Cold Jellyfish Salad (Haepari Naengchae 해파리 냉채 ) with starflower

Korean jellyfish salad (Haepari Naengchae) with lemon and borage petals
Korean Cold Jellyfish Salad (Haepari Naengchae) www.kimchimari.com
Korean Cold Jellyfish Salad (Haepari Naengchae) with cucumber, carrots, shrimp and meyer lemon.

Really? Jellyfish?? Can you eat jellyfish? Yes, of course. Why not?..I don’t think it’s that different than eating squid..I am pretty sure that I tasted jellyfish even before I knew what it was. And don’t worry about the jellyfish poison, the tentacles are all removed before they are packaged.

If you eat the jellyfish without thinking about it, it is pretty darn good. It actually doesn’t have any strong flavor but has great texture; it’s a little bit chewy and a little bit crunchy. It’s kind of like chicken cartilage.  I think it’s one of those things where you either love it or you don’t. My husband is not a jellyfish or cartilage guy but I love both!

If you can’t get jellyfish or you just don’t like it, omit the jellyfish.  Cheonsachae (천사채) can be also be a great substitute because it has similar texture and not much of a particular flavor. Cheonsachae (Angle Noodle or Seaweed Noodle) are Korean half-transparent noodles made from the jelly-like extract left after steaming kombu, without the addition of grain flour or starch. (wikepedia). Both jellyfish and Seaweed Noodle are very low calorie food, so it’s also great for your diet!

Korean Jellyfish Salad (Haepari Naengchae) is an essential dish to any Korean party menu. Especially in the summer, served cold, it pairs wonderfully well with rich foods like Kalbi and other grilled meats, fried dishes like Yache Twigim and/or various Jeons like Beef and Perilla. You will agree with me that a respectable Korean banquet is never complete without Jeons!! Although I kind of think Jeons take a looong time to make and you end up with just one dish.

Anyway, jellyfish salad is also a great dish to prepare beforehand, keeping chilled in the fridge and you only need to assemble when the guests arrive. I LOVE dishes like that, don’t you? When preparing a party menu, it’s not a matter of how many dishes you have, it’s how they all work together.

Traditional Haepari Naengche only uses cucumber and jellyfish and only uses vinegar for the sour taste. But I have a beautiful Meyer Lemon tree in my back yard and I just love the freshness a lemon brings to the dish, so I added some lemon. And it came out even more delicious! Many newer recipes add more colorful vegetables like red bell peppers but I decided to add carrots as my twist to the dish. I think carrots add more substance and texture that can stand up to the jellyfish pretty well.

Servings: 4               Cooking Time: 1 hr (inactive 45 min)            Difficulty: easy

Ingredients

  • 6 oz (170 g) salted jelly fish (haepari)
  • 1 english cucumber, julienned
  • 2 small or 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T sugar
  • Dressing
    • 1 T rice vinegar
    • 1 T sugar
    • 2 tsp dry oriental mustard + 1 T water
    • 1 T meyer lemon (2 tsp regular lemon)
    • 1 tsp salt
  1. Korean Jellyfish usually comes in a bag, heavily salted for preservation. Rinse jellyfish with water couple times to get rid of all the salt and let it soak in cold water for about 45 min.

    Rinsed jellyfish for Korean jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae)
    Rinsed jellyfish for Korean jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae)
  2. While the jellyfish is swimming in water, julienne cucumber. A technique that many Korean chefs use is to first peel away the outer skin and flesh part of the cucumber, omitting the seeded center.
    Korean cucumber julienning technique
    Korean cucumber julienning technique – peeling outer layer
    julienning cucumber using Korean technique
    julienning cucumber using Korean technique

    It is called “dolyeo kkaki( 돌려깍기)” in Korean which means to shave in circular fashion. I am usually not a huge fan of fancy cutting techniques just for the sake of being fancy but this one has a purpose because it keeps only the very crunchy part of the cucumber.

  3. Julienne carrots into similar sizes. I used yellow and purple carrots here but you can use whatever carrot you like.

    carrots and cucumber julienned for jellyfish salad
    carrots and cucumber julienned for jellyfish salad
  4. I am using pre-cooked frozen shrimp here again. Just thaw and then halve the shrimps lengthwise.
    Sliced shrimps for Korean jellyfish salad
    Sliced shrimps for Korean jellyfish salad

    You are welcome to use fresh shrimp if you’d like, just cook, peel and slice similarly.

  5. Make the oriental yellow mustard paste by mixing 2 tsp dry mustard powder with 1 T water.
    Korean yellow mustard (Gyeoja) made from Oriental Mustard powder www.kimchimari.com
    Korean yellow mustard (Gyeoja/Kyeoja) made from Oriental Mustard powder

    Leave it alone for 4-5 min or more for the flavor to fully develop. If you’re too lazy to make the paste, use the yellow mustard tube but be prepared to use lot more of the paste because the flavors are just not as full bodied and strong as the powder.

  6. When the jellyfish has been in the water for over 40 min, boil some water (3 cups?). Rinse and drain jellyfish into a steel or silicone colander (because you will be scorching the jellyfish with boiling water). Pour boiling water onto the jellyfish evenly and they will shrivel up like this!
    Jellyfish flash cooked with boiling water
    Jellyfish flash cooked with boiling water

    Be careful and DON’T COOK the jellyfish!! Just SHOCK it so that jellyfish (haepari) gets even more crunchy and less chewy. Some recipes use jellyfish without this step and it will still be OK but I think this really gives a better texture.

  7. Season jellyfish with 2 T vinegar and 1 T sugar and marinade for at least 10 min. You can leave in the fridge overnight and  it will taste even better the next day.  NOTE:: Sometimes jellyfish can smell a little bit. What to do if the jellyfish smells a little bad? Add some extra lemon or even add a bit of gingerale or sprite to the marinade to help get rid of any unwanted smell.
  8. Make dressing by mixing mustard, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice and salt and set aside.
  9. Serve chilled, either all the ingredients separately and mix with dressing at the table
    different ways of serving Korean jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae) www.kimchimari.com
    different ways of serving Korean jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae) with meyer lemon slices and borage flowers

    or toss everything together and serve. Hope you enjoy it with your friends and family this summer! Let me know how you like it!!

Few more things..

So what are the purple flowers in the water bowl and also on top of the jellyfish salad (haepari naengchae)? It’s Starflower (aka Borage)! A new exciting discovery for me!! A great find at my local Whole Foods. They where selling this in a pot this spring, I brought it home and planted it. Did you know that these cute purple flowers are edible and taste like cucumbers?!! It’s actually eaten in salads and as tea in Mediterranean cuisine. So I added some Borage petals to my Haepari Naenchae for added cucumber flavor and for added prettiness. :))

Borage plant growing in my backyard
Borage plant growing in my backyard
Korean jellyfish salad (Haepari Naengchae) with lemon and borage petals
Korean jellyfish salad (Haepari Naengchae) with lemon and borage (starflower) petals

Tips

  • Prepare jellyfish and cucumber, carrots separately, a day ahead of any party.
  • Additional ingredients to add – cooked egg strips (jidan), imitation crab meat.
  • Add freshly chopped garlic on top and some red chili pepper oil for extra zing!

“Mock” Kimchi Rice with Sauerkraut and Bacon

Mock Kimchi Rice with Bacon
Mock Kimchi Rice with Bacon and Sauerkraut
Mock Kimchi Rice with Bacon and Sauerkraut

In addition to traditional, authentic Korean recipes, I decided I should also share some modern recipes that have Korean flavors but not necessarily traditional and also non-Korean recipes that are worth blogging about. As long as they taste yummy, why not? Right? OK, so hope you will all follow me on this new journey of mine.

This recipe is great if you have no access to Kimchi but you are craving for the taste of it. As my siblings (3 sisters and 1 brother) all live spread out between Korea and US, we try to have family reunions every couple years so that we can be all together, even if it’s just for few days. It has actually been several years since our last reunion due to various reasons but when everyone comes, our group gets as large as 20 including my mother. We  all love cooking and love eating much more! So… each family take turns shopping and cooking for everyone else.

This works out great most of the time except we usually have problems ending up with too much groceries at the end of the stay. We always joked that we end up shopping enough food to feed ourselves for a month when it is just a week! Towards the end of our vacation, we may have 3 – 4 meals worth of food out on the table at one sitting and would tell each other to “eat.. Eat.. EAT!!!”. We all probably gain a few pounds by the end these vacations…still those were happy times… ;)

Now, because each sister has a different style of buying groceries, we made it so that no one goes shopping alone. At least two with different styles always grocery shopped together so they will balance each other out.  One sister likes to buy more than less, another likes to buy less than more..you can see how that goes..haha…And I won’t say who is which. So, which end of the spectrum do I belong to? In the middle of course!! Well, to be honest, probably not. I am probably towards buying more because if there’s one thing I hate is not having enough food for people. :) As I always say, it’s better to have leftovers than have everyone eyeing the one last piece on the plate. Oh btw my brother also loves to grocery shop but he is usually interested in buying snacks – or should I say junk food?

Now, let’s talk about the menu. We all have very international tastes and we go from cooking Mediterranean Couscous to Paella but the Korean blood in our bodies require that we feed our stomachs with some kind of a Kimchi dish. And one year, when there was no Korean grocery store to be found, my sister #3 made a dish with sauerkraut, bacon and rice that was surprisingly Korean in its flavor but without any Kimchi used. Sauerkraut has that sour fermented taste just like Kimchi minus the strong smell and then the flavor of bacon is more prominent with sauerkraut than kimchi so I think this is just a heavenly combination. I always wanted to cook this dish and finally got to cook it recently.

With this weekend being Memorial Day weekend, I think this may be a perfect dish to make as potluck or if you get tired of eating all the BBQ and want something different.

Servings: 4                 Cooking Time: 30                    Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 3 cup (20 oz/540g) rice, soaked in water
  • 1 tsp red chili powder or more for spicier version
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 tsp fresh chopped garlic
  • 8 – 10 pieces of bacon
  • 2 cup sauerkraut
  • 3 1/2 cup water (if you like your rice dry and flaky), add more water (1/4 cup?) if you like your rice moist.
  1. Soak rice in water for 30 minutes and drain.
  2. Measure 2 cups of sauerkraut after draining the liquid.
  3. Cut bacon into small slices.

    ingredients for sauerkraut bacon rice
    ingredients for mock kimchi rice with sauerkraut and bacon
  4. In a nice thick pot (cast iron pot is great), add bacon slices. Render most of the fat from the bacon by frying them on medium heat for 4-5 min or until it looks lightly brown and crispy like below.

    Rendering fat from bacon
    Rendering fat from bacon
  5. Discard most of the fat and leave about 2 – 3 Tbs in the pot. (just enough to coat the bottom)
  6. Add sauerkraut, garlic powder and chili powder. Saute sauerkraut with bacon for 1-2 min. Garlic powder and chili powder is optional. Adding them really makes it taste like Kimchi. Skip these if you want, it should still be yummy.
    sauerkraut with garlic and chili powder for mock kimchi rice
    sauerkraut with garlic and chili powder for mock kimchi rice
    Sauteed sauerkraut and bacon for mock kimchi rice
    Sauteed sauerkraut and bacon for mock kimchi rice

    Doesn’t this look exactly like Kimchi?? You will be surprised how much it even tastes like Kimchi!

  7. Now add rice to pot. But WAIT!!  OPTIONALLY, you can set aside about 1/2 cup of the sauerkraut/bacon mix and later use as topping when serving. This allows extra texture and punch of flavor. Spread remaining sauerkraut and bacon evenly in pot and add soaked rice on top. Add 3 1/2 cup of water which should be enough water to cover all the rice. Because we want  sauerkraut and bacon to brown at the bottom, do not mix rice.

    Mock Kimchi Rice ready to cook
    Mock Kimchi Rice with Sauerkraut and Bacon is now ready to cook
  8. Cover and cook on med heat for 10 minutes. Rice should be boiling. Always smell the pot to make sure the bottom is not burning.
  9. Lower heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes or so until no or very little steam come from the pot.
  10. Turn off heat and keep covered for 3 min more.

    Finished Mock Kimchi Rice with Sauerkraut and Bacon
    Finished Mock Kimchi Rice with Sauerkraut and Bacon
  11. And now it’s done! Mix the bottom of the pot with the rice and serve with some of the topping you set aside in step 7.

    Close up of Kimchimari's Mock Kimchi Rice
    Mixed Mock Kimchi Rice
Easy mock Kimchi Rice with Sauerkraut and Bacon
Easy mock Kimchi Rice with Sauerkraut and Bacon garnished with perilla leaves

My podcast Interview with SBS Australia is now online!

SBS Interview Kimchimari
SBS Interview Kimchimari

After my KBS World Radio interview in Feb, I was contacted by Harnsle Joo at SBS Australia to do an interview about Kimchimari.com.  First, I thought it was the Korean broadcast station SBS but then I soon learned it’s actually the Australian’s Special Broadcasting Service that is a national, multi-cultural, multi-language service. Harnsle told me my interview will be on their bilingual (Korean/English) segment which I thought was wonderful.

I had a great time doing the interview – we talked about how I came to start my blog and even about where I want to go from here. Anyway, here’s the interview in both Korean and English:

English – http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/korean/en/content/korea-online-kimchimaricom?language=en

Korean – http://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/korean/ko/content/koria-onrain-kimchimaricom?language=ko

Have a great week!

Three color vegetables (삼색나물 Samsaek Namul) – White

Korean Radish Saute Side Dish (Mu/Moo Namul Banchan)
Korean Radish Saute Side Dish (Mu/Moo Namul Banchan)
Korean Radish Saute Side Dish (Mu/Moo Namul Banchan)

Sam (pronounced saam) means 3 in Korean and saek means color. So samsaek namul means vegetables of 3 colors: specifically white, black/brown and green. I will be writing a 3 series post about this dish since it’s actually 3 different dishes often plated in one. Today’s post will be on White radish namul.

Recently, all of a sudden, I had this craving for mu namul (무나물) – a surprisingly delicious Korean radish namul/banchan/side dish. The most yummy memories of mu/moo namul come from my visits to Dr. Okgil Kim’s country side home during my college years. Dr. Okgil Kim is a well respected Korean woman educator who was also the 8th president of Ewha Woman’s university (1961-1979) – my alma mater – and the Secretary of Education. After having served in the public office, she retired to a beautiful but humble home in the area of Munkyung Saejae(문경세재) .

Dr. Kim is someone I have the utmost respect for. Both in terms of the work that she did to advance woman’s status and education in Korea and also in terms of how she lived her everyday life. She was a counselor, comforter, super generous human being who was also bold and free spirited. Living as a single working woman was not an easy feat in those days and she overcame it with humor which was a rarity – and is still today to some extent -in Korean society.

I am not sure how our family became close to her other than the fact that my parents and Dr. Kim all fled from North to South Korea during the Korean war. Our family shared similar tastes in food and also temperament which is North Korean style – honest, no nonsense, no frills, just see and tell things like it is.. Perhaps that’s where some of my candid stories and opinions come from.. :)).

The doors to her home in Munkyung Saejae province was always open to any visitor that wanted to come and rest, eat or sleep..It was truly a place for all to enjoy. Anyway, where is this all leading? Well, one of Dr. Kim Okgil’s favorite banchan was the radish namul. Strangely for a Korean, she did NOT like garlic or overly spicy dishes. Some people thought foods served at her home were even kind of bland but I thought they were simply down to earth good – just like the owner of the home.

Going back to Samseak Namul..here is a list of vegetables that make up each color.

  • For white: root vegetables like bellflower roots (도라지 Doraji) and radish (무나물 munamul)
  • For black: vegetable stems like fiddlehead ferns (고사리 gohsari) and sweet potato stems(고구마줄기 goguma julki)
  • For green: leaf vegetables like spinach(시금치 sikeumchi), water dropwart(미나리 minari) and perilla leaves (깻잎 kkaetnip)

I also love bellflower roots and please refer to my bibimbap post on how to make doraji namul (bellflower root namul) recipe.

The recipe below was based on my sister #2’s memory from the time she helped out at Dr Kim’s kitchen during those times. Thank you Sis!

Servings: 3                     Cooking Time: 10 min                          Difficulty: easy

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lb Korean radish
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 tsp grated ginger juice
  • 1/4~1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (or perilla seed oil)
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • sesame seeds for sprinkling
Cutting radish for mu/moo namul (korean)
Cutting radish for mu/moo namul (korean)
  1.  Cut radish into 2 inch (5 cm) thick chunks.

    How to peel radish for Korean mu namul
    How to peel radish for Korean mu namul
  2. Peel the radish with a knife. Korean radish has a thick skin so using a regular peeler will be more work (probably two layers or more).

    Slicing radish for mu namul (Korean Radish Namul)
    Slicing radish for mu namul (Korean Radish Saute/Namul/side dish)
  3. Slice radish chunk vertically into 1/2~3/4 in (1cm) thick slices. I made mine thick but you can certainly slice them thinner. Don’t slice them too thin because radish will break easily if too thin.
  4. Cut radish slices into sticks.

    Radish sticks for Korean Radish Saute (mu namul) side dish
    Radish sticks for Korean Radish Saute (mu namul) side dish
  5. Add oil to pan and sauté for 3 min on medium heat. Add 1/2 C water and lower heat, cover and cook for 5-6 min. Stirring occasionally.
  6. Add 1/4~1/2 tsp sea salt. Squeeze 1 tsp fresh grated ginger to add the juice only. You can use chopped garlic instead but I like ginger better.

    Radish sauteed in pan (mu namul)
    Radish sauteed in pan (mu namul)
  7. Sauté over med high heat until radishes are cooked and liquid evaporates. Radish sticks should be semi-transparent when cooked. Finish by adding sesame oil or perilla seed oil (들기름 deul kireum), sprinkling of sesame seeds.

And there you have it! It is amazingly simple to make but just like how french style glazed root vegetables like carrots and turnips can taste amazing when cooked properly, Korean radishes can taste simply divine when made this way. Any bitterness or peppery flavor goes away while the sauteeing really brings out the best of the radish: slightly sweet and soothing with the soft yet slightly crunchy texture being perfectly balanced.  Mu/moo namul is a side dish(banchan) that goes great with any Korean meal.

Storage – store in refrigerator up to a week

Make a quick and yummy bibimbap by mixing with some warm rice (multi-grain is even better), mu namul and yangnyeom jang (soy sauce, sesame oil, chopped green onions and garlic and sesame seeds) to make a fabulous gluten-free, vegetarian meal.

Korean Radish Saute Side Dish (Mu/Moo Namul Banchan)
Korean Radish Saute Side Dish (Mu/Moo Namul Banchan)

I will post on the next two color vegetables (black and green) very soon so check back soon. Enjoy!

Hearty Soy Sauce Chicken Stew (닭도리탕 Dak doritang)

Boiling Dak toritang (Korean Chicken stew with soy sauce)
Korean Chicken Stew (닭도리탕 Dakdoritang)
Korean Chicken Stew (닭도리탕 Dakdoritang)

 

I am sure you can agree that great recipes are the ones that are easy and tasty all at the same time. But unfortunately there is not a whole lot of them. But I am happy to report that this recipe is one of those!  This recipe is based on a blog post by a Korean blogger who wrote about how she learned it from her Grandma. But she did not have any measurements! Just a list of ingredients. I guess Grandma is not used to using Tablespoons and Cups.. Oh well..that’s where I come in I guess.

So, this Dak doritang(Korean soy sauce chicken stew – also called Dakbokkeumtang) recipe was so easy to make, it actually made me nervous the first time I made it. Is that it? That’s all the ingredients? Don’t I need to add other seasonings?? But having a new found respect for Gook Kanjang/Guk Kanjang/Kuk Ganjang during my stay in Korea, I decided to go with it. I simply had to trust that it will do its magic.

Anyway,  I am glad I stuck to it. The taste of the chicken stew may not throw a big punch in your first bite like many restaurant versions but the more you eat it, the more you are tasting the true hearty, simple taste of Korean food at home. Take a spoonful of the warm stew broth along with some potato and you will see what I mean. Happiness all the way from your mouth to your tummy. :)

I tried making this Korean chicken stew (Dak doritang) several times over the years because it is another one of my favorite dishes from my childhood.  But I was never totally happy with it. It just did not taste the same as the one I tasted at home when I was a kid. The one I remember was not red nor spicy and yet so flavorful and delicious – not like the overly spicy, red dak doritang(닭도리탕) /dak bokkeumtang (닭볶음탕) that is commonly served today.

It’s not like I am against red, spicy dishes but sometimes, even as a Korean, I get tired of eating dishes that kind of taste the same – spicy, sweet and salty all at the same time.  Sometimes the seasoning is so strong, you can hardly tell what the main ingredient is. But this dish is not like that. If you have never tried Korean food before, along with Bulgogi and Kalbi, this will be a great dish to try as your first dish.

Let’s get cooking then –

Servings 6             Time: Prep 5 min  Cook 45 min          Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients for Korean Soy Sauce Chicken Stew (Dak doritang)

  • 2 lb (1 kg) chicken pcs with bone
  • 3 medium carrots (I used colored carrots)
  • 8~9 small colored potatoes
  • 3~6 fresh Korean green chili peppers or 2~3 dried red chili pepper
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • 5 T guk kanjang
  • 1~2 T mirin or white wine
  • 1 T jin kanjang (dark soy sauce)
  • 4 C water
  • dash x 5 black pepper

 

chicken for dak doritang
chicken for dak doritang
  • Prepare chicken by removing excess fat and most of the skin. I bought a whole chicken and cut into pieces but you can buy whatever pieces you like. But try to buy some with bones so your broth will taste yummy. Score big and thick pieces like thigh, drumstick and breasts so the flavor will get into the meat.

    Chicken with soy sauce
    Chicken with soy sauce
  • Add chicken to stew pot and add 5 T Gook Kanjang + 1 T Jin Kanjang. Mix it well.

    Chicken in pot with water for Dak doritang
    Chicken in pot with water for Dak doritang
  • Add 4 C of water and 1 T garlic. Bring to boil.  Cover and cook for 15 min on medium high heat.

    Vegetables for Korean chicken stew (Dak doritang 닭도리탕)
    Vegetables for Korean chicken stew (Dak doritang 닭도리탕)
  • Meanwhile, wash and clean potatoes, carrots, onion and green chili peppers. Cut into big chunks because they will be cooked for a long time. I used small colored potatoes so I didn’t cut or peel them. But if using large potatoes like russet, peel and cut. Take the stem off of chili peppers.

    Chicken with vegetables for Dak doritang
    Chicken with vegetables for Dak doritang
  • Add the beautiful carrots and potatoes to the pot. Lower heat to medium and cook for 20 min.

    Boiling Dak toritang (Korean Chicken stew with soy sauce)
    Boiling Dak toritang (Korean Chicken stew with soy sauce)
  • Add the green chilis and about 5 dashes of black pepper (1/8 tsp). Raise heat back to medium high and cover, cook for 10 min more to infuse the chili flavor into the stew.

    Dak doritang (Korean Chicken Stew)
    Dak doritang (Korean Chicken Stew)
  • Now we are ready to eat! Just get a bowl of rice and some kimchi and you will have a very hearty and happy meal. Enjoy!!

Seafood Green Onion Pancake (Dongrae or Haemul Pajeon 동래 해물파전)

DongraePajeon 동래파전 (Korean Seafood Green Onion Pancake)
DongraePajeon 동래파전 (Korean Seafood Green Onion Pancake)
DongraePajeon 동래파전 (Korean Seafood Green Onion Pancake)

There was a special kind of Haemul (Seafood) Pajeon (파전) that was served at fancy parties at our home when I was little, many years ago… And I have been looking for the recipe of this very yummy seafood green onion pancake for a long time. I did not have the recipe because it is not a dish that my mom or dad made but it was a dish that was made by a professional chef who came to cook for my parent’s Diplomatic dinner parties. Mrs. Shim was her name and all her food was just really delicious.

So when we had these dinner parties,  I waited and waited until dinner was all served (at least 9pm or so?) so I could have the leftovers because they were all so good. I prayed that the guests had small stomachs or was too proper and did not ask for seconds.. :) Also another way I got to taste Mrs. Shim’s food was to hang around in the kitchen all day and seek opportunities for tasting or cleaning up defective pieces that did not meet her standard.

This special kind of Haemul Pajeon is called Dongrae/Dongnae Pajeon (동래파전)- named after the region of Dongrae/Dongnae which is basically the area of the city of Busan today. For some reason, this pancake loaded with green onions and tons of seafood has lost popularity over the years and I almost forgot about it. But recently, I was reminded of this fabulous pancake when my nephew SW bragged about the delicious Dongrae Pajeon made by his wife EH who is from Busan. So.. thank you EH for the inspiration!!

Unlike the common, everyday Korean Pajeon (Green Onion Pancake) which is made by just mixing everything together – batter, seafood, vegetables and all – Dongrae/Dongnae Pajeon is made in several steps or layers which is more work but definitely worth the effort. It is much more flavorful because there is less batter and more seafood and tons of green onions.

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is… ;) Let’s get cooking then –

OH! BTW – I provide 2 sauces in the recipe but you can certainly make just one. Chokanjang is the usual soy sauce served with most Korean Pancakes but try Chogochujang, I made it at the suggestion from my nephew’s wife and I was surprised how good it tasted together!

Servings: 3 pancakes (6×4 in)     Cooking Time: 40       Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients for Seafood Green Onion Pancake (Dongrae/Dongnae Pajeon)

      • 7 oz (200 g) young green onions (approx 2 bunches), thinner the better
      • 2 oz (50 g) minari/water dropwort or water cress – optional
      • 4 oz (100 g) small shrimps (frozen is fine)
      • 4 oz (100 g) bay scallops and/or chopped clams
      • 3 oz (75 g) ground beef
        • 2 tsp soy sauce (진간장 jinkanjang)
        • 1 tsp plum syrup (maesil extract 매실액) or 1/2 tsp sugar
        • 1 tsp mirin or rice wine or sake
        • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
        • 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
      • 1/2 C (50g) regular flour
      • 3/4 C (150g) rice flour
      • 1/4 C (50g) sweet rice flour
      • 1 tsp salt
      • 1 ~ 2 egg
      • vegetable oil for pan frying
      • 2 C (360 ml) anchovy stock or water
      • Chokanjang (sour soy sauce)
        • 1 Tbs soy sauce
        • 1 Tbs vinegar
        • 1 Tbs water
        • 1/2 tsp sugar
        • sprinkle of sesame seeds
      • Chogochujang (spicy sweet red pepper sauce)
        • 1 Tbs Korean Gochujang (red pepper paste)
        • 1 Tbs vinegar (rice wine or white) or 1 Tbs lemon juice
        • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
        • sprinkle of sesame seeds

*** If scallops or shrimps are frozen, thaw them in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

  1. Make Chogochujang sauce by mixing gochujang, vinegar, sugar and sesame seeds.
  2. Make Chokanjang sauce by mixing soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and water. Set aside.
  3. Clean green onions and minari. Cut green onions 6 in (15 cm) long.This is usually 1/2 of the full length of green onions sold in US.
    cleaned minari and green onions for Pajeon
    cleaned minari and young green onions for Pajeon

    The green onions used for Pajeon should be young and tender – called 실파(shilpa) in Korean. If your green onions are any thicker than 1/2 in (1 cm) then cut it in half or smash the white part with the side of your knife to make it tender.

    Smashing green onions for Pajeon
    Smashing green onions for Pajeon
  4. Cut minari 3 ” (7 cm) long. About 1/2 length of your green onions. Reason for cutting minari shorter is because they are quite fibrous and will be too chewy if left too long. Normally, only minari stems are used but these minaris are quite young and tender so use the leaves too. Use minari leaves as garnish and serve on the side to add a touch of freshness to your pajeon. (See serving suggestion pic at the end of post)

    Cutting minari/water dropwort for Pajeon
    Cutting minari/water dropwort for Pajeon
  5. My thawed shrimps (pre-cooked) and bay scallops. Bought frozen from the Korean market. Cute aren’t they?

    Thawed shrimp and scallop
    Thawed shrimp and scallop
  6. Chop the scallops and shrimp roughly into big chunks.
  7. Season the ground beef by adding the soy sauce, mirin, maesil syrup or sugar, chopped garlic and sesame oil.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk egg.
  9. In another bowl, make the batter by mixing flour + rice flour + sweet rice flour and anchovy stock. Rice flour likes to settle to the bottom so stir it well and be sure to stir right before you use it.
  10. Now we are ready to make the pancake! You should have all the prepared ingredients next to your pan like this (minus oil) –

    Dongrae Pajeon (Korean seafood Pancake) ingredients
    Dongrae Pajeon (Korean seafood Pancake) ingredients
  11. Heat a nice thick pan (cast iron is great) on med-high heat. Pour about 2 T oil into pan.
  12. Layer green onions in pan and then minari on top:

    Green onions and Minari in pan
    Green onions and Minari in pan
  13. Pour batter over green onions and minari. DO NOT try to cover all the green onions with the batter – you will end up adding too much batter. Pancake will taste doughy if you have too much batter.  Pour about 2-3 Tbs per pancake – just enough for green onions to hold together.

    green onions and minari with batter
    green onions and minari with batter – do not add too much batter
  14. Quickly (lower heat to med. if you think it’s burning) dot the pancake with ground beef + scallops + shrimp. Using your hands works best – just be careful!

    Seafood and Beef on Green Onion pancake (Pajeon)
    Seafood and Beef on Green Onion pancake (Pajeon)
  15. Top with 1/3 of whisked egg (pancake on the right). If you like eggs, you can use up to 1 whole egg per pancake.
  16. Turn the pancake over to cook the other side.

    Pajeon turned over
    Pajeon (Green Onion Pancake) turned over
  17. Let it cook for another 2 min or so until pancake is nicely browned.
  18. And there it is!

    Dongrae Pajeon with Chogochujang
    Dongrae Pajeon – Korean Seafood Green Onion Pancake with Chogochujang

Serving Suggestions

  • This Dongrae Pajeon (Korean Seafood Green Onion Pancake) pairs wonderfully with Korean Rice Wine – Makgeolli/Makgeoli/Maguli (막걸리) so you must give it a try!!

Variations for Haemul Dongrae/Dongnae Pajeon

  • Original version includes chopped clams so if you can add it, it should be good
  • Calamari, mussels, oysters are also great additions or substitutions
  • Just use 3/4 C flour and 3/4 sweet rice flour to make the batter if you don’t have regular rice flour

Breakfast at Andong

Andong Gurume Historical Korean Home (고택 Gotaek)
Simple Traditional Korean Breakfast
Simple Traditional Korean Breakfast

Nothing fancy or multi-colored, nothing grilled or fried but there is something so comforting and deliciously pleasing about a properly prepared authentic Korean breakfast.  In my opinion, this is what traditional Korean food tastes are all about. Every now and then I have complained about how Korean food has changed over the years and have lost a lot of the authentic traditional flavors in exchange for more instant flavors of hot spicy and sugary sweetness. Don’t get me wrong, I love sweet flavors but not when it’s just overpoweringly sweet. Much like everything else in life these days, the deeper, more subtle delicate flavors have been sacrificed for more quick, attention grabbing, stronger flavors  that can instantly give one a false idea that the food tastes good.

  • From left to right: 1st row: Kimchi, Zucchini Jeon(호박전 hobak jeon), Jangjorim(장조림), Cabbage Namul (배추나물 Baechoo Namul)
  • 2nd row: mini sorghum bukkumi (수수뿌꾸미 susubukkumi), dipping sauce

The Zucchini Jeon was slightly scrunchy yet soft with the zucchini tasting almost sweet. The Jangorim was great too with just the right amount of saltiness and sweetness, not overpowering the meat flavor. The Baechoo Namul was my favorite – the seasoning was light enough for the sweet cabbage flavor to come through and then with the added sesame oil and seeds, there was a wonderful note of nuttiness at the end. I plan to work on the recipe of this dish and post sometime soon. After eating a very satisfying meal, I ended the meal with the mini sorghum rice dumpling (수수부꾸미 susubukkumi) with a surprise stuffing of pine nuts and dried jujubes.

Korean Sorghum Rice Pancake (수수부꾸미 Susubukkumi)
Korean Sorghum Rice Pancake (수수부꾸미 Susubukkumi)

This wonderful breakfast was part of our Bed & Breakfast stay at Gurume Resort (구름에 리조트) in Gyeongsangbuk-do Andong (경상북도 안동). Gurume(구름에) which means “into the clouds” is a resort that just opened this July and it consists of 7 different historical Korean homes (고택 Gotaek) with their ages ranging from 200-400 years old. Each home has been relocated from their original location to the resort as vacation villas for people to experience first hand how Korean scholars lived centuries ago.

Andong Gurume Historical Korean Home (고택 Gotaek)
Andong Gurume Historical Korean Home (고택 Gotaek)  “Baksanjeong (박산정)”

My memorable trip to the past was only possible because I reconnected with one of my best friend from high school and it turns out we have a lot of common interests. It was almost eerie to discover how similar our passions were – especially about farming and also about Korean traditional food and culture. I am so happy that I now have such a friend who is just as weird as I am.. haha..

At her recommendation, I reserved the villa – imagining a trip just like this. The villas look and feel completely like homes from the old old days but with ultra modern interiors. Our villa was called Parkseon Jung (박선정) and it was built in the early 1600’s!! It contains 2 bedrooms and a middle hall between rooms that is totally open in the front and back. The picture below shows the backside window.

Open window from Andong Historical Home
Open window in Andong Historical Home

Another amazing feature is these glass doors that was built inside traditional wooden doors, coated with Korean rice paper (한지 Hanji). These glass doors even lock with a remote control!

Modern Glass doors in Korean historical home
Modern Glass doors in Korean historical home (from outside)
View from an open window inside Andong Korean Historical Home Gurume
View from an open window inside Andong Korean Historical Home Gurume (from the inside)

In the morning, I woke up to this beautiful and peaceful view from our home!

Morning view from Andong Gotaek
Morning view from Andong Gotaek(Korean Historical Home)

Feeling the breeze through the windows and hearing the wind chime ringing..

Korean traditional wind chime
Korean traditional wind chime

I was taken to a totally different time and place. I was totally free from all the hustle and bustle of a large city like Seoul…

If you ever visit Korea, I hope you will get to visit and stay at a Korean traditional home and experience the same peace and tranquility that I experienced here.

Here are some additional snapshots from the resort.

Pretty Korean traditional tile roof (기와지붕 Kiwa jibung)
Pretty Korean traditional tile roof (기와지붕 Kiwa jibung)
View from a study inside another Korean historial home
View through another Korean historical home

Life in Korea – Merry Christmas from my new studio!

Christmas cheesecake tart
Christmas centerpiece
Christmas centerpiece

Last year’s Christmas really did not feel like Christmas at all. There was no tree, no cards (Koreans really don’t send cards to each other anymore and maybe because we don’t have a lot of friends?), no Christmas parties to go to (I so miss our old CA friends.) and no daughter (she was traveling with her friends in Europe). It really made last year’s holidays pretty quiet, uneventful and almost depressing :(

This year, however, I am happy to report that I hosted a Christmas party for my college alumni friends in my new cooking studio!!! What?? A cooking studio?? Yes, you heard it right folks! My sister and I will be opening a cooking studio in Itaewon called Studio Mari Seoul!

Moving to Korea was pretty hard and I still miss California very much but things are finally happening for me here. Thanks to my sister #3’s generosity, my dream #2 (#1 was farming) of having my own cooking studio has become a reality much much sooner than I thought it would. It all happened when my sister recently built a 3 story home in Itaewon. She originally planned to just rent out the 1st floor but one day we decided to use the space to pursue our dreams as partners. My dream was to teach Korean cooking in English to foreigners. My sister’s dream was to sell her own line of tableware and home decor items for the home having a modern and updated version of traditional Korean designs. Our current plan is to open the studio in February 2014 so stay tuned! I will soon post more details about my cooking classes once I have them all designed.

Now, back to my party. When my college friends had our Christmas get together at a restaurant last year, we almost got kicked out because we were too loud. :) So this year, the group was looking to have the party somewhere more private. And so I offered to have the Christmas party in my future studio. The entire process involved lot more work than I initially estimated. Mainly because I had to furnish the studio with everything from furniture to spoons. And then I still had to come up with the menu, prepare dinner and decorate! yikes!

Anyway, here is the result. The picture below is the Christmas party centerpiece made from 3 candles, bokchoy leaves, red chicory leaves (Rossa Italiana), pine tree leaves, pines and red berries.

DSC_4844The red chicory leaves are a popular Ssam vegetable in Korea and it had the perfect red stem in the middle. The leaves are a little bit wilted in the picture because I took the photo next morning but everyone loved it at the party!

MENU

I wanted to offer something different than Pizza/Pasta for our Christmas dinner. So we made –

Paella for Christmas party in Seoul
Paella for Christmas party in Seoul

Paella: Korea has such an abundance of seafood, so Paella was a great dish to prepare both in terms of ease and color. The only seafood we used that’s not local is the lobster and you can certainly substitute crabs instead! Since Korean rice is a bit too sticky for Paella, I mixed 3 part Korean short grain rice to 2 part Jasmine long grain rice.

Beef Kababs: I bought Korean Blade Steak (부채살 Buchaesal) from Costco and cut into cubes but was careful to remove all connective tissue (gristle) that is in the center of each buchaesal steak piece. Cause the gristle part can be quite tough. My friends thought they were so tender and asked me what the cut was. They were quite surprised when I told them it was relatively this inexpensive cut.

Beef Kebab - Middle Eastern style
Beef Kebab – Middle Eastern style (before grilling)

Greek Salad with Tzatzki Dressing: Unfortunately, I have no picture. I do have one tip though for those of you living in Korea who are interested in using plain unsweet yogurt for cooking – it’s hard to find plain, unsweetened yogurt here. So far, the only one I have found is Denmark Plain Yogurt. This is surely the best yogurt to use for the Tzatzki dressing.

Christmas cheesecake tart
Christmas cheesecake tart

Last but not least, we finished off the dinner with a home-made lemon cheesecake tart and pear + apple compote, topped with whipped cream. The tart is a creation by my niece who is a natural born baker. I usually don’t like cheesecakes because they are so thick and heavy but this one was light but yet just creamy enough to feel indulgent.

Table setting for Christmas party in Seoul
Table setting for Christmas party in Seoul

Sharing good food and good times with family and friends is part of what makes holidays special. I have been truly blessed in that sense and more.. I truly hope all your holidays will be special, warm and just as blessed as mine. Hoping to share many more recipes and stories about Korean food in the coming new year, Happy Holidays my friends!

PS. Kalbi jjim 갈비찜 (Korean short rib stew) is coming next, so stay tuned!

Korean Sauces I (For Dipping)

Soy Sauce w/ Vinegar (Chokanjang 초간장)
Soy Sauce w/ Vinegar (Chokanjang 초간장)
Soy Sauce w/ Vinegar (Chokanjang 초간장)

Just like many other cuisines, sauces play an important role in Korean cooking. The same kind of sauce is used in many different dishes so many Koreans can make these sauces with their eyes closed. When I was preparing to write about sauces I was hoping that there would be some well organized categorization of the Korean sauces much like the 5 mother sauces in French cooking. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any (or I simply may not have found it) so using my engineering sense, I am going to group the sauces into 5 groups. There are sauces for 1. Dipping and Mixing (Bibim), 2. Braising(Jorim) or Glazing (Jjim), 3. Tossing and Coating (Moochim or Namool), 4.Stir Frying (Bokkeum) and 5. Marinades for Grilling (Gui).

Let’s first start with Korean dipping sauces as shown below. These 3 sauces are probably the most used and also the most basic of all sauces. When foods are dipped into these sauces, the flavor really comes alive. And the great thing is that the seasoning level can be controlled by individuals who dip the food. Some people like to make a batch of these sauces and keep them in the fridge for easy use. But unless you are eating these all the time and/or have a big family, I don’t think you really need to.

Sauce #1 – Soy Sauce with Vinegar (Chokanjang 초간장)

  • 2 Tbs Soy Sauce (Jinkanjang 진간장)
  • 1 Tbs Vinegar (brown rice, rice wine are best or just use white)

Optional Extras

  • 1 Tbs water or anchovy stock (for a milder tasting sauce)
  • 1/8 tsp chopped pine nuts (for a richer tasting sauce)
  • dash of dried red pepper powder (gochookaroo 고추가루 for more zing)
  • dash of crushed roasted sesame seeds
  • 1/8 tsp sugar

*  When adding pine nuts, it is best to not add other extra ingredients because the other extras (except for sugar) will overpower the taste of the pine nuts.

Use as dipping sauce for: all kinds of Jeon (hobahkjeon,zucchini fritters, fish jeon, beef jeon..), Mandoo(dumplings), and Twigim (Yache Twigim)

gyeojakanjang (soy sauce with yellow mustard)
spicy soy sauce with yellow mustard(Gyeojakanjang 겨자간장)

#2 Sauce – Spicy Soy Sauce with Yellow Mustard(Gyeojakanjang 겨자간장)

  • 2 Tbs Soy Sauce (Jinkanjang 진간장)
  • 1 Tbs Vinegar (rice or white)
  • 1 Tbs Oriental Yellow Mustard (Gyeoja 겨자)

Optional Extras

  • 1 Tbs water or anchovy stock
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 green onion (chopped)

*  Making yellow mustard from powder : mix equal amount of yellow mustard powder and warm water. Cover the mustard mix with plastic wrap and keep it warm (in rice cooker or on top of a warm pot) for 15 min. You will notice that the hot spicy flavor and smell intensifies over time. Sometimes the yellow mustard can taste bitter – this is because the flavor has not developed properly (probably not the right temp or time). In this case, it’s just best to discard and make it again.

Use as dipping sauce for: Korean style sashimi (Hwe 회),  grilled fish or meats – the mustard is great in getting rid of any fishy or oily taste.

chogochoojang (sweet and sour red pepper paste)
sweet and sour red pepper paste (Chogochoojang 초고추장)

Sauce #3- Red pepper paste with Vinegar (Chogochoojang 초고추장)

  • 1 Tbs Korean red pepper paste
  • 1 Tbs vinegar (rice wine or white) or 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar

Optional extras:

  • 1 1/2 tsp honey/yuzu syrup/plum syrup(maesilchung)
  • dash of ginger powder or garlic powder
  • dash of black pepper
  • sesame seeds (1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tsp of cider or coke (to add extra zing right before serving)

Chogochoojang can be made in larger batches and stored in the refrigerator for several weeks or even longer. When making larger amounts, use a bit more vinegar or lemon juice to increase the storage life. Using lemon juice instead of vinegar will work better with fish dishes.

Use as dipping sauce for: boiled squid, raw seafood (oyster, abalone, sashimi, squid), boiled vegetables(green onions, broccoli)

With some modifications, it can also serve as the base for mixing sauce for Bibim Kooksoo (비빔국수) or Sashimi Rice (Hwe Deopbap 회덮밥).

Happy Dipping!

Soy maple glazed anchovies (멸치 볶음 Myulchi Bokkeum)

soy glazed anchovies with peppers
soy glazed anchovies with peppers
soy glazed anchovies with peppers

I am actually best known for my Myulchi Bokkeum among my friends and family. And it’s probably one of the dish I make the most. So I’m not sure why I haven’t posted this before…I guess I really didn’t think that it was anything special..but then recently eating at a restaurant, I realized how the taste can vary from the ones that are really bland,  to the ones that have the perfect balance of salty and sweet and then the ones that are just overloaded with spice and garlic – making it hard for you to really taste the anchovy at all.  Also in terms of texture,  it can be too wet and mushy or too hard and gummy – missing the perfectly chewy and crispy range in the middle. Of course, there is the wet version (Jorim)  which is supposed to be very soft but we are talking about the dry version here which is called bokkeum (볶음) and that is all about having the right amount of crispness without it being too hard.

Nutrition: Because you eat these anchovies whole including the bones, they are loaded in calcium. My husband says that this is how he was able to grow tall even though he hardly drank any milk while growing up. Myulchi is also a good source of DHA which is an important nutrient for the brain. So you can see that myulchi bokkeum is really one of the most nutritious lunchbox (doshirak) banchan you can make for your child. And most likely, your child will love the taste of it, so give this a try!

Print Recipe

 

Servings: 3-4                                       Cooking Time: 15 min                                     Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 C small dried anchovies for stir fry (볶음 bokkeum)
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 pc of ginger slice (1/4 in thick)
  • 2 shishito/green chili peppers (optional)
  • for the glaze
    • 1 T soy sauce
    • 1 T sugar
    • 1 T sake or rice wine
    • 1 tsp water
    • sesame seeds
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp maple syrup or rice syrup or malt syrup
    • 1/4 tsp sesame oil

Directions

1. Try to buy good quality dried anchovies (마른 멸치 mareun myulchi). They should not be too dry (it should still be somewhat soft and not hard). If the anchovies are really dry it means it’s too old. The best way to judge the quality is to taste them – they should be still soft, chewy and taste not too salty but meaty and even a bit sweet. Here’s a pic of some good quality myulchi and their varying sizes. All these three sizes are good for making myulchi bokkeum.

different sizes of dried anchovies
different sizes of dried anchovies

Anything bigger, it is really not fit to be eaten whole since the innards taste quite bitter. Some people may even say that the bigger size at top left is too big. But if you take off the head along with the gut from the anchovy, you can enjoy a more meaty mulychi bokkeum. Below is a photo that shows how you can take out the gut and the head – hold the head with one hand and twist it off gently and most likely the gut will come off with the head.

gutted anchovies
gutted anchovy (top right)

2. Prepare the glaze –  in a bowl, add soy sauce, sugar, sake, water, and sesame seeds. Set aside. Cut shishito peppers into bite size pieces.

ingredients for myulchi bokkeum
ingredients for myulchi bokkeum

3. On medium high heat and brown ginger in oil (2 min or so) until brown. The essence of ginger will get infused into the oil which will take away any fishy smell from the anchovies.

ginger in oil
ginger in oil
myulchi saute
myulchi saute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Add dried anchovies and sliced peppers to the hot ginger oil and saute for 3-4 minutes until they are slightly browned. This step is very important. Make sure you saute enough until the anchovies are well browned before going to the next step.

5. Lower the heat and add the soy sauce glaze to the pan. Stir for about 2 min. until the anchovies are evenly glazed with the sauce.  Drizzle the maple syrup and stir for another 1 – 2 min until the anchovies are well coated and has a sheen to them. Turn off the heat. Finish the dish by drizzling some sesame oil.

myulchi bokkeum
myulchi bokkeum

Serving Suggestions

Myulchi Bokkeum is really one of the most basic banchan in a classic Korean meal. It is a great item in children’s lunchboxes and also in ssam (try this instead of pike mackerel or bulgogi in a ssam). Also great with various soups – both spicy and savory/mild flavors.

Storage

Most markets will store these in the fridge but it tastes best when it is kept at room temperature. It will stay fresh for days to even a week at room temperature due to its salt and sugar content.

Variations

Make a spicier version by reducing soy sauce to 1/2 T and adding 1/2 ~ 1 T gochujang. The recent trend is to add nuts such as walnuts, sliced almonds and peanuts when making myulchi bokkeum so it’s something worth trying if you like nuts.