Category Archives: Korea

Kimchi dumplings

This will be the last kimchi-related post, I still have a jar-full but it keeps getting more sour, and I just don’t have the tolerance of a native Korean!

The filling of these dumplings is made of tofu and kimchi with a few other ingredients.

filling

You can put just about any filling inside dumpling wrappers. The biggest trick is not to stuff it too full. Then wipe a little bit of water on the edges before you press the edges together.

dumpling

I’ve recently used more of the round dumpling wrappers, so I had to remember how to fold the square ones. You could just do a simple triangle or rectangle by pressing the edges directly together. Or you could get a little more fancy, as is shown on the wonton/dumpling package.

dumpling formed

Then just steam them, fry them in oil, or freeze them for later!

Kimchi Dumpling Filling
14-16 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu
1 cup kimchi
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 green onions, or similar amount of Chinese chives, minced
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sesame oil
dumpling wrappers

Drain the tofu and press out additional liquid. It’s important to have a dry filling for dumplings so that they won’t leak out. Crumble the tofu into a bowl.

Drain some kimchi as well and squeeze out extra liquid. Chop really small and add a packed cup-full to the tofu. Mix in the rest of the ingredients except the dumpling wrappers.

Fold the filling into the wrappers, and cook as shown above.

Adapted from: Eating Korean, by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

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Kimchi Pancakes (Kimchijeon)

It looks like I’m going to have a couple more kimchi-related posts until I can use up all the kimchi that I made!  Tonight’s supper was kimchi pancakes.

I found a couple of different recipes, one with a stiffer flour and water batter and one with added egg, one with just kimchi and one with shredded potatoes added. I didn’t have a potato in my pantry, but I did have a sweet potato. So I decided to use that instead, and it turned out to be a good combination – with the sweet of the potato balancing out the hot and sour kimchi. Here’s the hybrid recipe;

Kimchi and Sweet Potato Pancakes
4 oz. kimchi, chopped
1 cup shredded sweet potato
1 egg
2/3 c. flour
1/2 c. water
vegetable oil for frying

Shred sweet potatoes, and finely chop the kimchi.

sweetpotato

kimchi

Whisk together the egg, water and flour until you have a smooth, thin batter.

eggbatter

Stir in the kimchi and potatoes.

batter

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan, then spread the pancake batter about 1/4-inch thin. Fry until golden brown on both sides, slowly to allow the sweet potato to cook within the pancake. Continue to cook the remaining batter, adding more vegetable oil as needed.  Makes about three pancakes, 6 inches in diameter.

pancakes

I ate the pancakes with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce, very tasty!

Jjajangmyeon – Noodles with Black Bean Sauce

Korean food contains influences from both Japanese and Chinese cooking, due to the intermingling of the nearby cultures over the years. Jjajangmyeon is a Chinese-influenced dish using black bean paste as the flavoring. Once the ingredients for this dish are chopped and measured, this is a quick stir-fry perfect for a weekday evening.

jajangmyeon ingredients

Jajangmyeon
7 oz. noodles (I used Korean wheat noodles, but you could substitute angel hair vermicelli)
1/4 c. olive oil
8 oz. pork loin, cubed
1 onion, cubed
1/2 zucchini, cubed
1/2 c. black bean paste
2 tsp. sugar or Splenda
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 c. water

Bring water to boil for the noodles while you prepare the other ingredients. Have everything ready and measured ahead of time for this stir-fry. Dissolve the sugar and cornstarch in the water, it is added as a thickener at the very end.

Cook noodles until tender (time varies depending on what type of noodle you’re using, check the package). Meanwhile, stir-fry the pork in olive oil over high heat. When the pork is cooked through and lightly browned, add onion, zucchini and black bean paste. Stir-fry until zucchini is tender, about 3-5 minutes. At the very end of cooking, add sugar, cornstarch and water and bring to a boil just until thickened.

Serve noodles topped with black bean sauce.  This makes 3 servings.

jajangmyeon

NOTE: the black bean paste is already quite salty, so you probably don’t need to add additional salt, even in the cooking water for the noodles. When I make this again, I will add some more veggies into the mix – especially sugar snap or snow peas for a little additional sweetness to balance the salty flavor.

There’s also a good video online showing you how to make jjajangmyeon (or called jjajangbap if you serve it with rice instead of noodles). I like the idea of stir-frying the vegetables first for a little bit before adding the black bean paste, and adding a bit of water at that point too, because it spattered a LOT when I added the paste into the mix.

Adapted from: Discovering Korean Cuisine: recipes from the best Korean restaurants in Los Angeles

Kimchi Jjigae – Pork and Kimchi Stew

A big bowl of Chinese hot and sour soup has always done me well when I’m suffering from a cold and have all but lost my sense of taste. So as I’ve been fighting a bad one this week, a hot and spicy Korean soup recipe was calling my name. Kimchi jjigae is a stew made mainly of kimchi, so it’s also a good way to use up some of that homemade kimchi that’s still in my fridge. Here’s a basic recipe that I compiled after looking at about 5 variations and considering my own tastes and available ingredients.

Kimchi Jjigae
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/2 lb. pork
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
3 cups kimchi, chopped with liquid
12 oz. firm tofu, cubed
2 tsp. fish sauce
4 shiitakes, fresh or dried and reconstituted, sliced
4 green onions, sliced thinly

saute pork

First, saute pork and garlic in the sesame oil, until garlic is aromatic and pork is starting to brown.

kimchi added

Next, add kimchi with it’s own liquid and about 3-4 more cups of water, enough to cover the pork. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

mushrooms etc

Add mushrooms, tofu, green onions, and fish sauce. Stir well and simmer for another 10 minutes.

finished jjigae

Now you have a hot and spicy stew. Vegetarians could easily leave out the pork and still have a great bowl of soup. It’s very simple because all of the flavor comes from the kimchi, so I can see why it is a favorite Korean dish. Definitely a tasty dish to help clear out my sinuses and warm me up on this cold winter week!

Walnut Ice Cream

Asian cuisines often have limited dessert options, so when I saw this recipe on a Korean cooking blog for walnut ice cream, I had to try it.  It probably wouldn’t be considered ‘traditional’ Korean, but any excuse for ice cream works at my house :)

The ice cream base for this is quite simple to put together, and turned out very creamy and delicious. Not a low-fat recipe for sure, it made less than 1 quart of ice cream that worked well in my smaller ice cream machine. The batch would probably serve about 4 people as a dessert on its own. Or a few more if you just add one scoop on top of a slice of homemade apricot pie, like I’ve been doing this week, yum!

walnut ice cream

The recipe was followed directly from what is posted on Aerie’s Kitchen blog, except that I didn’t bother straining any of it along the way. If you feel like your custard got lumpy, I’d definitely strain that part, but mine seemed smooth. And I rather enjoy a bit of walnutty grainy-ness in the ice cream itself, so I didn’t strain it after adding the walnuts either.

I used a small capacity Cuisinart ice cream freezer to get a really smooth texture, but there are directions in the recipe about how to make it if you don’t have an ice cream machine. I’m going to hang onto this ice cream custard base recipe – seems like it could be used for a lot of other flavors too!

Homemade Kimchi

As I mentioned in a previous post, there are over 150 cataloged different kinds of kimchi. However, the most common, traditional kimchi is the one made with Napa cabbage. Since the process is rather lengthy, the long MLK weekend seemed a good time to attempt it. I’ll share this recipe step-wise with photos.

Cabbage

Step 1 – Cut one large napa cabbage into quarters. Wash it under running water. Sprinkle between all the leafy layers with a total of 1/2 c. coarse sea salt or kosher salt. Place in a large pot or bowl and add water until just covering the cabbage. Top with something heavy to weigh down the cabbage under the liquid. Let it sit for about 8 hours or overnight.

rice paste

Step 2 – Meanwhile, make a rice paste, which is the base for the kimchi paste that flavors the kimchi. Whisk together 1/2 c. sweet rice flour (also called glutinous rice flour, available at Asian markets) with 1 c. water. Whisk continually over high heat until it just begins to thicken, then remove it from the heat, whisk until smooth, and allow to cool.

kimchi paste

Step 3 – Blend together the cooled rice paste with the following;

3/4 c. Korean red pepper flakes
1/4 c. fish sauce
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1/4 c. minced garlic
1/4 c. sugar
4 tsp. salt
3 c. water
1/4 c. minced onion

kimchi paste final

Step 4 – Into the seasoned paste, add the following;

2 oz. each mustard greens and watercress, cut into thin ribbons
1 bunch green onions, sliced into small pieces
1 daikon radish, peeled and grated

Step 5 – After 8 hours of soaking, remove the cabbage quarters from the salt water and rinse 2 or 3 times under running water to remove salt. Place in a colander to drain for at least 30 minutes. What we’re trying to do here is remove as much water from the cabbage as possible. Mine still ended up getting pretty watery as it fermented, so next time I plan to make sure the water is very salty and let it sit in the salt water for 10-12 hours.

spreading paste

Step 6 – Wearing latex gloves to protect your hands from the pepper sauce, rub the prepared kimchi sauce in between each layer of the cabbage, making sure to cover all the surfaces. A video on the Aerie’s Kitchen website does a good job of showing the process.

final kimchi

Step 7 – The first recipe that I looked at called for a 1-gallon glass jar, or 4 quart jars, but I don’t have that many glass jars. You can buy the quart size in the canning section, but then you have to purchase 12 jars at a time!  So I followed the advice of another recipe that suggested using freezer bags. I packed all four quarters into one gallon-sized freezer bag and zipped it closed, trying to remove as much of the air as possible. Then I double-bagged it just in case there was any leaking.

The recipes suggested to let the kimchi sit at room temperature for 24-36 hours to start the fermentation process. I went with 36 hours since my house is cooler right now in the winter. Then put the kimchi in the refrigerator for another week before opening it up to taste.

Adapted from: Discovering Korean Cuisine, ed. Allisa Park

Update from a few days later:  The plastic freezer bag worked ok, but still allowed the strong smell of the kimchi to permeate the kitchen. I was worried that it would affect the flavor of everything in my refrigerator, so ended up transferring it over to a smaller quart canning jar, a freezer box and a glass bowl with lid (both put into plastic bags too.  This seemed to help contain the smell.

The kimchi itself is pretty tasty though not overly spicy. Now that I know what has gone into it I appreciate it more than I did previously. I’ll be trying a couple of recipes that use kimchi as a main ingredient, and will show you more photos of the final product in that future post.

Pine Nut Salad Dressing

Pine nuts are apparently a common ingredient in Korean cooking, who knew? Just a quick salad dressing recipe today. Homemade vinaigrette salad dressings are so much more delicious than store-bought ones, and this recipe has no oil or fat added – other than the fat in the pine nuts – so it’s also very healthy.

dressing

Pine Nut Mustard Dressing
1/2 c. pine nuts
6 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. honey
1  1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. water

Blend all ingredients together. Toss with your desired salad ingredients. I kept it simple with red pepper, celery and mixed greens.

salad

I made a healthy and delicious meal with this salad and the Braised Tofu from my last post.

meal

Recipe adapted from: The Korean Table, by Chung and Samuels