Sunday, October 28, 2012

Korean Beef and Kimchi Shish Kebab

These-were-fantastic. Ever shish'ed your kimchi to grill? It's brilliant. Grilled kimchi is great; the browning adds a nice dimension to the kimchi flavors, and it works great skewered along with other ingredients for your shish kebab (I still want to type kabob, though it seems spelling consensus has moved since my childhood).

Also shish'ed in the pic are Korean style marinated beef and red bell peppers. I was told they were a hit at the barbeque!

The three different flavors played very well together, in my opinion--the savory beef, spicy/sour kimchi, and sweet bell peppers.

Long marination (ended up being 20 hours for the beef this time, since I'd prepped them the evening before) leads to more tender meat. However, you don't actually need kiwi or Asian pear purée--both popular options in kalbi recipes--to tenderize your beef here. As Harold McGee notes (in On Food and Cooking), the enzymes in these fruits penetrate into meat very slowly, so that most of the action only happens on the surface, leading to a mealy surface texture (if you're up for it, he suggests injecting into the meat if you want better tenderizer distribution). So with a long marinating time, you can probably leave your fruit purée out of the equation; the salt in the soy sauce and gochujang will do its job.

Here's my recipe:

Korean Beef and Kimchi Shish Kebab

1 lb beef sirloin steak (or other grilling cut), 1-inch-cubed

1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1 TBS rice wine
1 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS honey
1 heaping TBS gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp ground perilla seeds [optional]
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS ginger, minced
1-2 green onions, finely chopped

2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch squares
1.5-2 cups kimchi

bamboo or metal skewers (flat ones are more stable and easier to flip, whereas round ones may just turn independent of the food)
  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a large sealable container or ziplock bag and hand-mix in the beef cubes to ensure all meat surfaces are exposed. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight; basically, the longer the better.
  2. Popular wisdom has it that before preparing skewers, one should soak bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes to avoid burning and splintering skewers. Some experts note that bamboo skewers will burn and split regardless when cooking over high heat, though.
  3. Alternating bell pepper, beef, and kimchi, thread the food onto the skewers. Bunch up several layers of (cabbage) kimchi together for bite sizes. With larger leaves, fold them up before skewering so they stay in a “package”.
  4. Grill over high heat until meat is done, about 4 minutes per side (~8 minutes total). Alternatively, if you don’t have a grill, you can trim your bamboo skewers to cook the kebabs in a skillet, or broil or bake them in an oven.

Wonk-note: The perilla seeds weren't too apparent in the flavor of the beef. I think maybe their flavor comes out better in long simmering. Generally they're used for spicy Korean stews and soups.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Brown Rice Tea

I recently wrote briefly about toasting brown rice for use in genmaicha, which is a tea of toasted brown rice mixed with green tea. Well, I like to steep just the toasted brown rice by itself, as well; it's like barley tea...but with brown rice instead. I don't add sugar or anything--just straight up toasted brown rice. It makes the water feel smoother and imparts a subtle sweet flavor to the water.

I'm very sensitive to caffeine, and don't need it to get up in the morning, so I don't drink much caffeinated drinks. When I want a warm drink, I have a fair amount of just warm-hot water or herbal or decaffeinated teas. But sometimes I want something with a hint of flavor, but not so much as a tea, and this fills in that niche perfectly. Give it a shot!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Savory Oatmeal: Soy Nuts 'n' Seaweed

I love me some savory oatmeal. Pictured above is another great variation of this simple, flexible concept: savory oatmeal with wakame seaweed and soy nuts.

Dried wakame is very convenient to have in your pantry, as you can just toss it into a soup or other soupy dish (like this oatmeal) in the last minutes of cooking and add a punch of savory flavor and vegetation to your dish.

As for soy nuts, I found out about them a month or two ago and really glommed on to them. Since I can't have tree nuts or peanuts, these are a really great substitute in that they keep well and have a great crunch and nutty flavor--and are a complete protein to boot. You can roast them yourself or, lucky me, one of my local grocery stores, Shoppers, sells unbranded packs of roasted salted soy nuts for much cheaper than similar brand-named products you can buy online. I do have raw, dried soy beans, though, for making my own; next batch will be wasabi powdered roasted salted soy nuts!

Anyway, this savory oatmeal is a great simple and healthy meal any time of day.

Savory Oatmeal with Soy Nuts and Wakame Seaweed
Makes 1 serving

1/2 cup (50 grams) rolled (old fashioned) oats
1 cup water
1/4 cup soymilk

1 tsp soy sauce
small handful of dried, pre-cut wakame seaweed

small handful of soy nuts
  1. Bring water to boil in a small saucepan. Add oats and reduce to medium heat. Simmer 3 minutes, until water has reduced and oats are starting to thicken.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and add soymilk and wakame, stirring for another 1 minute.
  3. Add soy sauce and stir another minute or until seaweed has expanded and is tender.
  4. Pour oatmeal into a bowl, garnish with soy nuts, and enjoy.

[edit: I reduced the amounts in the recipe as I've found that 3/4 cups rolled oats is indeed a large portion, and that 1/2 cup is about right for one person.]

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Peach Crisp Plum Crisp


A while back, Marc Matsumoto from NoRecipes had a post on strawberry crisp over at his page on PBS's website. Sweet, a gluten-free dessert! And the butter is easily subbed out for Earth Balance or other non-dairy butter substitute.

At the time I was getting various summer fruits from my CSA (yes, I made this a while ago) and went ahead and tried making plum crisp first and then peach crisp. Well, you see, with the plum crisp I followed Matsumoto's recipe more closely, with the grinding of the oats. Buuut it didn't turn out so great.

I mean it tasted great, of course, but the topping definitely was more mushy and not crisp. I'm not sure why. Maybe pulsing the oats in the food processor caused it to absorb the fat/oil more since it was chopped up. Another problem was that I used way too big a dish for the crisp. I thought it might hold together somewhat and didn't have an appropriately sized dish, but ultimately it kinda spread out as it baked.

In any case, for the peach crisp, I cut the Earth Balance and other topping ingredients together with knives instead of pulsing in a food processor to keep the oats intact. This worked much better for me, resulting in a crisp oat topping (see photo at top).

Here's my personally portioned recipe:

Peach Crisp, Personal Portion

1 medium peach, cored and diced
squeeze of lemon juice (to taste)
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp potato starch

pinch of salt
1 tsp brown sugar
2 TBS rolled (old fashioned) oats
1 tsp maple syrup (preferably grade B or dark amber)
1.5 tsp cold Earth Balance (or unsalted butter)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a ramekin, custard cup, or other small, oven-safe dish, toss diced peach with lemon juice, sugar, and potato starch. Set aside for an hour to draw out some of the juices from the fruit. 
  3. In a small bowl mix the oatmeal, maple syrup, and Earth Balance, sugar, and salt together using two knives and cutting the Earth Balance into the mixture until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  4. Spread the oat topping evenly over the peach, out to the edges of the dish.
  5. Put the dish on a baking sheet to contain spills and place it in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and crispy and the peach underneath is bubbling up through the cracks in the crisp.

 Cored and halved mini plums, tossed with sugar, starch, and lemon juice. I know, not strictly a necessary pic for this post, but I thought they looked neat, and also whatevs.

I've been thinking (woah now, best be careful) lately that I might have to change the name of this blog. You see, it started out as a blog for chronicling my, well, escapades in cooking(ery) as someone pretty inexperienced; my attempts were escapades in the sense of my making uncoached attempts to follow interesting recipes, and anticipating likely doing things loosely and incorrectly. I was kind of making forays into the unknown (to me) land of food preparation.

However, at this point, I've developed my skills and knowledge a fair amount. The feeling of being a blundering idiot in the wilderness is mostly gone (which is not to say I don't have a ton still to learn, as with everything). Lately, with my time constraints and with my CSA set produce (though it's soon to end for the year), I've done a lot of improvising, and been doing fairly well with it. Nothing really refined, but generally tasty.

Anyway, all this just to explain why I'm feeling like I might have to change the name and do a redesign sometime. Wonder how that'd work out. And there's the problem of all the old posts and linking. Maybe I'll start blogging my improvisations more, too, though again, they're not too refined.