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.

winter salad

Scraping the bottom of the barrel for a green or green-like vegetable after a long stretch of not grocery shopping, I did the following:

Mix shredded green cabbage (bagged from Trader Joe’s works fine) with a grated carrot, some diced kosher dill pickle, ground black pepper and a drizzle of the pickle brine.

Let it sit 15 mins or more and it makes a pretty decent tangy side for whatever you happen to be eating, in my case broiled chicken thigh and rice.

chili, well under $3 a serving

It’s been cold, so we felt like having a batch of chili. Two pounds of ground turkey and a bag of small red beans and a bottle of Rogue Mocha Porter later, among other things, we had a big pot of tallasiandude’s special-recipe chili. Yum!

And because we are both nerds, and both thinking about how to save money on food, we tried to figure out how cost-effective this chili really is. So far we reckon it’s about 10-11 person-meals’ worth of food, and it cost us $21 to make.  That’s $2.10 per meal.  If you also count the accessories (plain yogurt, brown rice, cheddar cheese, toast, and corn chips), that’s an extra $5 to the total… leaving the per-meal cost still pretty damn low, at $2.60.

That’s not too shabby, considering we used expensive beer and kosher meat and organic vegetables (for the most part).  It’s a good meaty chili, flavorful and filling.

Saute 3 roughly-chopped onions and 1/2 a head chopped garlic in 2 tbs butter (or bacon fat if you have it).  Add the turkey and cook through.  Chop half a head of celery, and saute in 1 tbs butter in the soup pot.  Stem and seed 6 serranos and 3 anaheims (or whatever chiles suit you), chop and add to celery.  Dump the turkey and onions into the pot with the chiles.  Add 1 lb of small red beans, previously soaked (or quick-soaked), and 1 large can of whole tomatoes, plus half a can of water and a bottle of dark beer.  Add 3-5 mini Hershey bars and/or dark chocolate mini squares, whatever you have around — unsweetened chocolate does tend to make it too bitter though.  Add chili powder, cumin, black pepper and salt to your liking.  Stew the heck out of it for a few hours on low heat.  Serve hot with toast or rice, topped with cheddar cheese and/or plain yogurt and a tangy hot sauce if you want a little more than the mild oomph the fresh chiles give.  Tortilla chips are nice with it too.