|Me, Lori, and DOPT's Cifuentes girls, Lisa and Karina (far right)|
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.
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.
|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!