Guest Post: Youjin's Korean Cooking Night!

Me, Lori, and DOPT's Cifuentes girls, Lisa and Karina (far right)
Written by: Youjin Kim

My dad loves to tell this story about how I came home from dinner at a friend’s place when I was young and said I felt bad for my friends – compared to a typical Korean meal, the meat and potatoes I (probably) had was so simple and bland (this was in Columbus, Ohio). On the other hand, even the most simple Korean meal involves many different components (and therefore, ingredients) - rice, a soup or stew, a protein dish (meat or fish,) and a few different kinds of banchan (side dishes – often vegetables) and of course, kimchi. 

Sounds like a lot of work for every meal, right? Okay, that is probably what most families have in Korea but even as a single person like me living thousands of miles from Korea, my Korean meals must absolutely include rice, kimchi, and a soup.

Fortunately, you just need a few basic ingredients for seasoning almost everything – soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and garlic (and sometimes vinegar and alcohol/ wine/ mirin.) Soups require a meat, anchovies or soy bean paste for the base.
So, voila. Read on for the full Dreaming of Palm Trees Korean Dinner post!

1.            Bulgogi – marinade beef (most recipes say thinly sliced top sirloin or flank steak but we used pretty thick cuts of hanger steak but it was still delicious!) in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic, sugar, chopped green onions and sesame seeds. You can also add carrots and onions for a bit of a sweeter flavor. Once cooked, I like to make bulgogi wraps by putting some rice, bulgogi, kimchi, and ssamjang in a leaf of lettuce (and/or sesame leaves). Ssamjang is a mix of the soy bean paste, red pepper paste and a handful of other spices and it literally means “wrap sauce.”
2.            Kimchi – I admit, I buy my kimchi. It’s waaayyy too much work so if I were to ever do it myself, I’d make a whole winter’s worth and bury it in the ground. Whenever people ask me if I know how to make kimchi, I always half-jokingly tell them that my mom will probably teach me when I get married.
3.            Danmuji (sweet radish pickle) – I drizzled some sesame oil and sesame seeds on these pickled radish that can be found in any Korean or Japanese grocery store.
4.            King Mushroom – these babies are expensive but delicious! You can find them at some non-Korean grocery stores here in New York. Just cut them up in slices and throw them in a pan with a drizzle of sesame oil.
5.            Steamed egg – these are usually made in the hot-stone bowls that you probably have seen if you’ve ordered bibimbap. It’s just a mixture of egg and water (2:1), some salt and pepper and chopped green onions. If you have a hot-stone bowl, you can put it directly over the fire. Otherwise, you can put the egg mixture in a regular bowl and steam it by putting it in a bigger pot with water in it.
6.            Spinach soup – this is one of my favorite breakfast soups since it is super easy to make and takes no time, especially since I have been getting a kind of soy bean paste that is ready-made for soups, i.e. it includes additional ingredients such as shitake mushrooms and anchovy flavors. I boil water and a spoonful of this soy bean past soup and then just add spinach until the spinach turns a brownish-green.

The spread!

Lori setup an awesome blind tasting of TJ wine!
Charlie, Karina's boyfriend, guesses the tasty TJ brand :)

Pickled radish. So good.

The cook at work.

What was in that TJ wine?

The last of the beef...

Thank you, Youjin for the awesome post and the most amazing Korean meal I've had! xoxoxo

PS. Here's a great indoor grill if you want to give Korean beef a try!


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