Jihye Chang

“Jihye’s (mostly Korean) Kitchen”

Concerning Kimchee

Kimchi -or Kimchee- is probably a synonym for Korean food to a lot of people. It was once featured on Saveur magazine , and recently New York’s Danji restaurant made “kimchi chorizo paella” famous.

Many people in America seem to have a bad first encounter with kimchi. When not made well or not “matured” well, kimchi could be extremely off-putting with strange and stinky smell. (Although I think it is slightly more tolerable than really strong blue cheese or stinky tofu). A lot of Korean people who live abroad has a kind of “love-hate” relationship with kimchi. You may be able to live without it, but you crave it so much. You want to make it, Whenever one’s mom comes over or ships a package, some disaster happens with shipping a tub of homemade kimchi. Once I had a box delivered in a big plastic bag, swimming in bright red juice that came out from the box containing my mom’s kimchi. I was so grateful that the post office delivered it to me, not throwing it away!

Fundamentally Kimchi is a way of preserving vegetables for a long time. There are so many kinds of kimchi in Korea as you can make it with any kind of vegetable. The most frequently eaten kind is made with Napa cabbage, “Paechu” or “Baechu”. Summer version and the easy version of this Paechu kimchi is made with cut-up and salted Napa cabbage. But the most important kind is the one that is made with whole head of cabbage, stuffed with thinly sliced radish seasoned with garlic, green onion, ginger, red pepper powder, fish sauce, fermented shrimp and so on. Below is a photo of my mom’s kimchi, winter 2012 edition, in a big container and thick plastic bag. It doesn’t look much appetizing, but it is so yummy! It even smells nice.

During late November and early December, almost every household in Korea is faced with making a large amount of Paechu kimchi for the winter. It’s usually a cooperative effort – you help your neighbors’ kimchi making and you will get their help when it’s your turn. I used to love helping my mom and eating the raw kimchi with extra stuffing, although it sometimes made me have a tummy ache in the evening. 🙂

Next in line is kkagdugi, which is made with Korean radish (a little bit plumper than the Japanese daikon) cut into small dices.

                                * This image is a photo I took of the Saveur magazine.

When you eat Sullung-tang or Seolong-tang (Korean style clear bone and meat soup), you get radish kimchi that’s cut up a little bigger as well as some Napa cabbage kimchi. (See photo below)

My favorite kimchi is “Chonggak kimchi,” which is made with radish that is very much smaller than the regular kind. It is so good with some bone soup or beef soup, or just good plain rice!

Different regions in Korea have different styles of kimchi making. Also every household has slightly different recipes and secret ways for making good kimchi. Some prefer putting sweet rice “glue” (thick porridge kind of thing) in their kimchi, some like to put fresh shrimp and squid in the stuffing, others like their kimchi simple and not too fussy, and so on. Usually the southern part of Korea called “Cholla” area uses a lot more fish sauce and seafood in their kimchi, and people in Seoul make moderate amount of seasonings and stuffing items.

Now, making kimchi at home is a long and labor intensive procedure. When one’s short on mom’s kimchi supply, one must rely on the store bought kind. My favorite that’s available in the U.S.A. is “Chongga Pogi Kimchi” (종가집 포기김치). This is not the cut-up kind, but the whole head of cabbage in a vacuum sealed package or a plastic tub. You can purchase it in any H-Mart off/online.

For cut-up kimchi, Ochonnyon (오천년) brand in a jar is OK, and more readily available in smaller towns’ Korean markets. However this brand’s kimchi feels a bit more artificially flavored (=too much MSG and sugar) to my taste.

I have introduced kimchi zigae (soup) with canned tuna before. I will post recipes for kimchi fried rice and kimchi pancake soon. Those are the bests!

* For those who are interested in knowing more about kimchi: visit Pulmuwon’s Kimchi Museum online. http://www.kimchimuseum.or.kr/

Korean “Ssam-Bap” (rice and other toppings wrapped in lettuce leaves)

“Ssam” in Korean means something wrapped. What David Chang serves at his Ssam-Bar is a variation on something called “Bo-ssam”, which is steamed pork belly with radish kimchi, bossam kimchi, or cabbage leaves. There are many restaurants in Korea specializing in Ssam, and the fare usually includes rice (sometimes seasoned and shaped nicely), various kinds of wrapping leafy-things, and many condiments and toppings.

When Koreans eat grilled meat, meat is not the main actor. We put small pieces of meat in the middle of red leaf lettuce or sesame leaves and top it with many kinds of sauces and other vegetables.

I cooked “ssam-bap” with tofu and grilled beef Bulgogi (marinated ribeye) for New Year’s Eve, and my friends all loved it. So here is a list of simple recipes and ingredients.

1) To Grill

Bulgogi – I got Ribeye steak and sliced it myself. You can purchase really thin slices for “Bulgogi” at Korean markets. Or you can freeze the meat 20 minutes and then slice as thin as possible. Season with salt and pepper.

Easy way: Marinade 1lb beef with 3TB soy sauce, 2TB sugar, 0.5TB sesame oil, minced garlic 1TB, chopped green onion, little bit of black pepper, and 1ts rice wine (Not mirin, but cooking rice wine or sherry or sake). Some recipes will call for more sugar, or some mirin, some chopped green onion. But this is the basic and you can adjust with what you like. (more sesame oil, more sugar, molasses, brown sugar, honey, etc. I don’t put any vinegar in my beef marinade, though.)

Fancy way: Marinade 1lb of beef with 2TB Asian Pear juice, 1 TB sugar for 10 min.

Then add to this marinade for 30 min: 1 TB cooking rice wine (or sake), 1 Tb Sesame oil, 3TB soy sauce, 1 ts sugar, 1TB chopped green onion, 2 clove chopped garlic, 1 TB honey. (Taste this and adjust seasoning. You don’t have to use all of the marinade. Originally it’s for about 600g of beef, and a pound is 450g)

For pear juice, grating Asian pear would be the best option. If not available, you can use canned juice (shown in the picture gallery) instead.

Also you can just grill small slices of your favorite steak cut with some salt and pepper.

Tofu – this is not a typical item to grill for ssam, but my vegetarian friends liked it very much. Prepare firm organic tofu. Salt and let it sit for 20 minutes. Wipe off excess water with kitchen towel. Fry in oil until golden brown and crispy.

Pork belly (“Samgyeop-sal) – you can find thinly sliced pork belly in Korean grocery stores. You just grill the sliced pieces until they are golden crisp.

Mushroomsenoki and shiitake are very good. The “Sae-Songi” mushrooms at Korean grocery stores are really good, too. They are long and fat white mushrooms.

Green onions (2 inch long)  and onions (sliced as rings)

2) Wrapping vegetable

Red leaf lettuce, sesame leaves (you can find them at big Korean grocery shops such as H-Mart.), mustard greens, steamed cabbage leaves, etc. (Romaine lettuce doesn’t work so well, though.)

3) Sauces – you can prepare as many or little as you want!

a) Ssam-jang: 3 TB gochujang (Korean chili paste. Get Soonchang brand or Haechandel), 1 Tb doenjang (Korean fermented bean paste), 1 TB chopped garlic, 1 TB sesame oil, 1 TB sugar, 0.5 Tb corn syrup, 2 Tb chopped green onion (optional: 1 Tb toasted sesame seeds)

b) Sesame-Salt oil: 1 part pepper, 3 part salt, and 2 part sesame oil. Mix with this proportion. This mixture is very good for pork belly and any non-marinated meat.

c) Tuna ssam-jang: 1 can of tuna in olive oil, drained. Chop 1 serrano chili and half an onion. Put 1 TB sesame oil in a medium sauce pan. Put the tuna and stir fry a few minutes. Put 2TB doenjang (Korean fermented bean paste), 1TB gochujang (Korean chili pepper paste), 1TB toasted sesame seed, 1TB chopped garlic, 1/2 ts ginger juice, 1/2 TB sugar, 1/3 cup water and 1TB mirin (Japanese sweet cooking rice wine)

d) Ground beef with Korean chili paste (Yak-gochujang): Prepare 1/4 lb ground sirloin. Marinate with 1 ts soy sauce, 1 ts sugar, 2 ts chopped green onion and 1 ts chopped garlic for 10 minutes. Put 1 TB sesame oil in a medium sauce pan. Add the marinated beef and cook until about 80% done. Add 3 TB Asian pear juice and cook until the meat cooks and the water evaporates a bit. Add 1 cup of gochujang, 1 Tb sugar. Stir and cook for 10 minutes. Mix with 2 TB honey.

4) Side Vegetables

a) Shredded cabbage and onion with mustard sauce: Mix 2 Tb soy sauce, 1 ts prepared mustard (or wasabi), 1 Tb rice vinegar, a bit of sugar – add to very thinly sliced cabbage and onion. If you can find Asian chives (very thin, pungent smelling green vegetable), add some of them here.

b) Green onion salad (“Pa-Jeori”): You need to find thick green onions called “Dae-Pa” from a Korean grocery store. Slice it as thinly as possible. Make the seasoning with 1ts salt, 1 ts sesame oil, 1 Tb toasted sesame, 1 Tb powdered red chili (“Gochugaru”) and 1 ts sugar. Season right before serving.

Prepare the sauces/ Prepare the meat/ Make the side vegetables/ Wash the wrapping vegetables/ Set the table/ Grill the meat…then ENJOY! 🙂

Making Kimchi (Kimchee) Jigae #1 -with canned tuna

Kimchi is probably the most well known and widely misunderstood Korean food. If you have ever tasted really good home-made, well-ripe kimchi, you know that it’s not something just smelly or awfully spicy. Most popular and widely eaten kimchi is Paechu-Kimchi made with Napa cabbage, sliced radish, and seasonings (salt, fish sauce or other kinds of seafood stuff depending on the regional taste, red pepper powder, garlic, green onion, ginger, sugar, etc.) Good kimchi is has balanced taste of sourness, crunchiness, spiciness, saltiness, and it’s very sexy! Think of it as a spicy and more glorious version of Saurkraut. 🙂

You can make so many kinds of yummy dishes using kimchi – kimchi fried rice, pancakes, noodles, and even spaghetti! I plan to write more details about Kimchi and its history some other time, but today I am going to tell you how to make a very simple kimchi soup (“jigae” or “zigae”)

Kimchi jigae with canned tuna [Chamchi Kimchi Jigae]

There are probably as many Kimchi jigae recipes as there are moms and cooks in Korea. You can make this dish with various kinds of meat (canned tuna, pork belly, canned pike, canned mackerel, clams, bacon) and different types of soup stock. Methods varies a lot as well. (Stir fry meat first and then pour water, put everything in a pot and simmer for a long time, season the meat beforehand, cook the meat with kimchi, etc.). Chong-Ga brand’s un-cut kimchi is the best you can get at grocery stores. Un-cut kimchi is made with the whole head of napa cabbage, and you should cut it yourself before eating. If you can’t find it, get the store manager’s recommendation or a pick a jar that still has some liquid in it and has a faint sour smell to it. Kimchi jigae needs kimchi that’s ripe, not too “young.” If kimchi tastes too salty without much sourness, you may add some rice vinegar. Don’t buy small kimchi jars sold at regular grocery stores as they don’t taste good and they are so overpriced.

Ingredients:

About 2 cup (400g) cut Kimchi, mixed with 0.5 Tb sugar and 0.5 Tb sesame oil (See the picture above!)

1 can of Dong-Won brand’s Kimch Jigae Tuna. You can find it at any Korean grocery store. If you can’t find it, use any canned tuna (4.5 oz) in olive oil, and use 1.5 cans/ put a bit more seasonings and red pepper powder.

1/2 Onion, thinly sliced

1 Tb Canola oil (or any oil that has not a lot of flavor. If you want some more kick, use the Korean style chili oil.)

2-3 cups water (enough to cover kimchi, but not too watery) It’s more tasty if you use soup stock made with dried anchovies and dried kombu (“tashima” in Korean), but water is fine.

1/2 organic firm tofu, thinly sliced

0.5 Tb Korean pepper powder/ 2 strips green onion, chopped/ Soy sauce or Kimchi juice (from the jar)  to taste

(Optional: 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced)

How To Make

1) Heat the canola oil in the stainless steel sauce pan (2 quart) or Le Creuset (2 quart) type of pot. Stir fry kimchi for about 3 minutes, on medium heat, until softened a bit.

2) Put water. Then put the onion and canned tuna. Close the lid and cook with medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.

3) Open the lid and cook until the onions are soft and jigae smells good. Then arrange tofu slices around the pot and put 0.5 Tb of the red pepper powder in the middle of the tofu circle. (Add garlic with the pepper powder, if you are using.) Spoon some soup over the tofu slices and gently push them down so that they sits below the surface.

4) Cook until tofu is warmed through, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning either with kimchi juice or a bit of soy sauce.

5) Put the sliced green onion and cook about 30 seconds more and then serve!

This soup with a bowl of rice makes such a quick and comforting dinner. Enjoy~ (Hmingi, I hope you like it! :))

How to make chili oil (Korean style)

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My good friend Hmingi wanted to know how to make the chili oil I mentioned in my previous posting “Jihye’s Spicy Sesame Noodles” (http://jihyechang.com/wisdom/2009/11/27/jihyes-spicy-sesame-peanut-noodle)

Szechuan style chili oil is made with hot peanut oil and dried chili seeds or flakes. However we make chili oil with dried chili powder (“Gochugaru,” 고추가루) and garlic in Korea. Korean style chili powder is very different from “chili powder” that you would use for chili soup, so make sure you get it from a Korean grocery store! I also like to add a bit of grated ginger and salt. There are a few different methods for making the chili oil, but my favorite method is photographed above.

Here’s what you need:

1 cup oil (Canola or Sunflower seed)

4 TB Korean chili powder or powdered chili (Gochugaru), 4 cloves garlic, minced/ 0.5 ts grated ginger/ a pinch of salt

And this is how you make:

1) Heat up the oil in a small sauce pan – hot enough, but not smoking hot. I usually heat it up until the surface of the oil gets a bit shimmery. If the oil’s too hot, it will burn the chili powder. If it’s not hot enough, it will not release much flavor from the other ingredients.

2) Line a big strainer (as in the picture) with a kitchen towel. In a small bowl, mix the chili powder, garlic, salt, and ginger carefully. You don’t have to mix it thoroughly. Put the chili powder mixture over the strainer.

3) Prepare a heat-proof bowl underneath the strainer.

4) Pour the hot oil evenly and slowly over the chili powder mixture. If the chili oil comes through the strainer too slowly, wait a little bit and then pour again.

5) Cool completely and store in a glass jar.

This oil is great for making the best Kimchi fried rice and other yummy Korean foods. I will post something about Kimchi and Kimchi-related recipes soon!

Concerning Chili Sauces

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(From left: Gochu-jang, Toban Djan, Sriracha Sauce, Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, Taiwanese chili paste with garlic and oil, and Tabasco chili sauce. Bottom: a tube of sweet and sour gochu-jang for cold noodles – in-flight meal, Korean Air, from Seoul to Chicago)

I used to get a bit frustrated and a bit annoyed whenever a recipe called for “chili sauce” or “hot sauce” without explaining or specifying WHAT KIND. And then there is the overwhelming confusion one gets in front of hundreds of red bottles at any Asian grocery store. After reading many cookbooks and cooking a lot with different types of “chili sauces”, I came to understand more about chili sauces in general and now have a few favorite brands and ideas to share. I have had the idea of writing about chili sauces for a long time and finally finished it today. 🙂

1. Korean Chili Sauce

Gochujang – This is more like a chili paste than sauce, made with dried chili powder, rice, fermented soy beans, and salt. Gochujang has thick, almost sticky texture and sweet soy bean flavor along with spiciness that kicks in slowly. This is the sauce that goes on top of Bibimbap, one of my friends’ favorite Korean food. Korean chefs use Gochungjang for all kinds of dishes – stir fried spicy pork (Toeji bulgogi), stir fried squid and octopus (Ojingeo bokkum & Nakji bokkum), all kinds of spicy stews (Zigae), spicy noodles and so on. Also very popular among Koreans (especially the younglings) is tokpokki, which is rice cake sticks, fish cakes, and vegetables simmered in sweet Gochujang sauce. It’s also good with plain rice (short grain rice, not Jasmine or long grain)and a few drops of sesame oil. You can also mix in some minced garlic, rice vinegar, sugar, and a bit of sesame oil to make a delicious sweet and sour sauce for Korean style sashimi rice (“Hoe dup bap”) and spicy and sour somen noodle (“Bibim guksoo”) Soonchang gochujang from Chung Jung Won brand is my favorite.

2. Chinese Chili Bean Sauce

Toban-Djan (Chinese chili bean sauce)- This is the famous Szechuanese chili bean sauce (or chili bean paste) that’s used in Ma-Po tofu, Twice cooked pork, and other Szechuan style dishes. Lee Kum Kee brand is very good and trusted. This sauce is highly salty and has very strong fermented flavor. Stir-frying it in oil makes it more tasty and less smelly. Also you need to add some sugar, soy sauce, or Hoisin sauce to balance the flavor. This is different from Chili garlic sauce, which has more sour taste.

3. Other Asian Chili Sauces

Chili Garlic Sauce – This is coarse textured chili sauce that comes usually in a round plastic container with a green cap, from Huy Fong Foods. (There’s a rooster on the label.) You will see this in a lot of Vietnamese restaurants. It has very pungent and sour taste with lots of saltiness and spicy kick. I love putting it on top of Pho or anything that tastes bland. I prefer not to cook with it as it’s a bit messy.

Sriracha Sauce – More smooth type of chili sauce that has a little tang. This is sold in a tall tube with pointy tip. It’s used sometimes as a garnish on top of spicy tuna or other kinds of spicy sushi rolls. Sriracha has a cleaner taste compared to Sambal Oelek, and can be mixed with mayonnaise. I have only seen and used the Hui Fong Foods brand Srirach Sauce.

Sambal Oelek (Ground fresh chili paste) – This looks very similar to Chili garlic sauce and also comes in similar looking plastic jar, but with a golden label. I have never used it, but Huy Fong explains that it has only chili, not garlic.

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce – This is a really nice chili sauce that’s not too spicy and well balanced with pleasant sweetness. I love the Mae Ploy brand. Thai sweet chili sauce is wonderful as a dip for fresh spring rolls, mixed with a bit of lime juice. Fried chicken wings covered in this sauce are more often spotted in restaurants. About any fried food will go well with this sauce.

4. Chili in oil – Not exactly “sauce,” but still used a lot in Asian cooking. Thai style chili (or chili seeds) in oil is sometimes used as a dipping sauce ingredient and sometimes as a tom-yum ingredient. Mae Ploy and Pantainorasingh are good brands. Japanese Ra-Yu (or La-Yu) comes in a very small container, and it’s great for making spicy mayonnaise along with Shichimi (Japanese 7 spice mixture). I like the S& B brand. Korean food also uses a lot of chili flavored oil, usually sesame chili oil. Haeorum brand makes very flavorful chili sesame oil. Taiwanese chili paste in oil is used mainly as a dipping sauce ingredient for hot-pot.

* Update, 2016 April: I have recently discovered the Chili Crisp in Oil – such yumminess! You can buy “Lao gan ma spicy chili crisp” even on Amazon. It’s great as a flavor enhancement for any dipping sauce (I love dipping my dumplings in a soy sauce and rice vinegar mixture topped with this), or as a condiment over rice.  Taiwanese Bull’s Head BBQ sauce has the look of chili paste in oil, but has more complexity (it contains some fish paste and other seasonings). It’s quite yummy on noodles (especially on Taiwanese Nuro-mien.)

There’s also pickled chili used for Szechuan/Sichuan “fish flavored” dishes, and I have a bottle from my mother in law in the fridge. I will post something when I have enough courage to open it and cook with it..

6. American/Western Chili Sauce -“Hot Sauce”

Chili sauces are often called for Cajun cooking or for Buffalo wing kind of recipes in American cookbooks. Also these sauces are used as base of BBQ sauces. I think Asian chili sauces are more complex in flavor and not always sour while American hot sauces are always vinegar-salt based and often scorching-hot. Tabasco sauce seems to be the most commonly found and used, but I personally like the Cholula Chile sauce with wooden cap and Frank’s hot sauce. (Cholula is great on top of omelet or buritto.) I also like to add a few drops of Tabasco sauce in my tomato meat sauce. My husband loves pouring the Tabasco over his pizza and blister his lips. There are so many kinds and brands of chili/hot sauces with different level of hotness – they will kick your taste buds, numb your tongues, and make you cry!

I once saw a recipe for shrimp cocktail sauce that called for “chili sauce.” I think there is “chili sauce” that is made by Heinz, and my guess is that this is what that recipe needed.

Whoa. I think that’s about it. I am now going to make some spicy tuna rice ball with shichimi, mayonnaise, chili oil, and some sriracha sauce! 🙂

Mom’s Summertime Somen Noodle

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This is one of Ben’s favorite snacks, especially in the summer. My mom used to make it whenever I and my brother and sister were hungry and she did not have enough time to make a full meal. Somen is very thin wheat noodle, and it’s sold usually in a large packet with 8-10 bundles each tied with paper strip. This dish is super easy to make and only takes about 10 minutes. And it is so tasty! If you have some left over rice and a can of tuna, you can serve it with some rice balls as well. (I will post a recipe for that soon.)

Mom’s Summertime Somen Noodle

Ingredients

2 sticks somen noodle (Japanese or Korean thin wheat noodle, labeled as “Somen” or “Thin noodle”)

Dressing: 2 TB Soy Sauce, 3TB seasoned rice vinegar (such as Marukan), 3/4 TB toasted sesame oil (such as Kame or Baeksul brand) – mix together. If you have plain rice vinegar, sprinkle one pinch of sugar when you mix the dressing with the noodle.

1 clove garlic, minced/ 2 stems green onion (green part only), chopped/ black pepper

How to Make

1) Boil the noodle according to the package. Drain and wash with cold water. (Swish with chopsticks while boiling in order to prevent the noodles from sticking)

2) Pour the dressing and top with garlic and green onion. Mix thoroughly with chopsticks. Sprinkle a bit of black pepper.

3) Enjoy!

Tip: here is how I cook my Somen noodles.

Boil the noodle with a pinch of Kosher salt -> put the noodle in when the water starts rolling -> when it boils again, pour some cold water -> boil again ->pour cold water -> boil again and then drain/ wash.

Jihye’s Spicy Sesame-Peanut Noodle

szechuannoodleI made this noodle for a party and many people wanted the recipe. It’s my variation on the Szechuanese Tan Tan Men and spicy cold noodle. You can vary the topping and the amount of seasoning according to your taste!

1) Cook the noodle:Thin Spaghetti noodle, cooked al dente and drained/ washed with    cold water.

2) Prepare Topping: Cooked chicken, cooked tofu, peas, asparagus, red bell peppers,  etc. (whatever you want!) Plus liberal dose of toasted white sesame seeds

3) Make the dressing – this is the basic proportion. You can alter the saltiness, spiciness, and the amount as you go. This can easily be doubled.

2 TB soy sauce – Kikkoman is good all purpose soy sauce. Also Sam-pyo soy sauce from Korean grocery stores is good

1 TB Creamy peanut butter

1 TB Peanut oil and 0.5 TB canola oil (or 1.5 TB canola oil, if you don’t have the peanut oil)

1 TB Chili sesame oil (less if you don’t want it too hot) – get Korean Chili sesame oil from CJ Baeksul or Haioreum brand/ or Japanese chili sesame oil from S&B

0.5 TB Asian toasted sesame oil – get any Japanese or Korean brand, not the unrefined sesame oil

2 TB Unseasoned rice vinegar – get any Japanese or Korean rice vinegar. Mitsukan is good and easy to find.

1 ts Sugar (or more)

2 TB thinly sliced green onion and 2 cloves garlic, minced+2 pinches of ginger powder or 0.5 ts of minced ginger


Mix all the sauce ingredients and taste/ adjust seasonings to your taste

4) Mix the noodle with 2/3 of the dressing and put the topping. Drizzle the dressing over and serve! (You may garnish the topping with crushed peanuts or more green onion slices.)

Enjoy~~

Mother in law’s Nuro-Mien (Taiwanese Noodle Soup)

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Last year I participated in an amazing fund-raising event called “Gourmet Soup Kitchen.” It was for the homeless shelter in Fargo, and was organized by Linda Coates and other wonderful people of this area. I was one of the chefs who donated 5 gallons of soup, and I made the “Nuro-men” which is Taiwanese national beef noodle soup. My soup was the first to run out (partly because I did not make the full 5 gallons..) and a lot of people asked for a recipe. It is really easy to make but you do need a specific spice packet that’s shown in the picture. If you can’t find it, you may substitute it with some star anise, clove, ginger and cinnamon.

Ingredients:

1 pack (about 1.5 lb), Beef boneless short-rib

0.5 lb, Flank steak (This is for more flavorful and less oily soup. You can replace it with more short-rib meat.)

4 garlic cloves

1-2 TB Canola oil

1 rock sugar clumps, about 1 inch diameter (or a few small pieces of rock sugar)

2 TB rice wine (Mi-Chiu is good. You can also use sake or dry sherry. Do NOT use Mirin, which is the sweetened rice wine!)

1 soup packet labeled as “Spice for Spiced Food” from Taiwan – this you can find in Asian grocery stores. This soup packet contains cinnamon, cloves, star anise.

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 lime, sliced and 1 tomato cut in half

Chopped green onion and cilantro for garnishing

Dried Asian Noodle – not egg noodle or thin noodles. I used Korean Udon noodle (Choripdong brand). Japanese udon noodles would work, too.

Taiwanese chili sauce for extra spice (optional) – get the “Ichiban hot chili and garlic paste”

How to Make:

1) Cut the meat in 2-3 inch cubes. Pat with kitchen towel and get rid of any blood.

2) Slice the garlic.

3) In a large Dutch oven or Le Creuset pot, put the cooking oil and heat up the pot.

4) Put the meat and garlic slices. Stir until the meat is a bit browned and garlic is fragrant.

5) Stir in the rice wine and mix well

6) pour enough water to cover the meat and 1 inch more/ put the soy sauce, rock sugar and tomato.

7) Lower the heat and simmer for about 1-1.5 hours until the meat is really tender.

8) Put the sliced lime and put into the soup and simmer for 30 minutes more. Taste the soup and put more soy sauce and sugar according to your taste.

9) Cook the noodle and drain according to the package.

10) Put the noodle in a deep bowl and pour over the soup. Garnish with green onion and cilantro and serve hot. Enjoy!

Jihye’s Favorite Summer Rolls

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This is, along with my spicy tuna sushi, the crowd-pleaser,  and the most popular dish among all the things I can cook.

So many people have asked the recipe for these – and here’s my little secret.

Ingredients

Vietnamese Rice Papers: look for two roses on the package. That’s the best kind, my Vietnamese student once told me. Prepare a big bowl filled with hot-warm water that you can put your hands in.

Rice Stick: get a very thin kind. Not the kind you would use for Pad-Thai. Soak in warm water for about 20 minutes and then boil quickly in hot water for 30 seconds and then drain.

Extra Firm Tofu: I always use organic tofu. Place the tofu on a flat surface and put a cutting board on top of the tofu. Put a heavy object on top of the cutting board so that water can be squeezed out. After doing that, wipe out the water with some kitchen towel. Cut into sticks – about your pinky size.  Put enough oil (canola or vegetable) on a non-stick pan and fry the tofu until golden and crisp. This takes a while, so don’t be hasty or flip the tofu around too often.

Avocado: Cut it in slices, about the same size as the tofu sticks.

Cilantro leaves, Chopped green onion (green parts only), and Shredded cabbage (you can get it in a bag)

I have made these rolls with boiled and sliced shrimps and some pork, like at a lot of Vietnamese restaurants, but this one is much more popular and it is vegetarian!

Sauce Ingredients:

1) Simple kind: Mae Ploy brand sweet chile sauce + some freshly squeezed lemon juice – not spicy and vegetarian.

2) Spicy kind: 4 TB Mae Ploy brand sweet chile sauce + 1 TB Vietnamese chile garlic sauce (with green cap) + 0.5 TB or more Tiparos brand fish sauce (Golden Boy brand is good, too) + 0.5 TB or more sugar + 0.5 TB or more freshly squeezed lime juice. Mix well and taste – then put some more sugar, fish sauce, or lime juice according to your taste.

How to Make:

Prepare all the ingredients/ lay them out on a large, flat surface. I use a large cutting board as the “wrapping station.”

Soak the rice paper in the hot-warm water until it is pliable. This takes some practice – so expect to ruin a few papers before you get the right consistency without tearing.

Put the paper on the cutting board/ arrange all the ingredients on the paper. (Put only one stick of tofu and avocado per one roll.) Use the front part of the rice paper, and don’t put too much. This also takes some practice. 🙂

Pull the ingredients toward you and then flip it. Fold the left and the right side to the center. Roll it to close. (See the picture)

Serve them with the sauce and enjoy!

* Don’t make these rolls too early. They can become very sticky and dry.

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!