Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Territory

My son never ceases to amaze me! A child whom I once thought might be the pickiest person on the planet has once again presented me with a challenge. For our family dinner a couple of weeks ago (I know it's been a long time since I have posted) he asked me to make Korean Food.

REALLY? Korean? You mean a cuisine that is full of VEGETABLES??Things that are green?

Honestly I have not even eaten, let alone cooked much Korean food. In fact the only thing I can think of off the top of my head is Bulgogi. So, I am being challenged to make food that I have no idea WHAT it is supposed to taste like. So I am making no claims of the authenticity or correctness of this food. I did buy most of the ingredients in an Asian market if that counts for anything. I also found Home Cooking Diary a blog written by a young Korean guy that has great (what appears to me to be) basic Korean dishes. I looked at several other sites and compared ingredients and methods and they were all pretty similar but I there was just something I liked about his. So I pulled some ingredients from other recipes I found but I really used his site as my guide. I am sad to say though it looks as though he has stopped posting (nothing new since October) but what he has gives me a good base of Korean Dishes.

Have you ever been in an Asian market? I find them a bit intimidating. Maybe it's just having no idea what the vast majority of the products are . A situation that I am not used too since I pride myself in having a pretty good base of knowledge when it comes to food and cooking.

Maybe it's the pungent smells that though I know will produce the tastiest of dishes, are a bit overwhelming all together and in such large quantities.

Then there are the employees. They scare me. They make me feel like I don't belong there. When I ask questions the barriers of language and accent make it difficult to know for sure if they understand what I am asking and more importantly do I understand what they are telling me. Before anyone gets offended or thinks I am stereo-typing let me stop and add something here. I realize that this is my own perception and insecurity. It has much to do with a lack of understanding of their culture.

I am aware of this because in high school my best friend was Chineese and Philipino. The first time I went to her home I was petrified. To me every conversation (they spoke mostly Chinese) that went on between her family members sounded like they were fighting. After a few times of visiting and me asking her if her Mom hated me or was she in trouble for something I realized that their tone was just different. Even after I understood that her family liked me and her Mom would cook things just for me because I liked them it still was hard to believe they were not mad or when they were talking.

So, anyway back to the food. I made a feast of Korean food. A weeknight family dinner turned into a impromptu dinner party when I realized I was going to have a TON of food and I asked my daughter to invite a couple of friends. Everyone liked something and somethings were not liked by all.

Probably my daughter liked the least of it because a lot was spicy. But I made some bulgogi just for her. My Son was very pleased and tried everything and even liked some things that were green. One of my daughters friends has a Korean girlfriend and gave me a thumbs up on authenticity. Maybe he was just being polite but I will take it!

The title picture today is the basic spices and condiments that seem to be essential in Korean cooking.The red pepper paste being the #1 thing that was in almost all of the dishes. This was a bit of a pricey adventure because I did not have the majority of ingredients required. But now I do and next time it will be much more affordable.

I am going to leave you with just one simple recipe today and save more for the next post (and I will try to make that VERY soon). This was the sleeper that I did not expect to be so good. This is a banchan which in Korean is a side dish. You serve it as a community bowl and each person takes some and puts it over steamed rice. Though I think its great eaten by itself and love to just snack on it.

I actually bought it premade the day before I made this dinner and it was so good that I ate most of it that night. I had planned to go back and buy more for the dinner but then I found the recipe and it was so easy that I couldn't justify not making it myself.

Spicy Dried Squid

1 1/2 Tbs Red Pepper Paste

1Tbs Corn syrup

1/2 tsp finely minced or grated garlic

1Tbs sesame oil

1 cup packed frozen dried squid (see note)

1 Tbs sesame seeds

Mix first 4 ingredients together in a small bowl set aside. Rinse and drain squid. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large frying pan. Add Squid and stir-fry for 2 mins. Mix in sauce and stir fry 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve over steamed white rice.

Notes: You can also use shelf stable dried squid.

TEASER!!! Tune in next time for this


Dragon said...

What a great adventure!

Kevin said...

I really like Korean food though I have yet to try spicy dried squid

to2sassy said...

You should try it. It is so easy to make! I have realized though you do have to be in the mood for it. It has a very strong/distinct taste. Also I would not plan on kissing anyone afterwards!

mina said...

i'm korean and i gotta say it looks pretty authentic! and thanks for the asparagus tip, i'll try it with the next batch. seems like roasting brings out the best in veg... (:

to2sassy said...

Thanks Mina! I will definately be perusing your site for some more authentic recipes!