Friday, November 30, 2012

Kimcheelious Treats for the Holidays

Holiday entertainment season is here and by popular request, I will be selling two Kimcheelicious appetizers for December: Spicy Gochucaccia Bread and Kimchee and Mushroom Filo Triangles made with Asiago Cheese. The bite-szie filo triangles have especially been a huge hit. They’re frozen in foil so that you can serve them fresh for when your guests arrive. Both serve perfectly at room temperature for up to an hour... if they even last the first ten minutes. These are available for purchase within a three mile radius of our 11238 zip code here in Brooklyn.

To place your order email (Subject: Feed Me!) and specify details. Read more! Orders wil be ready for distribution on Friday December 7, 2012.

Eastern Spice Meets Rustic West in a Korean-Italian Pastry

East meets west on this Korean-Italian bread—brushed with tangy Korean chili paste (gochuchang) and olive oil.

This kimchee crust is a must.
I’ve perfected the kimchee crust—rustic, toothsome and crisp with each bite! This Korean-inspired focaccia is brushed lightly with EVO and a tangy vegan gochuchang. It’s topped with shaved onions, sweet red pepper, sesame seeds, Italian herbs, a light dusting of Romano cheese and minced soprrassata; vegan option of crumbled smoked tofu on request. Although spice the builds slowly to a mild heat it’s not for those with a light palate. These are sold frozen in foil. Unwrap and bake at 500°F and in 25 minutes the will hear the gates of heaven open.

8" Rustic Rounds: $9 each
Specify for vegan option.

Light and Flaky with a Deep Savory Flavor

Wrapped in buttery layers of flaky Greek filo dough with a tangy vegetarian kimchee filling that will please everyone
You just can’t have one.
Who knew the umami bomb would be so small? Each three inch triangle is made with a savory filling of ground mushrooms, fermented vegan radish kimchee (kkakdugi), sharp Asiago cheese and fragrant spices. These are sold frozen in foil packs to ensure that they are fresh and flaky on the outside and moist and tangy on the inside. Bake the foil packs at 450°F for 12 minutes for a piquant buttery treat. Warning: leave some for your guests.

3" Filo Triangles
Qt. 20: $20 a pack
Qt. 10: $10 a pack
These are vegetarian, but not vegan.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Baby NOT-opus in Chili Paste

If you look closely at this beady-eyed brood, they are not as they seem.

Octopi are considered to be intelligent creatures, so for some their consumption as food is controversial. As our global climate changes, the fear of hunting them into extinction is quite real. It makes it ever more difficult that baby octopi are particularly delicious. A popular Asian seafood dish is stir-fried baby octopus (ojinguh bokkeum), marinated in Korean chili paste (gochuchang) and garlic overnight. It’s a dish that can serve to make a guilty conscience grow heavier.

A clever kitchen gadget gone for good?
I found a solution to the matter with a clever kitchen gadget known as the OctoDog Frankfurter Converter. But alas, I’ve since found that this handy kitchen gadget is no longer in production—yet another victim has fallen to extinction in this unstable economy. I was advised to bid on eBay if I really wanted one but the competition seems fierce. I couldn’t bare to see the OctoDog go the way of the Dodo and Hostess Brands Snowballs, so instead I came up with my own home-spun solution.

The solution at hand
Make a Baby Not-opus
First I cut the dog in half to make two pieces. I plunge a knife about an inch from the end and make lengthwise slice towards the cut end, then roll it 90° over make another lengthwise slice to create four legs. I stand the dog upwards with all four legs evenly splayed out, then cut each leg lengthwise again to make a total of eight legs. And there we have it, a baby Not-opus.

Marinate for 30 minutes in Korean chili paste, crushed garlic, liquid smoke and a little rice wine vinegar. Fry them up on medium flame in a non-stsick frying pan. The legs curl upwards as they cook. Stir them around gently until they slightly caramelize, remove from the pan and serve on a seasoned rice cake or a bed of mac ‘n’ cheese. Note, I’ve never grilled one of these critters. I hear this works equally well with tofu dogs, but one has never strayed through this kitchen. Yet frankurters themselves remain a bit controversial to some—made from parts of the cow that have never seen a kitchen table. We’re advised to buy the eat the better brands in moderation or exclude them completely from our diets. But as my freinds Lisa and Scott say about their daughter Ivy, “Look, she’s actually eating something!”

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Ugly Dumpling

This curious little fella might look appetizing to some, but to a trained eye he foretells of bad things that lie ahead.

Faux pork made with fried tofu skins
I'm working on the filling for my kimchee tofu dumplings. I hate to call it faux pork, but it’s as close as I can describe the flavor and texture. It’s made from fried tofu skins, Napa cabbage kimcheee (baechu) and a few other ingredients to balance the flavor. One of my Kickstarter investor rewards is a pictorial guide to folding six types of dumplings using round and square wrappers. This guide includes a few recipes for vegan filling. This mandu how-to has sprouted legs but should be finished very soon.

There’s a funny logic to numbers that is universal to Asian culture. Just as Americans have no thirteenth floor, Asians do not have a fourth floor. The number four, shi, is synonymous with death—an ominously unlucky word. I have a theory that this is why most Asians seize up at a four-way traffic stop. One would never serve a guest mandu or gyoza (crescent dumpling) with four folds unless they meant business... bad business. For that matter seven or nine folds are equally unlucky, they open “the gates of hell.”

The luckiest Asian number is eight and multiples thereof (24, 40, 88, 888, etc.) are exponentially lucky. Back to dumpling logic, five or six folds are OK but if you were skilled enough to make eight or ten folds even better. But what about numbers two and three? On their own they are considered neutral. But when multiplied with other numbers they exemplify good or bad luck. So if you’re not at all superstitious, eat through that dim sum breakfast like a war horse, but pray that the bathroom stalls are clean. This batch of vegan kimchee tofu dumplings is deep fried and ready for a test drive with vegetarian friend, Shuhei.

Now that’s one lucky dumpling. Eight well formed folds bring good luck and good eating to the table.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Relishing a Summer Moment

These dogs are dressed for summer with sweet Napa cabbage kimchee relish and freshly fermented cucumbers.
Kimchee relish is summer in a jar.
The summers gone and the last of the silver linden leaves barely cling to the trees. According to Farmers’ Almanac, New York is due for a long, cold, spell. As the days grow short, I miss the long afternoons and the taste of charcoal grilled food, sun ripened tomatoes, potato salad and fresh corn. Every year since 2004 I’ve hosted summer Bar-B-Qs at Freddy’s Bar, along with by buddy Pat O’Shea.

Is there anything more American than a casual backyard gathering around a Smokey Joe? There might be, but it probably doesn’t involve kimchee relish. I make sure there’s plenty on hand. It’s so good that it reanimates dry veggie burgers and makes rubber tofu dogs edible. It pairs well with wasabi mayonnaise or brown Polish mustard. I usually bring a few 16 oz jars to summer grill gatherings, and I always leave with empty jars and requests. I don’t have a formal recipe written down, but it’s not hard to assemble. It’s tart, sweet and mildly spiced with a crisp texture.

Here are a few things I always include: minced kimchee, Korean chili paste (gochuchang), chopped onion, orange marmalade, Jamaican curry, grated ginger, dried currents golden rasins, and green or red bell pepper; ingredients vary by what I have in the kitchen. The trick is set the jar(s) out at room temperature for three days before storing cold. This allows flavors to bloom and meld. An ice-cold libation inspires great conversation on a sultry afternoon, but a generous helping of Napa cabbage kimchee relish leaves a lasting impression well into fall.Although our sultrier months in the Northeast are relatively short, I can always relish the memory of a summer by the grill with friends when I open a jar.

Soft lightly toasted  potato rolls—this is what separates the kimchee dog from the other animals.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fire in the Hole! Cooking with Kimchee

Whole quartered heads of Napa cabbage (pogi) take longer to ferment but yield kimchee with more character and flavor.
A variety of fermented Korean radish
Mak kimchee is for casual dining.
Over the course of this eCookbook project I’ve made many varieties and more kimchee than a Korean grandmother at a family reunion: whole-head (pogi baechu), mixed salad (mak baechu), non-spicy (baek baechu), fermented radish (kkakdugi), stuffed cucumber (oi sobagi), radish (bunhong mu) .... green papaya, watermelon rind.... etc. Kimchee is a semi-raw fermented food that’s rich in vitamins and beneficial microbes (probiotics... there I said it). FYI, traditional kimchee is not vegetarian since most varieties employ fermented fish sauce and in some cases beef marrow. Chitin and amino acids are essential to achieving a deep umami flavor. Although I’m not a vegan the version of kimchee that I make actually is. I get a skin reaction from shellfish. The source of chitin in my kimchee comes from shiitake mushrooms, miso and dried seaweed.

Napa cabbage kimchee, ready to serve
But what does one do after fermenting that much kimchee? Weaponize it? Cook with it? Heating above body temperature or freezing will most certainly kill lactic acid bacteria (LAB). But according to Austin-based nutritionist, Holly L’Italien  (Merrit Wellness Center) most of vitamins A and C in kimchee are still viable along with trace minerals such as zinc, magnesium and potassium. Vitamin B completely disappears.

Kimchee has a bold, piquant flavor that complements most savory meals. Oddly enough its notorious pungent aroma mellows after long and slow cooking, but sometimes the spice tends to build and sneak up on you. For optimal nutrition, she recommends adding fresh kimchee towards the end of your cooking time (in soups and stews), making it into a sweet relish, or eating it as a freshly fermented condiment along side with your regular meals. Sugar as a polymer actually coats and protects LAB and its spores and prevents them from dessication. For a healthy treat Holly recommended a kimchee cheddar cheese ball with walnuts.

It’s debatable if flash frying destroys all nutrients in kimchee (frying temp 375°F). But who doesn’t like Korean fried chicken marinated in fermented chili paste or fried wontons? In theory a dipping sauce made with kimchee juice would remedy that. The juice formed in fermentation is rich in nutrients. Although lately it’s sold a health tonic, I refine and use it as a marinade, cooking liquid or as a fermentation starter. I like using minced kimchee as an ingredient in meatloaf or in my favorite go-to meal, Korean fried rice topped with a fried egg.

K.I.K.O., Kimchee In Kimchee Out—these jars of Napa cabbage kimchee are near the end of their rotation of four weeks.

Hanguk Saffron
Buttermilk Kimchee Baicuits
After many long discussions and test batches, Ms. L’Italien helped me develop a powdered kimchee seasoning that I call Hanguk Saffron. After dehydrating kimchee at a low temperature I mill it into a powder and adjust the flavor before storing in air tight foil packets. It retains most of the vitamins and minerals at this low drying temperature. I have to admit that powdered kimchee is not a new idea. But the commercial grade of this powder is rather course and always slightly bitter. It’s made from the dried scrapings of the fermenting jar (ongi). Mainly used as a flavor additive for instant soups, it has enough MSG to choke a horse. I wanted to create something more refined that I could use as an ingredient in baked goods, fresh pasta or as a seasoning for meat and vegetables. My Hanguk Saffron has a deep savory flavor that’s tangy with a mild heat. I it use to make kimchee butter for my buttermilk biscuits and I also as a dry rub for my smothered kimchee pork chops. It blends well in soups and stews and imparts a lovely peach color. Can one ever have enough kimchee? Probably not, which is why you should make it yourself or move in with a Korean family.

Smothered kimchee pork chops with maple kimchee relish—America’s Southern cuisine meets South Korea on this plate.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Crust is Key to Kimchee Pizza

Kimchee Pizza topped with cured sausage, onion, red bell pepper and Napa cabbage kimchee (baechu)

You can’t swing a brick without hitting a good pie in Brooklyn. I’ve been working on my Kimchee Pizza recipe, I like a crust that bites back. I’ve played around with store bought crust, puff pastry and a few recipes, but this no-rise version works well. It’s very crisp and firm, not doughy at all. I added minced fermented radish kimchee (kkakdugi) and kimchee juice to the dough and it took a flying departure from the everyday slice. Here’s a preview of my dough recipe in progress.

Kimchee Crust
  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup fermented radish kimchee (kkakdugi), finely minced
  • 1 cup water, chilled
  • 1/2 kimchee juice, chilled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
In  large bowl, mix flour, yeast and salt with a whisk and refrigerate for an hour. Add water, kimchee juice, kkakdugi and oil and mix until the dough comes together. If it sticks to the bowl add 1 tbsp of olive oil and mix again. On a floured board knead dough five times. Form a ball cover with a moist dish towel and let it rest for ten minutes. Gently roll out five or six pieces. Lightly flour and place in a covered container. Brush (or spray) with a little olive oil and refrigerate over night. Before making pizza, let the dough rest at room temp for an hour.

The usual toppings and kimchee
More dents... more crunch
I used the usual pizza topping: sausage, onions, bell peppers, provolone cheese...etc. and of course Napa cabbage kimchee. I also added some Korean chili paste (gochuchang) to the sauce to make this kimchee pizza tangy and spicy. I even made a vegetarin version with tofu. It was a vast improvement to those sloppy bell pepper and onion pizzas. Preheat oven to 550°F. A baking stone helps distribute the heat evenly. By happy accident, I found that placing a baking sheet at the bottom of the oven has a similar effect. I forgot to remove it from the oven. On a lightly floured board gently press dough into rounds by hand making lots of dents with your fingers. The dents give the crust more crunch. Brush with olive oil and lightly sauce the dough. Use your favorite toppings and provolone cheese, then add more sauce. Transfer pizza to an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (middle rack) or until the cheese melts evenly without browning. Slice into even pieces and serve hot!

These bad boys are ready for the oven. Are you ready for the crunch of a spicy, tangy kimchee pizza?

Stock Up on Your Soup Stock

Hot ramen soup with Nana cabbage kimchee, green tea noodles, corn and shiitake msuhrooms

Home made turkey stock
Hot soup on a cold night warms the soul—make some kimchee ramen for dinner. The soup is eponymous of the type of Japanese wheat noodle. But the key to making this soup starts with a rich, thick stock; and of course some solid Napa cabbage kimchee (baechu). The difference between stock and broth is that stock is made with bones and skin and requires long slow simmering. Broth is made from meat or vegetables.

Here’s a good use for the massive remains of your Thanksgiving turkey—make your own golden, thick, rich soup stock. This beats the store bought variety any day. After long simmering and cooling I can literally stand a fork in my stock. It’s not hard to make but it’s one of those things you do if you’re home all day. You’ll need some equipment: 2 large stock pots; one for cooking and one for straining the liquid. You’ll also need something else to do for about five or six hours (i.e. organize your Netflix cue, paint the bathroom). You’ll also need some vegetables for flavor. I make soup stock often so I keep a bag of vegetables scraps in the freezer with most everything except for potatoes.

Turkey Stock
Stock after four hours of simmering
  • 2 large stock pots (16 qt or 5 gallon capacity)
  • a large colander
  • a large wire mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth
  • leftover turkey carcass (bones, skin, wings and all)
  • one large onion, quartered (include the skin)
  • 2 cups each, roughly chopped: carrots and celery
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp whole pepper corns (optional)
Heat olive oil in a large stock pot and add chopped celery, carrots, onion, bay leaves, pepper corns and salt. Cook until the celery is wilted. Cut turkey body into smaller pieces (quarter sections). Add this and the other leftover turkey parts to the stock pot. Now add enough water until it sits about 3" below the rim of the pot. Turn up the heat and bring the pot to a boil (it takes about an hour for something this size). Cover and boil for about 10  minutes and then lower heat to simmer.

Now here’s the part where you start painting the bathroom or watch The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (extended Blu-ray cut). Simmer your stock for about four hours... yes, FOUR whole hours... stirring occasionally with a long wooden spoon. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit, or you can live dangerously and strain hot. Joking aside, hot liquid strains more efficiently than cooler liquid, but be careful and do wear some protective gear.

Place a colander over the second large pot and carefully strain the contents of the first stock pot. Discard all the solids. Rinse out the the first pot and place a wire mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth over the top. Sieve the liquid from into the first pot and discard the cheese cloth. Return the pot to the range. Simmer uncovered until about 1/3 of the liquid remains. This should take another hour... so organize your Netflix cue. Cool, then pour your stock into a container and refrigerate over night. Your stock should be as thick as gelatin. This makes it easier to use. You can also freeze your stock into serving size containers for future meals, but leave an inch of air space to prevent contents from expanding.

Refrigerate your stock over night before using. It will be as thick as gelatin.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Golden Fried Kimchee Wontons

Fried kimchee dumplings made with Italian sausage and lean ground beef
On Thanksgiving morning I got up early and made 51 Golden Fried Kimchee Wontons for appetizers. Do fried dumplings go with Turkey and mashed potatoes? Of course they do. Most of all they travel and reheat well. Thanksgiving morning... the supermarket was low in the meat department, so I used Italian sausage instead of ground pork to mix in with the ground beef and fermented radish kimchee (kkadugi). Along with fresh ginger, scallion, garlic and a few other spices, the filling came together in about five minutes. Dumplings always need a little fat, even if they are vegetarian. Otherwise they quickly turn into rubber bullets after frying or steaming.

Frozen dumplings for soup
Commercially pre-made wrappers come in frozen packs of 50 and once they are defrosted they’re only usable for a about a week. It only makes sense to make a large batch to freeze for future use. Fresh dumplings (not cooked) freeze well and can be kept for up to three months. They make for a quick meal when you’re on the go.

The trick is to freeze them individually first. I freeze freshly made dumplings on a cutting board for about an hour, making sure that none of them touch. Then I wrap batches of ten in foil and store them in a large freezer bag. This way they don’t freeze into an unbreakable boulder of pot stickers and you can use what you need. There’s no need to defrost, frozen dumplings fry up in about four minutes. Drain them well and serve them hot topped with toasted sesame seeds and minced scallions. Make a few dipping sauces like ginger soy sauce, sriracha (Rooster chili sauce) and ketchup, or honey mustard... etc. If you plan to steam them or use them in soup, let them thaw for about ten minutes before cooking for twelve minutes.

A variety of traditional dumplings with a ginger garlic dipping sauce

Monday, November 19, 2012

Kimchee and Mushroom Filo Triangles with Asiago

These little guys deliver a solid savory punch: Kimchee and Mushroom Filo Triangles with Asiago. The filling is made with a variety of mushrooms, fermented radish kimchee (kkakdugi), leeks and red bell pepper, but the Asiago cheese is what brings balance to the spice and tang.

I only have two words about working with filo dough: work quickly! They have to be made in small batches. Each piece is carefully folded in filo dough, brushed with melted butter then dusted lightly with Hanguk Saffron (my powdered kimchee seasoning). I’ve sold a few special orders for Thanksgiving appetizers (around 240 pieces total). These were made ahead and frozen in foil. At 500°F they bake quickly into light, flaky, piquant pastries. One person wrote me that she had already eaten most of them: “...popped out of the oven in about 7 minutes, and by minute 9, one tray was gone...” Luckily she has 30 more.