cold weather cookery: Korean

I am on a massive Korean food jag. Has something to do with the deep freeze temps outside, and something more to do with the cold I am fighting off. And perhaps a little bit to do with the side trip I made to the H-Mart on the way home from a certification test I had to take for work, heh heh. But the craving was there before the H-Mart trip; that was just enabling.

The refrigerator case at H-Mart had a little tub of pre-seasoned various greens and mushrooms that one can mix in with rice to make bibimbap. I added a grated carrot that cooked in the heat of the rice, and a bit of hamburger scrambled with minced garlic and soy sauce, plus of course the fried egg on top. And ssamjang made by mixing commercial ssamjang with some “sauce for soup” that is a bit spicier, plus a touch of agave syrup and a couple tablespoons of sherry vinegar (thank you, David Chang, you studmuffin you).

I pillaged the pan chan selection in that refrigerator case, too, making away with a seasoned nori, a cucumber pickle with sesame, a sliced omelet, and a pickled whole garlic in spicy sauce that I have been macking down with abandon in hopes of killing the bug I’m fighting. It’s quite strong but I gotta say, that sauce is nom.

I also got a tub of the young radish kimchi with greens, which is really excellent — I’ve had it before and it is a delightful mix of fresh and fermenty. Radishes and their greens are supposed to be chockablock with vitamins too and very good for you.

And then I hauled off and made a kimchi stew. Fried a bit of sidemeat (pork fat with pepper, basically) with an onion, then dumped in kimchi, a bottle of clam juice, 2 bottles of water, and a spoonful of that spicy sauce for soup, a 1/2 tsp of sugar b/c the sauce had a bit of sugar in it too, and a tablespoon of coarse Korean red pepper powder. Simmered half an hour then dropped in a half package of tofu, sliced, and some Trader Joe’s frozen shrimp. Drizzled a little sesame oil over to serve. Based on Maangchi’s recipe on her site. There are not words for how good this is on a cold winter night, with some hot rice and pickley bits on the side.

I also did a congee with some of the leftover vegetables and some Japanese sweet potato that came out pretty awesome. I love hot congee with lots of stuff in it when I am feeling poorly.

I took a break for a Chinese-style chicken and oyster mushroom stir fry because they had adorable packets of oyster mushrooms on sale for $2.99. And we’ll probably eat the leftovers of that next week as a pan-fried noodle because they also had packets of pre-cooked yellow noodle that were irresistible to a foodwhore magpie.

Sushi tonight, most likely, as part of Nerd Date Night. (Wooo, Tron Legacy!) But then back to more kimchi stew, I think.

brown rice onigiri

I couldn’t help it — today I was seized by an overwhelming desire for a rice ball filled with canned salmon and chopped kimchi, and I even waited to eat lunch until the rice was ready — but damn it if that rice didn’t collapse all over the place as soon as I picked up my nice pressed, molded treat. I have been buying the short-grain brown rice from Whole Foods. It’s tasty and easy to acquire in the course of normal food-gathering. However, I find that it is utterly useless for making onigiri — the grains don’t stick together for crap. This confuses me, because the grains are the same shape as the white short-grain rice I use for less-diet-friendly onigiri. However, that white rice I bought at the Korean market, so perhaps they are not the same varieties of rice despite their similarities. I would prefer, of course, to just buy one kind of brown rice, since it keeps much less well than white rice, but I guess I better trot over to the Koreans and see if they have any brown rice that can be used for my fiberrific rice balls. Or is it just that brown rice doesn’t work for this application? Maki at JustHungry claims that it does…