Jihye Chang

September 2008

Bang Bang Shrimp

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This is my favorite thing to order at the Bonefish Grille (Nice family restaurant specializing in seafood. Nice enough food with pleasant atmosphere). I tried a few times to recreate their appetizer called “Bang Bang Shrimp” and this one came very close! The only problem is the batter – I think the restaurant uses a mixture of cornstarch, flour, and salt. But I just used potato starch I had. You can also use panko as the crust. (Flour-Egg-Panko, in that order)  Use whatever you like – the sauce is more important!  

Ingredients:

Medium size shrimps (thawed, deveined, cleaned, drained)

Salt, pepper, rice wine to marinate (I always use some rice wine for shrimps and chicken before cooking. It gets rid of the odor.)

1-2 Egg white and 3TB (plus more) potato starch for the batter

Sauce ingredients: 2 TB Mayonnaise, 0.5 TB (or more) Chili garlic sauce (Vietnamese kind, not he Sriracha sauce, but the coarse kind called “Tung Ot Toi Viet-Nam.”/ 0.5 TB Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (Mae Ploy Brand)/ some lemon juice and sugar to taste

Garnish: chopped green onion

How to Make:

1) Prepare the shrimp/ marinade for 10-20 minutes/ then pat dry/ mix with 1-2 egg white (depends on how much you are making – enough to coat well)/ put the shrimp in a zip-loc bag and pour 3 TB (or more) amount of potato starch and shake well to coat 

2) Heat up the oil in a medium sauce pan or a frying pan/ fry up the shrimps. It’s better to fry twice – fry once until yellow, drain on paper towel, and then fry again until golden brown. Shrimps become much more crisp this way!

3) Mix the sauce ingredients

4) In a bowl, mix the fried shrimps and the sauce well

5) Garnish with green onion pieces and serve right away!

Coconut Shrimp with Sweet chili-mustard sauce

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This is an appetizer I made when I invited the conductor of FM Symphony, Bernie Rubenstein. He loved them and wanted the recipe – hence comes my first posting on the “Jihye’s Kitchen” section. 🙂

This recipe was based on the coconut shrimp with honey mustard dipping sauce on a Korean blogger’s site.

http://blog.naver.com/hyleeyan.do?Redirect=Log&logNo=53725960

I changed the sauce to my taste, using Thai Sweet Chile sauce. (Mae Ploy brand) Also I used regular salt and pepper, not the herb salt/ also I added some rice winte to the marinade.

I usually avoid making fried dishes as it’s a waste of so much oil and it’s bad for the environment, but this one is worth the trouble. I will post another fried shrimp appetizer so that you can maximize the use of your oil!

Oil: Canola oil or corn oil works the best. 

Ingredients: Shrimp (Uncooked! Large size works better than jumbo, but it’s up to you.)/ Dash of salt and pepper + 1-2 TB rice wine (depends on the quantity of your shrimp) to marinate the shrimp/ Enough Flour, 1-2 eggs, and Sweetened shredded coconut for batter 

Sauce Ingredients: 1 TB Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (Mae Ploy Brand)/ 0.5TB whole grain mustard (any kind)/ 0.5TB freshly squeezed lemon juice/ 0.5 TB-1TB mayonnaise (Start with this, and adjust according to your taste. You can omit the mayo and mustard as well.)

How to make:

1) Prepare the shrimps (thaw, devein, wash, drain)/ sprinkle salt and pepper and some rice wine – not too much, otherwise shrimps will be too watery

2) Prepare 2 plates – one with flour, one with coconut/ put 1-2 egg(s) in a bowl and whisk with fork. Heat up the oil in a fry pan or a medium sauce pan with heavy bottom. (up to 170C – usually I just drop a little bit of the batter – if the batter drops to the bottom and floats right back, the oil is ready.)

3) Make the sauce

4) Put the shrimps in flour to coat –> then dip in the egg –> then roll over the coconut to coat well. The more you the better!

5) Fry the shrimp until golden brown/ crisp. Don’t crowd the pot too much – fry the shrimps in a few batches! Otherwise the oil temperature drops too quickly and shrimps will not be crisp.

6) Drain on paper towel or wire rack, and serve with the sauce.

Club Espresso, Seoul

LatteClub Espresso in Buam-dong, Seoul (image from www.clubespresso.co.kr)

Korea’s cafe scene has changed drastically over the past 10-15 years, and now the big cities in Korea are bustling with amazing independent roastery and artisanal cafes.

The term “roasted beans” was a very strange one in the early 90s as “coffee” in Korea meant  instant powdered coffee for such a long time. The most popular and available kind back was a single packet of coffee granules with lots of sugar and palm-oil based coffee cream powder. (aka “coffee mix”, which is still readily available in supermarkets and convenient stores) In the early 90s, stores like Jardin coffee and Bremer coffee opened with the name “Wondu coffee” meaning coffee made from roasted bean (basically dripped coffee) and became very popular among young people. I was a high school student and loved giong to one of those Jardin shops with my friend in our school uniforms – it was like a very big guilty pleasure as we were not so sure if it was ok for high school students to drink coffee but it tasted good nonetheless!

The big sales point of such “wondu coffee” shops were flavored coffees. It was fun for a while but soon I learned that those French vanilla flavored and Raspberry chocolate flavored coffee beans were old coffee beans with new make-up. Then in 1999 the first Starbucks shop opened in Korea – I was back for a summer break from my graduate studies at Indiana University, Bloomington, where one of the first Starbucks shops suffered a window damage from a local vandalism. After the huge success of the first Starbucks store located in the biggest women’s college in Korea, almost every universities in Seoul had to have one nearby. Every summer break I would go back home and there would be more Starbucks stores.
Then smaller chains started catching up, providing cheaper espresso drinks. Big shopping areas like Myungdong and a lot of college areas were covered with big and small coffee shops.

I cannot recall when the artisanal cafe movement began in Korea, but I remember visiting a small coffee shop near Korea University where the owner was roasting his own beans and served really fresh and super-tasting coffee as early as 1996 or 1997. I would also hear about and visit some independent coffee shops with ridiculously high price tag ($8-9 for a cup of dripped coffee or cappuccino!) since the late 90s. Also many cake shops opened with small coffee bar as well as big bakery-cafe chains such as “Twosome place” and “Paris Croissant.” (Korean bakeries are very much like Japanese bakeries, which was largely influenced by French baking style. The cakes are much smaller and lighter than the American varieties, and the selection is much larger.)

Quite a few really awesome cafes with great coffess with $4-5 price tag became popular during the past 3-4 years. These shops are usually run by young people who recently finished their barista training, who roast their own coffee in the store, and who run a coffee academy along with the cafe. This kind of artisanal cafes seem to be replacing the cheap, small chains and become more and more popular. In 2007, a soap opera called “Coffee Prince No. 1″featured a high-end cafe that hired only men as their baristas and became a mega-hit in the TV box office. I think that raised the awareness on the good coffee, barista, and so on. One interesting thing is that a lot of these artisanal coffee shops focus on the hand-dripped coffee. To me, it’s like a very delicate version of Costa Rican Chorreador – the barista takes great care of the water temperature, texture of the coffee, and height and direction of the water poured into the ground beans. Watching this kind of coffee-making is almost like watching a painter working on an art-work. This kind of dripped coffee is 10 times better than machine dripped coffee, but still my passion lies on espresso drinks…

One of the best coffee shops I visted in Korea is called “Club Espresso,” and this shop serves really amazing espresso drinks. They have a big roasting machine in the store, and they sell freshly roasted beans by the bag. Pretty spacious and comfortable as well. This shop also serves really fantastic cookies, cakes, and cheese cakes, all baked in the store. The only problem is that it is a little difficult to get to unless you have a car. The owner here worked in various coffee shops in the early 90s and self-taught a lot of things before he went to Japan to learn some more.

Here is the direction:

Take the subway line 3 (orange line) and get off at the “Gyungbokgung” station.
Take a bus (1020, 7022, and 7018) and get off at the “Buam dong office” – it’s on the way to the “Bookak san” road.

Website: www.clubespresso.co.kr (only in Korean)

* There is a very famous dumpling restaurant called “Sonmandoo” if you follow the “Bookak san” road. They serve homemade Korena style dumplings at its best with nice view of the Bookak Mountain. Have a bol of dumpling soup or steamed dumpling there and walk down to get some coffee at the Club Espresso – a perfect day.

Great Cafes in America #2

Octane Coffee Bar and Lounge, Atlanta, GA

Octane cafeLatteEspresso Macchiato

Recently I visited Montgomery, AL, to attend a music festival (See www.clefworks.org). Since I had a few extra days after the festival, I took a day trip to Atlanta to visit a few coffee shops in the city. My dear friend Deborah, who is one of the sweetest people I know but directionally challanged almost to the same level as I am, kindly agreed to drive with me. (Her husband Charles got worried and spent considerable amount of time teaching her how to use the GPS machine…)

I did some research through http://www.indiecoffeeshops.com/ and reviews on google and yahoo. After a few days of web-browsing, I came up with a list of 3 coffee shops: Octane Coffee Bar and Lounge, Joe’s East Atlanta Coffee Shop, and Aurora Cafe. (Java Monkey and Dancing Goat looked great but they were more like a smaller “chain” not an independent coffee shop. However the beans from Dancing Goat turned out to be really great, so I am sure I will visit that cafe next time I am in Atlanta.) 

With the GPS shouting out loud, we had almost no problem finding the lovely store, tucked in betwen Jefferson Street and Marietta Street.  (The store is right on the corner, so it’s easy to miss.) As soon as we entered the store, we knew it was going to be good – it was a large space with nice and relaxed atmosphere, high ceiling, and a lot of customers, and a La Marzocco machine!

We ordered a small latte and a double espresso macchiato along with some yogurt+granola and hummus snack plate. At Octane, they call the prepared coffee and the customers go to pick them up. I think this system works better because the time that coffee sits around, making the espresso go rancid, is shorter. Both drinks were prepared with such care and high quality – caramel colored espresso with pleasant aroma, deep and balanced flavor, and golden crema topped with beautiful foam and some art.

Before my visit I contacted them via email, and only the manager from Octane replied. He was not there when I arrived but one of the baristas was happy to help. (Thanks again, John!)

From John Deborah and I learned why La Marzocco machine is good – I always knew I liked espresso coming out of that machine, but did not exactly know why. John told us that it’s because of the separate boiler system that allows the supreme consistency and controll over steaming and extracting. We also learned that they use coffee beans from the Counter Culture – famous roastery in North Carolina. John explained that the baristas are trained with 3 steps – consistency (focusing on the consistency of dosing, extracting, and foaming), 100 Q and A test, and then a mock barista competition! Also they have a latte-art competition that’s purely for the visual pleasure and fun. 

Their granola was a bit too cinammon-y for my taste, and hummus was on the salty side, but for a cafe-food they were good enough. Their main focus is coffee, and they do have one of the best coffees I have tasted.

It is always nice to see people who really care about what they do and who are proud of their work. I will continue my journey to meet more people like the ones at Octane! (more information on this shop at www.octanecoffee.com)  

* I changed my plan and went to the “Tilt” coffee room as John recommended. Tilt was a beautiful looking cafe, but the drinks (latte and macchiato) tasted too bitter. I think I am just not a big fan of Intelligentsia beans.. Joe’s East Atlanta Coffee Shop was very much like the Soma cafe in Bloomington, IN – a bit smelly, not-organized, but comfortable. Their espresso drinks were too mild and lacked the intensity and flavor. Joe’s cafe is one of the oldest independent cafes in Atlanta, and it seems to be still very popular.