Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stepping out into the Past

Korea a very interesting place it people, it's culture, so divided.  My first exposure to its diversity was quite far removed from the political venue.  Many years ago, we had so many patients that would grace out hospital.  These children, from the Gift of Life program would come from their native Korea, to the United States, and without their families, for open heart surgery.   

It was through this time I found myself down a strange road, since they did not speak English and my Korean was quite lacking.  We did find our way, some how, yes imagine it was through food.  It was an issue, some of these children always seemed to like a more salty, spicy tasting food.  This led me down a road to understand Korean food and their culture a  bit more.  I had come to find admiration and strength in these children who came so far with so little and taught me so much.

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Though the episode we witnessed may have been so far removed from my past, yet some how, some way it did trigger a memory.  Maybe when others look to their past, they look to things that shape who they are, whether it be good or bad, it somehow makes us look at aspects within ourselves.   

The paths that we take, the situations that brought us to where we are.  All roads we cross may not be pleasant, but we must cross them to get through this journey we call life, and it does make us who we are.  

Olelo Pa'a (The Promise)
There are many wounds in life that don't exactly heal, they always seem to be there just below the surface waiting for the right moment to remind us of their presence. They seem to always remain a part of us reminding us who we are, where we have been, and it is those memories we carry, we only hope we can learn  from, and make peace with that past and even with yourself.

So let's take a bit of a culinary journey, since they say food makes everything better.  Step out of the past and try something a little different, step out of the comfort zone.  Hope you enjoy.

Bulgogi (Korean Beef Barbecue) 

A popular Korean dishes, this thinly sliced meat is given a  smoky sweet flavor when broiled or cooked on the grill.


1 cup Bulgogi marinade (recipe follows)
1 lb sliced beef 

  1. Place prepared marinade aside.  
  2. Slice beef into thin, finger-length strips, beef will be easier to slice if you freeze it for 15 minutes, it will slice so much easier.  
  3. Mix marinade into meat with hands, making sure all the meat is covered.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. For tougher cuts, the more hours, the better. You can also freeze the uncooked marinated beef in small amounts for later use.
  5. Grill, broil, or stir fry the beef until well-done and carmelized on the outside.  
  6. Serve beef with rice, lettuce leaves, and side dishes.
Of note: Top sirloin or tenderloin will work better, but any cut 
will do.  

Bulgogi Marinade  (Korean Meat Marinade)

3 Tbsp garlic, chopped 
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed juice from an Asian pear
1 Tbsp Japanese rice wine (mirin)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
3 green onions, finely chopped (including white part)
1 tsp pepper

  1. Mix marinade together until sugar and honey are dissolved/distributed.
  2. Can be stored in refrigerator or freezer for use on beef, pork, and chicken.

Korean Chicken Thigh Sliders

4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-1/2 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and grated 
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp Sriracha chili sauce
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp sesame oil
3 Tbsp agave syrup or honey
12  boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
Canola oil, for drizzling
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
12  slider rolls
1/2 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
Quick Kimchi Slaw

  1. Heat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Combine garlic, ginger, soy, chile sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and honey or syrup in a blender.
  3. Season meat with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little oil. Place on grill and cook a couple of minutes on each side to mark, then baste heavily with sauce and cook 3-4 minutes more, turning and basting frequently.
  4. Sprinkle chicken pieces with scallions and sesame seeds, and serve on slider rolls topped with cucumber slices and slaw.

Quick Kimchi Slaw

1/2 Napa cabbage, shredded
1 small red onion, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced
2 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1-2 Tbsp sliced pickled ginger, thinly sliced
1 red chili pepper, very thinly sliced
3/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

  1. Combine the cabbage, onion, garlic, pickled ginger and pepper in small container with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Heat vinegar with hot sauce, water and sugar to dissolve the sugar. Pour over cabbage, cover and shake. Refrigerate a couple of hours, shaking the container occasionally.

 Daeji Bulgogi (Spicy Korean Pork)

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Daeji Bulgogi is made of thinly sliced pork which is marinated in a spicy chili pepper sauce and can  either grilled or pan-fried.

2 lb pork, (preferably pork butt, may use leaner pork loin)
1 cup Korean pork marinade (recipe to follow)
  1. Slice pork into very thin pieces, about the thickness of bacon.
  2. Make Korean pork marinade, halving the recipe since you are using small pieces of pork without bones.
  3. Marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Grill or broil for about 4-8 minutes or until done or stir-fry in an ungreased pan for 5-10 minutes. 
  5. Serve pork with rice, lettuce leaves, and side dishes.

Daeji Marinade (Spicy Korean Pork Marinade)

This marinade is sweet, spicy, and good for making any type of Korean pork- grilled ribs (Daeji Galbi), stir-fried pork, or broiled or barbecued pork (Daeji Bulgogi).

1 onion, minced

2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp red pepper paste 
5 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp rice wine
2 tsp minced ginger

  1. Mix ingredients together until well-blended.
  2. Use immediately or store in refrigerator.

Sparkling Ginger Cocktail


sugar (for rimming)
1 lemon wedge
1 tsp ginger syrup
3 1/2 oz Soju**
2 oz ginger ale
2 oz cranberry juice
candied ginger (optional, for garnish)

  1. Wet rim of a highball glass.  Dip into sugar for rimming.
  2. In the glass, muddle lemon.  Add ice, Soju, ginger syrup and cranberry juice.  
  3. Add ginger ale, mix and garnish with candied ginger or lemon wedge.

**Soju is the best known liquor from Korea.  It is distilled, vodka-like, rice liquor with high potency and often flavored similarly. It is smooth and clean in taste, which makes it easy to drink in combination with various Korean dishes.

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