Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kimchee vs Oscar Night

The Kings County Fermentation Group meets for the first time tonight (Sun. Feb. 24)—on Oscar Night. We plan to meet at Freddy’s Bar at 7PM. I don’t expect a great turn out, but I’m bringing along some of my vegan mak kimchee and kkakdugi to share and maybe throw on my French fries if there’s any left.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pumpin' up the Panchan

If Korean food had the status of Japanese food in the mid 1980s it would’ve been called Nouvelle Panchan. Nouvelle cuisine philosophy dictated that small portions of intensely flavored food were artfully plated and serve as the main meal. In Korea this is referred to as “panchan” (or “banchan”): savory and sweet Korean side dishes. The difference is that many plates of panchan accompany the main meal: braised beef, bean spouts, roasted fish, soups and especially the many varieties of kimchee.

This is my Twice-fried Korean chicken from last night’s dinner. Why twice fry anything? When done correctly it makes food incredibly crisp and crunchy: French fries, vegetables, taters tots... chicken, etc. After dredging in starch, fry briefly (five minutes) and then set aside to drain and cool for 10 minutes. This steams the food and sets up the crust. The crust might seem a bit gooey and under-done, but the second frying creates a deep golden crust that stays crisp even at room temperature. I think the only thing I wouldn’t fry twice is bacon.

Although artfully presented, would I call “Still life with cold twice-fried Korean chicken and rice ball on kimchee” art? I just call this leftovers. It’s pretty enough (pretty tasty) and I wish there was more.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Inside the "The Outside In"

The Hudson Valley has called me and I must go. I’m preparing for a culinary journey—a tasting event called The Outside In Piermont Artisanal Food Bazaar in Piermont, NY. I’m very excited and honored to be one of the18 participating vendors at this taste-and-buy event. Although 12 jars of vegan Napa cabbage kimchee are currently in second fermentation, they are slated for dehydration to make my Hanguk Saffron.

Modeled after the successful Smorgasburg at the Brooklyn Flea, the intent of this event is to grow the businesses of aspiring food craft entrepreneurs by providing a compelling and unique venue to test new dishes, receive customer feedback and build a following. The OUTSIDE IN’s Artisan Food Bazaar will feature a diverse locally sourced selection of savory and sweet items for consumers including artisan and gluten free baked goods, craft beer, brewing supplies, organic spices, charcuterie, Peruvian tapas, crafted cheeses, unfiltered olive oil, soups, chicken pot pies, kimchee biscuits, small batch granola, handmade donuts, honey, fruit leathers, jams, micro-roast coffee and a mixologist created drink unique for the event called The “Bottom’s Up” Punch.

Line up peeps, Admission is free. I’ll have Nappa cabbage and fermented radish kimchee on hand for tasting along with my mini buttermilk kimchee biscuits. Project organizer Bill Walsh personally requested my biscuits as one of the items at my tasting table but the jewel in this crown is my Hnaguk Saffron, a powdered kimchee seasoning made from a blend of dehydrated kimchee, milled into a fine powder. I use it in baking and in pan fried foods. A local chef in Prospect Heights uses it in his salmon tartar. He calls it his magic bullet. Personally I use it in my baked goods, pan-seared dishes, dry rubs, soups and stews. Maybe investing in 1,000 foil packets wasn’t such a bad idea?

The Outside In Piermont Artisanal Food Bazar
Sunday March 17, 1013 from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

South of the Korean Border Brunch

It doesn’t have to be a weekend to have brunch. I made a spicy South of the Korean border meal, Huevos Koreanos—fried eggs and black bean chili with a generous sprinkle of Hanguk Saffron, served with Napa cabbage kimchee (beachu) and a brioche cheddar roll. I only with I had some bacon in the fridge.

This batch of kimchee is at its prime after fermenting for 6 weeks. Much like fine cheese and cured meats, microbes and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) have transformed this humble cabbage into a preserved food that’s tangy and spicy with a citrus high note and the deep savory flavor of garlic. Health benefits aside, this is what kimchee should be. Some might say that the aroma is too pungent for them even after only two weeks of fermentation... I say more for me.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Korean Braised Beef over Egg Noodles

Korean braised beef resting on a nest of buttered egg noodles and stewed carrots

Kimchee braised beef (changjorim) over buttered egg noodles make a quick lunch or dinner! The changjorim was braised long and slow, a method of cooking that’s perfect for lean cuts of meat like brisket or London Broil. You might say it’s like a Korean pot-roast. changjorim can store refrigerated for up to two weeks. We always keep pre-cooked egg noodles in the fridge for a quick and easy meal. I re-braised the beef in a little water and sauce from the changjorim along with sliced onions and sliced carrots. Setting the meat aside, I tossed the egg noodles in the braising liquid with butter, a little heavy cream then toasted them with sesame seeds before serving. Doesn’t everything look just right in a Russel Wright bowl?

Changjorim is going... going... gone.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

iKimchi Food Cart

iKimchi... you kimchee we all scream for kimchee!

“Kansa ham nida” I said. “You speak Korean?” The woman asked as she handed my lunch and chop sticks in a plastic bag. “No, but I speak the food fluently.” A while back Alex, the young man managing the orders told me that they just called themselves the Korean food cart at 24th street and Park. But now my favorite Korean food stand finally has a name, iKimchi! Their new menu is sleek, the price is right, the portions are very generous and most of all the food is very good.

I had to wait until my meeting was over and all I could think was “I hope they still have bulgogi when I get out.” They actually just started a fresh batch when I got there, short wait but worth the time. For $7 I treated myself to a hot Korean BBQ lunch box ($1 extra for miso soup). So if you find yourself short on time, wandering hungry around Park Avenue near 24th street, stop for a hot delicious meal at the iKimchi food cart. Be sure to ask for extra kimchee.

Bulgogi and rice platter with a small salad and a side of mild kimchee

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Kimchee Braised Beef and Eggs

Kimchee braised beef (changjorim) and hard boiled eggs are good hot or cold. I had it for lunch with Brussels sprouts. This traditional Korean dish is more akin to pot roast than it is to stew. Like many Asian dishes, braising in soy sauce tenderizes lean cuts of meat such as brisket and London broil and extends it’s gastronomic life span without (2 weeks) or without (3 days) refrigeration. I made this yesterday to serve through the week… that is, if there’s anything left by then. Two-inch thick cubes of London broil were braised for two and a half hours in soy sauce, kimchee juice, black pepper, sugar and garlic. The hard boiled eggs simmered in the same liquid in the last hour of cooking. This stuff is delicious but be warned, it is very salty. I think this would go well hot with egg noodles or even shredded in mayonnaise to make cold pulled beef sandwiches.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fab Eats with FABnyc

On Thursday evening, Feb. 7, Kimcheelicious and East Village eatery Mexicue participated in a tasting and food demonstration to help raise funds and awareness for Fourth Arts Block, an organization that develops and promotes food, art, and culture on Manhattan’s lower East Side. Attendance was at capacity, and all had a fab time noshing on New York fusion food. The staff at Bowery Whole Foods Culinary Center was incredible. They got us prepped and ready to go in record time.

On Thursday night’s tasting menu: kimchee chicken adobo empanadas in curry crust, twice-fried Korean chicken, kimchee buttermilk biscuits, spicy green chili mac ‘n’ cheese and smoked brisket sliders with guacamole and Mexicue’s house-made BBQ sauce.

A Kimcheelicious demonstration of kimchee making and home-fermentation basics

I just got back from a meeting in Long Island and arrived at Bowery Whole Foods at 3:30 PM to start prepping for the evening. Min Lao already had the room set up for the evening event and got all the ingredients ready and waiting for me in trays. Wai Chu (Bowery Culinary Center) rolled out and cut the empanada shells while I made the biscuit dough. With great synchronicity the empanadas were filled with the shredded adobo made the day before, fork-sealed and baked as the marinated chicken fried. What a team!

Soon people arrived and took their seats. Phoebe Stern welcomed the crowd and told them a bit about Fourth Arts Block and their continued developments at The East 4th Street Cultural District, FAB’s incubation center. FAB supports experimental performances and cutting-edge productions by providing free and low cost programs, and training and facilities for emerging artists from their East Village location.

Freshly cut Kimchee biscuits wait for the oven as hot batches twice-fried Korean chicken cool down.

Korean fried chicken is always a huge hit. It’s marinated in grated onion and Korean chili paste for a few hours, dusted in potato starch and twice-fried. The first frying seals the crust as the meat steams; the second frying makes each piece super crunchy. I served two types of kimchee with the fried chicken—Napa cabbage (baechu) and fermented Korean radish (kkakdugi). Both go so well with fried foods. I like them on Tater Tots or fries with melted cheddar cheese myself.

A crowd of East Village epicureans arrived hungry for fusion food and culinary know-how.

Min Loa and Wai Chu of Bowery Culinary Center get everything in shape before the crowd arrives.

A little Q & A for those who want to learn more about fermenting kimchee and cooking with it
Kimchee chicken adobo empanadas in curry crust and fresh, hot biscuits made with Korean chili paste

The adobo chicken is my mom’s recipe. Filipino adobo is different from the Mexican variety. More related to confit than stew, the chicken is slowly braised in rendered fat, vinegar and pungent spices. Although there are many versions of this dish, I think my mom’s is simple and tasty. I called home to Guam to get her secrets of this Filipino national dish... to which I found that she never measures anything. Vesta’s best advice was “Taste it.” She gave me the ingredients and talked me through the braising method. I figured out proportions and wrote down a working recipe. My innovation was adding refined kimchee juice and a little Korean chili to the braising liquid. I love chicken adobo, we used to make chicken salad spread with left-overs for school lunches and snacks.

The fabulous Phoebe Stern from Fourth Arts Block chats it up.
Thomas Kelly from Mexicue gave us a detailed demo of their green chili mac ‘n’ cheese—from green chili bechamel sauce to table. What a treat! I couldn’t wait for the smoked brisket sliders: shredded smoked beef topped with red slaw and guacamole. Mexicue started out as a food truck, then expanded into brick and mortar locations in Manhattan. They have a solid foot print in New York’s culinary landscape.

Thomas Kelly is the genius behind Mexicue's fusion menu... and he's a nice guy too.

Green chili mac 'n' cheese and smoked brisket sliders with guacamole, red slaw and Mexicue’s tangy BBQ sauce

The FAB five: Min Lao, Tony Limuaco, Wai Chu, Phoebe Stern and Thomas Kelly

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Black Bean Kim-chili

East meets Southwest in this bowl of chili made with kimchee

Kim-chili anyone? I entered the Super Bowl chili cook-off at Freddy’s Bar with my vegan black bean chili made with Napa cabbage kimchee (bauchu). The kimchee is partially dehydrated and pan seared at a low heat to create a meaty texture, and it also gives this chili a tangy bite. I soaked and stewed the beans separately so that they have their own flavor. Beans, kimchee, fresh Korean chili and poblano peppers are simmered in a sauce made from dried ancho, arbol, chipotle peppers and kimchee juice. This vegan chili is pretty tasty but I think it still needs a generous topping of sharp cheddar cheese and red onion.

I used a traditional Mexican chili sauce recipe, made purely by blending rehydrated dried chillies. When I was in college, my upstairs neighbor, Pablo made his from scratch every weekend. I remember the sweet aroma wafting down the stairs. This sauce is different from the Texano and Californian tomato-based sauces. Using dried ancho and arbol, he’d lightly toast them in a pan, removed the seeds, then simmer them for 20 minutes. He used his grand mother’s food mill to make a fine bright red paste. My adaption was to include dried chipotle peppers and puree the sauce in a blender. Let’s see if my kimchili wins first prize tonight.