hours, and up to 24 hours on the outside. I generally like it best somewhere between 6 to 8 hours or so where the marinade has taken, but the salt in the marinade hasn't begun to cure the protein.

As always, one of the most effective methods for even marinating is to put your protein in a Ziploc-type bag, pour your marinade in, coat the protein, suck all the air out of the bag before you seal it so that the bag clings to the protein, and then lay it flat in the fridge, flipping it over halfway through the marinade time. (Except in the case of something like rack of lamb where all the muscle is on one side, in which case, just leave the meat side down.)

If I have a considerable about of marinade left, I often like to make extra sauce of it by bringing it to a gentle boil on medium high heat for about 1 minute with about a Tablespoon of oil (and maybe also a Tablespoon of brown sugar), and then bring the heat down to low and simmer for another 3 or 4 minutes before cutting the heat. I then just spoon it over the meat before serving, and that extra punch of flavor always goes over well.

If you need some reminders about doneness temps for various types/cuts of meat, HERE you go. :)



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chorizo Chili

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

As this morning was cool and gray, and inspired me to make this in advance for tonight's dinner, I thought it as good a time as any to move this reader favorite recipe over to the new blog. :)

This recipe started out as a surprisingly awesome Fridge Cleanout that really seems to have caught on with peeps. I think there's something universally appealing about the savory comfort of a good bowl of chili. Throw some chorizo in there, and it becomes all the more irresistible.

Omit the beans (or don't), and it makes a great topping for burgers, hot dogs, nachos, baked potatoes, and chili cheese fries.

Chorizo Chili
Serves 4 to 6
Time: About 90 minutes
Printable Version

- 1.5 Tablespoons oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped into a 1/4-inch dice
- 1 large red bell pepper, cored and chopped into a 1/4-inch dice
- 4 jalapeños, minced (how to choose jalapeños)
- 10 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
- 10 to 12 ounces Mexican chorizo, pork or beef (the kind you have to cook, as opposed to the Spanish cold cut type)
- 15 ounce can of tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons cayenne (or more to taste)
- 2 teaspoons cumin (there's already quite a bit of cumin in the chorizo)
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon Tapatío or other generally Mex-flavored hot sauce with a notable acid element like Valencia, Cholula. Tabasco will work in a pinch.)
- 2 cups unsalted stock, chicken or beef
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt to start
- 1 or 2 15 ounce cans of beans of your choice, drained (depending on how much you like beans) I prefer garbanzos.

1) In a preheated medium pot (at least 4 quarts), sweat the onions, peppers and garlic in the oil until the onions are translucent. (Probably 4 or 5 minutes.)

2) Turn the heat up to medium high and dump in the ground beef, chorizo, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, hot sauce and stock, using a spoon or spatula to break up the beef and chorizo, and give everything a few gentle stirs to distribute all the ingredients evenly.

3) When the chili comes to a gentle boil (say a bubble per second or so), turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, lid askew (with a 1/2-inch opening on one side), for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4) Add the beans and kosher salt and stir them in to distribute evenly. Gently simmer again (gently meaning that there's barely detectible movement under the surface), lid askew, for another 40 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom every 10 minutes or so.

Scraping the bottom is a good way to monitor if the heat is too high for slow cooking. If you can scrape fond off the bottom of the pot while doing a long simmer, your heat's too high, and you should adjust down accordingly.

5) After 40 minutes, check the seasoning of your chili, and if you want to add more salt or spices, add them now, stir thoroughly a few times, and let it simmer again, partially covered for another 10 to 15 minutes. If not, it's ready to eat. :)

I always like to serve chili with chopped fresh tomatoes, onions, chilies and cilantro on the side (or alternatively the Pico de Gallo Salad linked below) as well as some grated cheese and sour cream.

Enjoy. :)


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Super Easy Provençal Inspired Roast Chicken

One of my favorite chicken preparations is this Provençal-inspired roast chicken because it makes great use of four ingredients I almost always have on hand (chicken, tomatoes, olives, herbs) and really is such a simple, elegant and delicious dish that is just too easy not to make.

It's most commonly made in a stew-type preparation, but we really enjoy the taste and texture of the roasted veg alongside the chicken. And even though it's not super brothy, you do get a delicious pan sauce that's perfect for sopping with crusty bread.

You can make this with canned tomatoes if/when you can't get your hands on decent fresh ones, but, it's an extra special treat when you can make it with sweet, flavorful fresh ones like the kind I lucked into on clearance at the market over the weekend. The yellow grape tomatoes were specially delicious roasted.

Super Easy Provençal-Inspired Roast Chicken
Serves 4 to 6
Time: About 90 minutes total, 15 minutes active

This recipe is for 4 to 6. My photos are a scaled down version, You can easily halve this recipe to make less.

Taking your ingredients out of the fridge 30 to 45 minutes before cooking in order to bring them up in temperature will create less steam and result in a better roast, but it certainly won't be the end of dinner if you don't have time.

To keep it crowd-friendly for those with more finicky or less developed palates, you might like to stick with safer herbs like parsley and thyme.

- 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, patted dry
- 6 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into sixths if beefsteak shaped, quartered if Roma/plum shaped (I halve them vertically, cut out the little stem, and then cut the halves into equal halves or thirds.  If you're also using some or all grape tomatoes like I did, 8 to 10 of them equal one regular tomato - no need to cut them.)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into sixths
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
- 3/4 cup well drained olives (salty black ones or Kalamata types are typical, but I use whatever's on hand)
- 1 lemon, half cut into 1/4-inch thick slices, the other half juiced
- 2 to 2.5 teaspoons kosher salt (depending on how salty your olives and how salty you like your food)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley and/or basil
- optional: up to 2 teaspoons dried herbes de provence (or any combination of the herbs that go into it, if you don't have the specific blend: basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, fennel, lavender, savory)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil

1) Preheat the oven to 425F.

2) Place all ingredients in a large roasting pan or baking dish, except for the lemon slices, finishing by sprinkling the salt, pepper and herbs as evenly as reasonably possible over the entire area. (This reduces the amount of tossing/jostling of ingredients needed to evenly distribute the seasoning.)

3) Get in there with your hands and gently toss all the ingredients together to evenly distribute the seasoning.

4) Pull the chicken pieces and distribute them evenly atop the vegetables, skin side up. Distribute the lemon slices atop a few of the chicken pieces.

5) Roast the chicken in the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, then move to the next rack up to encourage browning on the skin for another 45 minutes.

And that's it!

I like to serve it with slices of crusty bread on the side for a super easy and complete meal, and the soft, sweet roasted garlic is specially delicious when paired with a little butter on that bread. 

And in warm weather like we've been having, we find a chilled Sauv Blanc or Pinot Gris/Grigio is a perfect way to wash it down.

Bon appétit! :)


P.S. Leftover roasted veg (if any) is great with pasta or in an omelette.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hot & Spicy Korean-Inspired Potato & Pork Stew (Gamjatang/Gamja Tang)

Since I almost always buy pork shoulder on my weekly shopping trip, and since I had a bunch of potatoes that needed to get used up sooner than later, and since I had some perilla leaves ready for the picking from the garden, I decided to make this gamja tang-inspired stew for dinner.

Gamja tang (pronounced GAHMjah TAHNG, gamja = potato, tang = stew/soup) is a thick, hearty, spicy Korean stoup usually made with pork neck bones and lots of potatoes then sprinkled with julienned fresh green perilla leaves (called kkaenip in Korean).

It's a popular hangover dish for obvious reasons, and you'll find lots of 24 hour restaurants in Seoul serving it to the late night drinking crowd before they head home for the night morning.

This version is made with boneless pork shoulder, is slightly lighter and brothy-er, and sprinkled with purple (Vietnamese) perilla rather than green because that's what I have available, but to taste it, you'd definitely know what inspired it.

If you can't get your hands on green or purple perilla (you'd most likely find the green at a Korean market, and the purple at a Vietnamese or multi-ethnic Asian market with lots of SE Asian foods), you could use shiso, which is a more delicate Japanese perilla (which you would most likely find at a Japanese market). While perilla has an ever so slightly spearminty quality to it, I'm not sure I'd go that route. It certainly wouldn't taste bad, but it wouldn't taste Korean, either.

If you can't get your hands on any perilla, some finely chopped green onion, while not a flavor substitution in the least, is a totally typical and appropriate flavor and garnish for the dish.

As is typical for Korean cuisine, you'd serve this with a bowl of steamed rice, kimchi, and maybe a couple of other banchan (side dishes) on the side, but just the stew and rice would make a simple, hearty and delicious meal.

Hot & Spicy Korean-Inspired Potato & Pork Stew (Gamja Tang)
Serves 4 to 6 with some steamed rice
Time: About 60 minutes, most of it inactive

As with many Korean stews, this is mostly a dump, bring to boil, then lower to simmer jobbie. Doesn't take much work but the knife work and a little waiting.

If you don't have gochujang, you can substitute with 2 to 3 teaspoons cayenne + 1 Tablespoon paprika (unsmoked) + plus 1 Tablespoon soy sauce.

If you don't have gochugaru, you can substitute with 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon red chili flakes (like the kind you use for your pizza/pasta).

- 1.5 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 cups water and/or unsalted stock (I used half water, half unsalted chicken stock.)
- 1/2 medium onion, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 Tablespoons gochujang (Korean red chili paste)
- 2 Tablespoons gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes)
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce or fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1.5 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 1-inch pieces (that's about 3 medium or 4 small ones)
- 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/3-inch thick slices on the bias

- salt to adjust seasoning if needed

- optional: julienned fresh perilla leaves for garnish
- optional: chopped green onion for garnish

1) Place all ingredients except potatoes and carrots into a large pot, cover, and bring to a gentle boil for about two minutes over medium high heat. When the stew comes to a boil, give everything a good stir to evenly distribute and incorporate all the ingredients.

2) Turn the heat down to medium low, cover again, and simmer for 20 minutes.

3) Add the potatoes and carrots, cover again, and simmer for another 20 minutes.

4) Give the stew another stir or two, put the lid back on askew, and continue to simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes over medium low heat. Give it a taste and adjust the salt level with salt if necessary, and that's it!

Serve in individual bowls or family style (as is typical for most casual Korean family meals), sprinkle with perilla and/or green onion, and enjoy with a bowl of steamed rice. If you want to save yourself some dishes, you can combine the stew and rice in one bowl, which is a totally Korean thing to do.

Enjoy. :)


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fried Tofu with Chili Garlic Soy Sauce

The best way to get a meateater who's never tried tofu to hate it is to serve it as a meat substitute.

Because there is no way in hell a brick of soybean curd is ever going to take the place of a juicy steak, or a meaty pork chop, or even a piece of chicken breast. Well, maybe a chicken breast... specially if it's the boneless, skinless kind...

But that is exactly what happened to the 6'4" Man of Midwestern stock whose second to last significant love interest - upon embarking on a granola kind of lifestyle - subjected him to a steady diet of tofu and tofu byproducts, all of which presumably tasted *just like* meat/hotdogs/burgers/whatever you could mold it to look like and/or whatever else you season it with because everybody knows that the hippies, veggies, and foodpundits love to tell you that tofu takes on the flavor of whatever seasonings you use.

Which is what led him to tell me one day,

"Babe, I hate tofu. And quinoa, too."

No you don't, Man. You don't hate tofu. What you hate is tofu that's served as meat. What you hate is tofu fashioned into *burger* patties. What you hate is when people tell you to just sprinkle some Bacos on tofu and it'll taste just like bacon.

You like tofu. You know why? Because firstly, tofu tastes like tofu - mildly nutty and yes, wildly adaptable, but not in the way that unshaven, essential oil spritzing hippie chick told you. And when you prepare tofu to complement its flavor rather than mask it, you don't have the undesired effect of finding out that it really doesn't taste just like whatever you sprinkled on it. Secondly, because it is such a simple and elegant food, it takes well to simple, easy, and elegant preparations.

You like it like this:

Fried Tofu with Chili Garlic Soy Sauce
Time: About 30 minutes

- a roughly 1 pound package firm tofu
- salt for seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil for frying

For the sauce:

- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1.5 to 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1.5 to 2 Tablespoons vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- sliced fresh chilies to taste (jalapenos or serranos are good for this dish)
- 1 Tablespoon sliced or chopped bulb onion
- crushed red chili flakes to taste

- 1 green onion, chopped for garnish
- optional: toasted sesame seeds for garnish

1) Slice the tofu into roughly 1/2" thick slices widthwise. Pat dry with a paper or cloth towel on both sides and season lightly with salt.

Don't mind the cubed stuff up top. 
That was for miso soup.

2) While the tofu is air-drying a bit, make the sauce by combining all sauce ingredients and stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Start at the low end of the measurements and adjust upward if needed. Some folks like things sweeter and/or tangier than others.

3) In a preferably non-stick fry pan, heat the oil to medium high, and fry the tofu, about 3 minutes per side, until it's light golden brown. If you like a slightly thicker, browner crust, turn the heat down to medium and go 5 to 7 minutes per side.

4) Plate the tofu, spoon the sauce over it, sprinkle some chopped green onions on top, and enjoy. :)

"Babe, I *like* this tofu."

I know. :)

See? That wasn't so bad now, was it? ;)


P.S. No hippies or veggies should have been harmed in the reading of this post. I'm just poking a little patchouli scented fun. :P

Friday, May 2, 2014

Garlic Parmesan Croutons

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

With the weather getting warmer and more condensation getting trapped in your bread bag, you might find your crusty bread growing a few mold spots here and there quicker than expected. But they don't have to render your loaf useless if you pick off the mold and make croutons of what's left. And they taste so much better than storebought.

Perfect to top a Caesar (among other salads). My Surprise Lemon Caesar Dressing recipe here.

Easy Garlic Parmesan Croutons
Time: About 60 minutes total, 10 minutes active
Printable Version

- 5 cups of stale crusty bread (baguette, sourdough, Italian, Cuban loaf - that type of thing) that's been cut into 3/4" cubes
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 3 to 4 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1) Preheat oven to 350F.

2) Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss several times until all ingredients are thoroughly and evenly incorporated and distributed. Doing this with your hands is best so you can apply gentle pressure as you're tossing, ensuring that all the seasonings adhere to the croutons.

3) Spread the croutons evenly on a half sheet pan or cookie sheet and bake in middle rack of the oven for about 35 to 45 minutes depending on the density of the bread (until they're golden brown and don't yield to gentle but firm pressure - you can always cool one and try it to see if it's crunchy all the way through). Midway through, give the croutons a flip with a spatula, scooping up as many will fit on the spatula surface and flipping them like you would a burger.

4) Cool COMPLETELY before you put them into a container, else the residual heat will create steam and make them soggy.

Enjoy! :)


Full album HERE.