Sunday, September 28, 2014

Recipe: Thai Chive Cakes

Asian chives (allium tuberosum)
Known as buchu to Koreans, katsay to Chinese and ichay to Filipinos, Asian chives are indispensable to a variety of Eastern dishes—dumplings, soups, sauces and preserved foods to name a few. When eaten raw they are slightly sweet and mild, but when cooked or used in fermentation their flavor and fragrance intensifies. They are different from the standard Western variety. They are grown for their flat, strappy leaves which are less pungent as others from the onion family. You’ll find these chives in bundles at Asian markets.

They are the main ingredient in Thai Chive Cakes (kanom gui chai), a steamed or pan-fried rice cake that is traditionally made as a vegan snack. I like them pan-fried—crisp light crust, slightly chewy inside with a sweet chive explosion in every bite. These chive cakes are different from the Chinese chive dumplings—which are stuffed in a flour wrapper with shrimp or pork. You might never makes this recipe, but it’s good to get familiar with this traditional technique; Thai Chive Cakes are a bit of work, but worth the all the effort.

Washing them is the first step; since Asian chives are harvested low to the ground they tend to be gritty. Use a rubber band to secured the base, spread the top of the bunch out and run them under the tap for a minute while shaking them. Remove any wilted or bruised leaves and gently shake the rest of the water out; hang them to drip-dry for about 30 minutes. Chives will keep refrigerated for about five days wrapped in a moist paper towel. Enough yapping, let’s make some Thai chive cakes.

Thai Chive Cakes (kanom gui chai)
  • 3/4 lb (roughly 2 1/4 cups) Chinese chives, sliced into 1/4" pieces
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup white rice flour (not sweet rice flour)
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp high-heat oil for sauteing and enough for pan-frying
  • 8" X 8" X 2" baking pan or a 
  • a pot big enough for the baking pan
  • collapsible steamer 
  • 10" skillet for frying
Ginger-garlic Dipping Sauce
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp sliced scallions
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Here’s an easy way to chop chives: bundle chives with rubber bands 2" in from the top and base of the bunch. Starting from the top, slice the bundle crosswise with a sharp knife making 1/4" cuts until you reach the rubber band. Reposition the rubber band 2" down toward the base and slice. Repeat until you reach the band at the base of the bundle. Discard the last 2", it’s usually to fibrous for cooking.

Mix the dipping sauce and set aside until you’re ready to serve. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet. SautĂ© minced garlic and chives with 1/2 teaspoon salt until the chives are wilted. Transfer to a cutting board to cool down then squeeze out most to the remaining moisture with your hands; it’s important to remove as much moisture as you can. Make the batter: in a large bowl add, mix rice flour, tapioca starch, remaining salt and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Whisk in cold water and add chive mix until everything is evenly incorporated.

Steaming: Add water to a depth of 1 1/2" and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, unfold steamer and set into the pot of water. Grease baking pan with oil, pour in chive batter, set into the pot and cover. If you don’t have one of these fold-out steam things... just rest the baking pan onto a low metal bowl. Steam for about 30 to 40 minutes maintaining at least an inch of water in the pot. The batter will turn slightly translucent when fully cooked. Check the center with a toothpick to make sure it’s fully cooked. Remove from the pot and allow chive cake to cool completely, roughly an hour.

Flip cake out of the baking pan onto a cutting board. With a sharp knife cut the chive cake into 16 two-inch squares. Wetting the knife between cuts makes slicing easier. You can serve these steamed chive cakes at room temp with a dipping sauce or pan-fry them for a crisp texture.

Pan-frying: Pour oil into the skillet to a depth of 1/4" and bring pan to medium heat. When the oil is hot (375°) place chive cake squares into the pan. Fry three at a time for four minutes on each side, or until they are golden and crisp; do not crowd the pan. Drain chive cakes on a paper towel and serve with dipping sauce.

Making Them in Advance: Thai chive cakes can be quite a task. It’s worth the effort to make larger batches for future meals. Steamed chive cakes freeze well wrapped individually in wax paper. Thaw them before pan-frying. Pan-fried chive cakes are best reheated in the oven (375°F).

Friday, September 19, 2014

Shop Kimcheelicious @ Court Square Flea!

HELLO QUEENS! Saturday afternoon Sept. 20, Kimcheelicious will be vending at the Court Square Flea in Long Island City, kiosk #7. It’s an easy ride on the 7, G, M and E trains. Our fine-aged foods are vegan, gluten-free and tasty as all get-out! Tastings are free while supplies last. We’ll have Napa Cabbage Kimchee and Fermented Korean Radish:
  • 15 oz vac-packs: $8 each or two for $15. 
  • 15 o jars: $10
Outdoor Lot of Local 808
22-43 Jackson Ave
LIC, NY 11101

Saturday, September 20, from noon to 6PM

(Find Kimcheelicious at Kiosk #7)

For more information on location and trains, visit their website:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Buy Our Kimchee at Bad Ass Brooklyn Animal Rescue Fall Festival!

Sunday afternoon Sept. 14, Kimcheelicious and many other gluten-free vendors will be at the The Bad Ass Fall Festival in Gowanus at the The Gluten-free EatUP kiosk. Take it to the streets for a good cause and some sweet and savory gluten-free delights! Kimcheelicous will be selling our NEW 15 oz. vac-bags of fine-aged Napa Cabbage Kimchee—$8 each or two for $15. Our fine-aged goods are vegan, gluten-free and tasty as all get-out! Tastings are free while supplies last.

Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue is a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing, fostering and rehabilitating dogs from kill shelters in Brooklyn. They find these sweet little guys and gals new homed through a network of volunteers, coordinators and adoption events. Get involved and read more about Bad Ass, click here:

Levine’s General Store:  Yum Pies! hot tasty savory empanadas.
Kimcheelicious: vegan kimchee vac-sealed packs!
Gone Pie: vegan and GF baked goods and pies!
Polvilho Bakery: baked Brazilian snacks, addictive and crunchy.
Lezettli Turkish Ice Cream: sweet goat milk ice cream, NOT to be missed.
Smart Snack Bites: baked goods, truffles, confections with an Indian flare.
Krumville Bake Shop: Italian-inspired baked goods, the best GF focaccia you’ll ever have.

Levine’s General Store is a purveyor of gluten-free goods. LGS and Kimcheelicious host the Gluten-free EatUP, a pop-up market dedicated to bringing these specialty food makers to the people who need it most. Learn more:

Animal rescue, music, food, fun and of course kimchee. Swing on by and check us out. Join us and read more about it here:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Non-recipe: Cold Kimchee-Sesame Noodles!

Chill out—cold kimchee-sesame green tea noodles and everything else from the fridge

Considering that a good portion of our country is going through devastating drought conditions, I shouldn’t complain about these few days that have been above 90°F in New York. Maybe I should be thankful; it inspired this jaw-dropping delicious dinner: cold kimchee-sesame green tea noodles with steamed carrots and yellow squash, diced chicken and Napa cabbage kimchee. These are all leftovers from this weeks meals. The only thing I made was the sesame sauce with just a little help from kimchee juice. This is not a real recipe, this is more of a serving suggestion inspired by humid, high temperature days and two cups of leftover green tea noodles. I wrote a more detailed recipe for the Kimcheelicous ePUB cookbook (out soon). Make it for Sunday dinner!

Make a quick sesame sauce with 3 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp kimchee juice, 1 tsp vinegar, 1/2 tsp honey, 1 clove garlic (minced), 3 tbsp sesame paste (tahini) and a pinch of black pepper. If you don’t have any sesame paste, use creamy peanut butter and little roasted sesame seed oil instead. Mix well and toss 2 cups of noodles with the sauce. If your noodles are clumped together  just give them a quick rinse under cold water and drain before tossing. Stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes before serving. For you celiac peeps, use a good gluten-free pasta and check your brand of peanut butter.

Kicmhee juice gives these cold, creamy noodles a spicy tart kick. It make the perfect foil for all your refrigerated bits and pieces: salad greens, asparagus, carrots, cucumbers, boiled potatoes, fennel greens, avocado, green beans, tofu, ham, crumbled bacon, deli turkey, shredded chicken... you get the picture. Serve with toasted sesame seeds, chives and Napa cabbage kimchee.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Punking a Facebook Spammer

People from Guam, Hawaii and Korean all adore Spam, that post-war meat in a can sold by the case. Spam fried rice, Spam kelaguĂ©n, Spam and kidney bean stew, spam-spam-spam-spam-spammity-spam—yet there’s da kine spam that no one wants. This morning I received a FB message from a hacker in guise as an old friend from Tomhom, Guam. He told me to sign up to pick up my winnings by friending a dubious FB claim agent. When you grow up with fermented foods, you tend to know when something does not smell right. Knowing that an old friend and fellow islander would never first address me in English, I thought I’d have a little fun the with this spammer.

Me: "Hafa adai Dennis, how you been?"

Hacker: "Am doing pretty well thanks,Hope all is well with you over there?, I wonder if you ever heard about the good news said on news some months ago was a reality yet?"
Me: "Uh, I'm not pregnant... what good news?"
Hacker: "About the promotion which was made to some facebook users for them to benefit in the $50,000 giving out by the Facebook Lottery Team to some randomly selected profiles?"
Me: "Sounds like a scam"
Hacker: "Oh No it is not a scam its for real legal and legitimate and not hoax,I got mine already, so is some of my friends which heard the news too, I know you would have received yours too, because I saw your name on the winners list when the Delivery Agent came to my home, or haven't you?"
Me: "Nope, Dennis is this really you?"

Hacker: "Yes this is me and not gimmick,maybe you should add the claim agent online and message him that you want to claim your winning."
Me: "mmmm well there's been many hacker scams here and I've received a few.... sa siempre... kuentas chamorro palabras pot guaha...[as always... speak Chamorro with me...]"
[then nothing]
Me: "hafa taya? [what, nothing?]"

The moral of this story is that it’s good to know a language that’s not available on Google Translate. Biba, si toatoan Chamorro! [To Life! Chamorro peeps!] The End.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Recipe: Watermelon Rind Kimchee

Labor Day cookouts and Halloween themed stores tell us that fall’s cool kiss is nigh and our warm summers days are fleeting. But here’s a way to extend some of that summer flavor—make watermelon rind kimchee. It’s prepared similarly to cucumber kimchee (oi kimchee) but as where fermented cucumbers have a shorter life span (five days), watermelon rind will keep a firm texture for about a month in the refrigerator.

The rind itself is not very digestible at first; peeling and salting help break down some of the fiber, which then allows lactic acid bacteria to do a more efficient job of fermentation after which you’ll have a firm yet tender texture. It very juicy, tart and spicy—infused with garlic, ginger and Korean chili. It goes so well with meats and vegetables. I like it along side my tuna or chicken salad sandwich. So what are you waiting for? Run out, get a watermelon and save that rind. If you’re not quite ready, you can keep the rind refrigerated for about a week in plastic bag.  make something that your family will enjoy at the table.

Watermelon Rind Kimchee
  • 4 cups water melon rind, peeled and sliced into 1" strips
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tsp sea salt 
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dried Korean chili flake (gochucaru)
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger, julienned into 1" matchsticks
  • 1 sheet of nori (gim in Korean)
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp toasted sesame seed (optional)
  • brine: 1 cup water + 1 tbsp sea salt
Prepare garlic, ginger and onion and set aside. Rinse rind and remove any dirt or sediment. With a vegetable peeler shave off the outer rind; remove and discard any bruised portions. Shave as much of the soft sweet pulp as possible as this does not ferment well. Slice rind into small strips that are roughly 1" long by 1/2" wide. In a large colander, sprinkle with 2 tsp sea salt, mix well and allow it to drain for one hour. Rinse lightly and drain for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl mix rind with 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup sea salt, sesame seed (optional), sliced garlic, ginger and onion. With a spatula mix with 1 cup dried Korean chili flake until all ingredients are evenly incorporated. Place nori sheet over the top, cover bowl with a paper towel and allow to rest at room temperature for three to four days. Taste daily—when it starts to sour, transfer to an air-tight container (large mason jar). Gently press contents down to remove air and force liquid to the top. Cover with brine to a depth of 1/2" over contents. Refrigerate for at least five days before serving.

Be sure to remove the nori from your serving portions; you can return it to the container or discard. This kimchee will keep optimal texture and flavor for roughly a month—after which it might be too soft to handle. For Hawaiian-style kimchee mix with crushed pineapple, prepared hijiki seaweed and a little toasted sesame oil when serving.