비빔밥 (Bibimbap)

Posted: 2011/08/29 in Korean, pork

Bibimbap is not exactly what I would call a glamorous or time intensive dish. When I’m lazy, which is often, I upend the contents of my fridge onto a steaming bowl of rice, fry an egg, add some gochujang and everything is good to go.

But right before graduation UCity Grill added spicy pork belly to their menu only to further cut down their portion sizes =.= Oh well. From the bit I stole from Arisu I was fairly impressed so I decided to make it for myself. And why not make it the star of the meal by putting it into bibimbap? Sounds promising on paper but I probably should have thought this through a bit more.

First off I had the brilliant idea to buy a whole chunk of uncut pork belly with the rind still on. Since I don’t currently own a meat cleaver or even a knife with decent cutting edge it was a rather eventful hour while I tried to hack away at this hunk of meat. I even froze it so that it would be easier to cut, but by the time I had finished butchering everything it was a melted squishy mess. Gone were the thin evenly pork belly slices I had envisioned, instead I was left with irregular chunks sans the ridiculously rubbery skin. The rind proved impervious to my pathetic knife so I just chucked it. Sooo not worth the effort. I should have just bought pork shoulder and been done with it. Stupid.

Then I realized my sad excuse for a pantry did not have half the spices and sauces that I needed. No sugar, no honey, no garlic, no sesame oil, no rice vinegar. Good thing i had sake and gochujang…. epic fail.

After another quick trip to the asian market I had everything I needed, finally. At least everything after this went rather swimmingly…

숙주나물 (Seasoned Bean Sprouts)
1 lb washed and cleaned bean sprouts
1 stalk of thinly sliced green onions
minced garlic
sesame oil
white pepper

1. In a covered pot of water bring the bean sprouts to a boil with a pinch of salt
2. Once the water begins boiling turn off the heat and just let the bean sprouts steam for ~5min. Longer if you like them mushy.
3. Rinse with cold water and squeeze out all the excess water
4. Mix in the green onion and spices to taste

Pickled Daikon & Carrots
1 lb matchstick cut daikon
0.5 lb matchstick cut carrots
0.1 lb thinly sliced korean sweet peppers (optional)
1 cup rice vinegar
0.25 cup sugar (add more for a less acidic or more sweet pickle)

1. Liberally salt both daikon and carrots in separate bowls. It takes longer for carrots to take in flavor and release water so its best to keep the daikon and carrots separate for now.
2. Once the vegetables have released a large majority of their water content and look floppy/wilted, rinse off the salt rub and squeeze out excess water.
3. In a separate bowl combine the rice vinegar and sugar, making sure all the sugar has dissolved.
4. Combine with daikon, carrots, and peppers
5. Let it sit overnight before serving

시금치나물 (Seasoned Spinach)
1 lb cleaned and washed spinach
minced garlic
sesame oil
soy sauce

1. In a pot of salted boiling water quickly blanch the spinach
2. Squeeze out excess water
3. Season with garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil to taste

표고버섯 (Sautéed Mushrooms)
1 lb sliced mushrooms (shiitake works best but I didn’t have enough so I substituted with baby bella)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp gochujang
1 tbsp sugar
sesame oil

1. Heat up some sesame oil in a hot frying pan and then add soy sauce and mushrooms
2. Stir fry until most of the soy sauce and sesame oil has been absorbed by the mushrooms and then add sugar and gochujang.
3. Cooked until the sugar caramelizes and all the liquids are gone.

Spicy Pork Belly
2 lbs thinly sliced pork belly with rind (=.= what I was unable to get)
1 stalk long thinly sliced green onions
3 cloves of sliced garlic
2 thinly sliced serrano peppers (optional)
0.25 cup mashed mango (optional)
0.25 cup honey
0.25 cup sake
0.25 cup gochujang

1. Mix everything together and let it marinate overnight
2. In a hot frying pan, pan fry pork belly till cooked through

Doctored Bibimbap Sauce
0.5 cup gochujang
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp sake
1 tbsp sesame oil

1. Mix everything together and serve

비빔밥 (Bibimbap)
bean sprouts
pickled daikon & carrots
spicy pork belly
bibimbap sauce
egg over easy

1. Put everything on top the rice, mix, and enjoy

Whenever I eat bánh mì I find that one is generally not enough. The pickled daikon & carrots, fresh cilantro, and crunchy jalapenos are what make a bánh mì. If it weren’t for those veggie toppings it would just be another pedestrian sandwich. The only thing that I’ve found to be rather hit and miss with these sandwiches is the rice flour baguette. It may be advertised as lighter and crispier than its french baguette counterpart but I’ve determined that its just code for dry and hard. A good old french baguette that’s not too hard and gummy does the trick just fine.

Generally when I make a bánh mì I just go to the local asian market and get a random tube of mystery meat and pate. Deli meat from grocery store is just not the same, must be all that MSG. But this time around I decided to make meatballs to change it up a bit and because I wanted a hot sandwich. These aren’t really legit vietnamese meatballs because there is no fish sauce in sight, and apparently it can’t be viet without fish sauce. But really what am I suppose to do with 1L of fish sauce after I make these meatballs? Exactly. Nothing. The color was also kind of off because I didn’t have coco caramel syrup, so they weren’t as dark as they should have been. I also just started throwing random shit into the meat because I didn’t really know what was suppose to be in it and I couldn’t really find a decent recipe. Whatever.

Its a bastardized sandwich but as Val puts it “panda express orange chicken tastes pretty damn good too”.

Bastardized Bánh Mì Xíu Mại
french baguette
pickled daikon & carrots
sliced cucumbers
sliced jalapenos
kewpie mayo

1. Split the baguette down the side and hollow out a bit of the inside. This makes it easier to keep all the filling inside the sandwich.
2. Spread on some mayo and pile everything else onto the sandwich.

Garbage Xíu Mại
2 lbs ground pork
5 finely minced garlic cloves
1 tbsp white pepper
1 tsp black pepper
4 finely diced shiitake mushrooms
1 cup finely diced wood ear fungus
1 stalk finely diced green onions
0.25 cup finely diced yellow onions
0.5 cup sake
3 tbsp corn starch
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp hondashi
2 large eggs
soy sauce

1. Whip the pork with sake and oil. This gives the meatball a lighter texture.
2. Combine everything else with the pork and let it chill for an hour or two.
3. Divide the meat mixture and form patties/balls/links
3. In a hot oiled pan or grill, cook until golden brown.

蛋撻 (Egg Tarts)

Posted: 2011/08/17 in dessert, egg

Old recipe. Old pics. But I figured I should probably update my blog so here is something to take up space.

Egg tarts are probably one of the few things I can bake with any degree of success on a regular basis. Baking is just too exacting though arisu may beg to differ. It probably helps that this recipe so few ingredients and the dough is hard to screw up, hence its my semi “fail-proof” egg tart recipe.  You can also add things into the custard into the custard to make it fancy like matcha or caramel if you so choose. Just make sure to adjust the amount of sugar accordingly or else it will be too sweet and one icky mess.

Egg Tarts
1 cup AP flour
1 stick softened unsalted butter
8/3 oz softened cream cheese
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk (the higher the cream content the richer the custard will be)
0.5 cup sugar (I usually add less than this ~1/3 cup but then again I like things less sweet)

1. Cream the cream cheese and butter together (ie. mix very well)
2. Mix in the flour and make sure flour and fat are incorporated
3. Divide the dough into 12 portions and shape/make tart shells in a muffin tin
4. In a separate bowl whisk the egg, milk and sugar
5. Pass the egg mixture thru a fine mesh sieve if you want to get rid of the random egg chunks and get a smoother consistency. Avoid making bubbles though.
6. Pour the egg mixture into the tart shells till they are ~80-90% filled
7. Bake at 325F for 20-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

Yum. I love fresh chunky salsas, but all the cutting and dicing makes it super prohibitive to make at least for a lazy bum like me. I would buy the canned stuff, but well it tastes … canned, its just not the same. Sigh. Thus I’m forced to make my own. Generally when I do make salsas they’ve been pretty good, though there have been a few notable exceptions… but thats beside the point. I just got myself a new Tatung steam cooker (if you don’t know what it is click here or visit some traditional Taiwanese persons house) and I wanted to test out its steaming capabilities. I had a bunch of Tilapia fillets in the freezer so I just took one out and plopped it on a plate to steam. Tossed together a fruity salsa and presto dinner was done. This probably would have tasted better in taco form, but alas no tortillas or tortilla chips.

Steamed Cayenne Rubbed Tilapia
1 tilapia fillet
cayenne powder
red pepper flakes
black pepper

1. Rub the spices all over the front and back of the Tilapia
2. Steam the Tilapia till cooked through

Mango, Corn & Plum Salsa
1 diced large ripe mango
1 cup cooked corn kernels
1 diced small black plum

1. Toss everything together and season to taste

wow. I am totally inept at taking pictures. Dun worry, I will work on it. Mebbe. So, green onion chicken. This was a case of rapidly rotting green onions in the frig, like 6 whole bunches of them, and the inbred need for me not to waste it. I think this green onion sauce is something that you can use for many other dishes (ie. steak sauce, salad dressing, seafood, pancake topping?? the last ones kinda iffy, but you get the picture it’s a versatile sauce.)

For me nothing is worse than a dry chicken. Getting rotissierie (especially at school) is like playing roulette, I always get a side of barbeque sauce or gravy because 95% of the time its like eating cardboard. But the 5% of the time that its moist and juicy makes it worth all the guesswork.

Through all my cooking escapades I have determined that the easiest way to make sure that your chicken stays moist is to either steam it or boil it. The only unfortunate thing about these cooking methods is that the skin becomes all soggy and it just doesn’t taste the same as a roasted or pan seared chicken. But whatever, it still tastes fine. So this is another family recipe with my little twists to it.

Green Onion Sauce
6 bundles (or 30 stalks) thinly sliced green onion
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
2 cups canola oil (if not canola oil, choose another neutral oil)
chicken bouillon
dashi powder
white pepper
black pepper
grated ginger

1. Make sure the green onions and cilantro are mostly dry before you start putting the sauce together
2. Mix all the ingredients together except for the oil. the spices are added to taste (not all of them are necessary, but you have to add salt)
3. Slowly stir in the oil as you mix, you may or may not use up all oil (the amount of oil needed depends on how much green onion you actually get and how wet it is). stop when all the green onions have been throughly coated and are just starting to swim in the oil.
4. Let it sit for ~1-2 hours before serving

Boiled Chicken
6 chicken thighs (you can use other cuts of chicken just make sure you adjust the cooking time accordingly)
chicken bouillon

1. Just cover the chicken thighs with water in a large stock pot and let it simmer
2. Add salt and chicken bouillon to the water (you don’t want to cook out all the flavor of the chicken or else it just taste bland)
3. Just let it simmer until cooked through
4. Take out the chicken thighs and serve with green onion sauce
5. The chicken stock can reserved for other uses

Strawberry Disaster

Posted: 2011/06/07 in dessert, fruit, Japanese, pork

So we went to a real gourmet ranch (facebook game) and did some strawberry picking. Had some frozen custard and awesome Irish Soda Bread ( I never realized how good this stuff was, mebbe it was a fluke, but the one I had on the farm was definitely worth getting again).  Then we came back and took a nap, cuz you know picking/eating strawberries is really hard work.  But anyways we decided to make something with the crap ton of strawberries we picked (-.- apparently to some people fresh strawberries cannot be eaten as is. its gotta be macerated and drowned in sugar). Lulled by a false sense of accomplishment by our string of cooking successes we decided to make strawberry tarts and strawberry mochi. Dumb idea. Individually the components of the tart were ok, together they were a disaster. The shell had a vaguely salty undertones, which totally did not fit with the sweetness of the custard or strawberries.

The mochi. OMG the mochi. (1) Cooking with dog made it look so bleeding simple (If you don’t know what cooking with dog is youtube it) (2) Val cannot be trusted to do anything in the kitchen without screwing it up (3) F*** mochi is hard to wrap. After the billionth try and several third degree burns later we finally got the mochi to the right consistency and taste. Then we tried to wrap the mochi around red bean paste and strawberries. Not only did the mochi not close , it was all lumpy and ugly. humph.

Moral of the story make pot pie and strawberries with custard. Everyone is happy, everything tastes good, and the cleanup is so much easier.

One of the coolest yet nastiest things ever. Shaved butter.

Stupid mochi.

Looks are so deceiving.

What we ended up actually eating.

Pork Pot Pie Filling
Serves: 4
1 lb diced pork shoulder
1 lb defrosted frozen vegetable mix (I was lazy and did not feel like cutting anything)
black pepper
chicken bouillon
Italian seasoning
2 tbsp corn starch
0.25 cup water
1. Sauté the pork in a bit of oil until approximately half cooked
2. Toss in the veggie mix and continue sautéing
3. Mix in black pepper, chicken bouillon and italian seasoning to taste
4. Mix the corn starch and water to get a thin slurry mixture in a separate cup
5. When the pork has been throughly cooked pour in the slurry and immediately stir
6. The entire thing should begin to thicken up. Continue stirring until most of the water has cooked off.

Strawberry Tart Shell
Serves: 6
Adapted from ??
Ingredients: ??
Directions: ??
Ask Alice if you really care.

Custard Filling
Serves: 6
Adapted from Køkken69
6 egg yolks
1.5 cup milk
0.25 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp butter
splash of vanilla extract
1. Cook milk, sugar, butter, and vanilla in a pot until just boiled
2. Turn the heat down low and whisk in the egg yolks
3. Continue whisking so the eggs do not scramble while cooking the custard at a low simmer
4. Simmer for about 15-20min until the mixture has thicken up a bit (it will still be a little runny)
5. Cool down and refrigerate until needed

イチゴ大福 (Strawberry Mochi)
Serves: ??
0.5 lb glutinous rice flour
2 cups cold water
1 tbsp of sugar
fresh strawberries
red bean paste
1. Mix the rice flour, water and sugar in a microwavable bowl till smooth (it should be fairly runny. add more water if its not)
2. Cover the bowl and microwave on high for approx 2 min
3. Stir the mochi and continue heating in increments of 60 sec until the mochi is slightly transparent and elastic
4. Let the mochi cool slightly, but not too much
5. Dust a board with powdered sugar and corn starch
6. Portion out the dough into little balls and roll them out
7. Stuff with red bean paste and a strawberry and then ball it up

お好み焼き (Okonomiyaki)

Posted: 2011/05/28 in Japanese

After hearing Emmie gush about this stuff for ages I though it was time I finally tried some of it. If I had a choice I probably would have gone to a restaurant, but St. Louis being what it is (ie. barren of any really good asian food) meant that really wasn’t an option. Thus began the massive google-ing and this is what I came up with. Everything but the kitchen sink. Authentic? Mebbe. Tasty? Mhm.

お好み焼き (Okonomiyaki)
Serves 2 (These things are huge!)

0.75 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp hondashi (Bonito fish stock powder)
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
0.75 cup water
1 egg
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
0.25 cup finely sliced carrots
0.25 cup pickled mustard
3 strips of bacon
0.25 cup finely sliced green onions
black & white pepper to taste

bonito flakes
Kewpie Mayo (The Japanese stuff is way better than the American stuff any day)
Okonomiyaki Sauce
shredded nori (roasted seaweed)

1. Mix flour, spices (pepper, hondashi, bouillon), corn starch, baking powder, egg, water until you get a batter-like substance. Try not to overmix because gluten will start forming and the okonomiyaki will taste tougher.
2. Dump all the veggies into the batter and lightly toss until everything is coated
3. Heat up a non-stick pan and fry up the bacon
4. When the bacon is cooked through on one side, flip them over and pour the veggie batter over it. You will have to flatten the mountain of cabbage into a pancake or else it will never finish cooking.
5. Cook the okonomiyaki for ~20min, flipping occasionally to get a nice golden crispy layer on both sides
6. Serve drizzled with kewpie mayo, okonomiyaki sauce, nori, and bonito flakes. (For those too lazy or too poor to afford okonomiyaki sauce an easy fix is worcestershire:ketchup:mirin:honey 4:4:2:1)