Wednesday, August 18, 2010

RECIPE: Jap Chae

I recently made a dinner for HYKC's contest winner, Amelia, and DC's finest last night.  On the menu was Jap Chae (Korean's version of stir fried noodles) and a "Ssam Bar" (assorted meats wrapped in lettuces).  It was my first time making Jap Chae, which in hindsight, was a risky choice for a dinner party dish.  But I've stuffed my face full of it so many times I was confident I could pull it off.  I at least knew what it was supposed to taste like. Which is always an advantage in the kitchen.  This is true for much of the Korean cuisine that has inspired me to cook.  I grew up with these flavors, I know them as well as you may know a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or meatloaf (which I didn't experience until I was like, 12 years old).  So it only makes sense that as of late I've been cooking a lot of it lately.  It is my comfort food.

Jap Chae

1 lb of Korean Starch Noodles (vermicelli).  Amelia says it looks like grey witch's hair. I concur.
1 bunch of spinach
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 carrot, julienned
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 bunch of scallions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup of dried shitake mushrooms that have been soaked according to the package
1 box of white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb of thinly sliced beef (ribeye, round, whatever).  Optional.
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of sugar
Grapeseed oil
A few good glugs of sesame oil and soy sauce
Plenty of cracked black pepper

Cook noodles according to package in a large pot...probably 10 minutes or so.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl, reserving the boiling hot water in the pot.  Toss the noodles generously with sesame oil and soy sauce.  Cut the noodles in half with kitchen shears as the noodle strands come as one and need to be cut in half to be separated.   Keep the pot and reserved liquid with the heat on the stove.  Place the spinach inside and cover.  Remove the spinach when it's wilted down and cooked through.  Drain well and wring out excess water with a clean, dry kitchen towel.  Chop into one inch pieces and throw into the noodle bowl.

In a large skillet, heat up a small amount of grapeseed oil or any other neutral tasting oil.  Sauté each of the ingredients separately, removing each group as they finish and putting it into the bowl with the noodles: onion, scallions, red pepper, carrots, white mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, beef.  This is to ensure the lighter colored veggies to no have any discoloration.

Toss all of the sauteed veggies with the noodles, sesame seeds and add the sugar.  Mix in the cracked black pepper...a few good grinds should do you good.  Add sesame oil and soy sauce to taste.  I ended up using about 3-4 tablespoons of sesame oil and about a fourth a cup of soy sauce (yeah, salty, but so good).  Drink plenty of water and have a low salt day tomorrow...that's how I justify it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

RECIPE: Korean Taco..takes 1 and 2 with Sriracha Sour Cream

What the DMV (DC, Maryland Va...I know, I hate that term too, but it's so tempting) area needs is a Korean Taco Truck.  I might not be starting one anytime soon, but that doesn't mean I can't experiment in my own kitchen.  Going beyond the kimchee quesadilla,  I decided to give the Korean Taco a try.  Without a recipe in hand and no trip to the Asian food market (I believe anything is possible after a shopping trip there) I improvised with what I had on hand.  Therefore, I believe this recipe has huge room for improvement.  I have two versions below: one on a traditional warmed corn tortilla, and the other on a sesame leaf (from my neighbor's garden!).  The beef is a riff on the traditional Kalbi (Korean BBQ) but this will work for now.  Stay tuned for Take 3.



RECIPE: Korean Taco (takes 1 and 2) with Sriracha Sour Cream
Serves 4

Beef:  (See Note below)
1 lb of top round thin sliced, then sliced again into bite sized one inch pieces (sirloin, ribeye, or tenderloin can be subbed)
1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
1-2TB of toasted sesame oil
1 TB low sodium tamari soy sauce
1 TB brown sugar
1/2 TB sesame seeds
Lots of cracked black pepper

Sriracha Sour Cream:
2 TB Light Sour Cream
1 tsp (or more if you dare) Sriracha

Wrap it up:
1 cup Kimchee, diced
Few sprigs of cilantro
Corn tortillas (warm according to directions)
Sesame leaves (can be found in Asian food markets)

The Beef
Preheat a grill pan on medium high.  Whisk together onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper and sugar.  Toss together with beef pieces.  Sear on the hot grill pan, about five minutes should do the trick.  Since it's thin sliced, the beef will cook quickly.

The Sour Cream
Mix sour cream and sriracha.  That was easy. Not my most creative moment, but it works.

Assemble and enjoy!

Note:  In the beef marinade try adding sliced scallions and pureed Asian pear.  Decrease the sugar by half and marinate over night.  I didn't have time to get to the Asian food market so this part of the recipe was omitted.  My mother used pureed Asian pear in her helps tenderize tougher cuts of meat.  Also add a 1/4 cup of cooking wine to the marinate.