Making Budae Jjigae (부대찌게) / Army Base Stew
It’s been a jjigae kind of week here, with all the downpour. Today is no different. Budae jjigae, or Korean army base stew, was an invention of necessity during and after the Korean war. People made this dish by combining leftover Spam and hot dogs from U.S. Army facilities (hence its other name, “Johnson tang”), and mixed it with whatever else that was available. All the ingredients were combined with water and red pepper seasoning in a large pot and boiled. Essentially, it’s a hot and spicy stew with one packet of ramen and a sliced of processed cheese slapped on top, with the seasoning packet chucked out and chock-filled with pseudo-healthy proteins and vegetables and shared between 2 or 3 people. Not very photogenic, but excellent for the nippy weather (and your wallet) and possibly a good hangover cure.
[ 3 cups low sodium chicken broth + 2 tablespoon gochujang + 2 teaspoon gochugaru + 1 teaspoon sesame oil + 1 teaspoon soy sauce + 2 garlic cloves, minced + 100g minced beef + 3-4 sausages, score lightly and slice into thirds + 150g tofu, sliced + 1 onion, sliced + 1 cup kimchi + 6 mushrooms, sliced + a handful of baby bok choy or other greens you like + a bunch of spring onions, chopped + 1 packet of Korean instant ramen + 1-2 slices of processed cheese + 1 tin baked beans (I’m using kidney beans) ] Note: I didn’t use Spam because there wasn’t a kosher alternative for one here. You can just add more sausages (which I did) if you like.
In a bowl, mix together the gochujang, gochugaru, sesame oil, soy sauce and minced garlic. Add in the minced beef and mix to combine, being careful not to mush up the beef too much.
Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan.
Arrange other ingredients except cheese and ramen in a wide, flat bottom saucepan, claypot or heatproof casserole dish. Put the gochujang beef mixture on top. Add the prepared soup base to the ingredients and bring stew to a boil over medium heat.
Reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Add the ramen (without the seasoning) to the stew. Simmer uncovered for another 3-5 minutes. Add cheese and simmer till cheese melts. Top with a sprinkle of chopped green onions, sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil.
Serve hot with rice (double carbin’ yo) and banchans.
Making Jjajang-myeon (짜장면) / Black Bean Sauce Noodles
Some days when I’m feeling upset, I like to make pickles and sauces. Frustrated? make a bottle of pesto. Depressed? pepper relish sounds good. Stressed out? make two pounds of kimchi. It gives another meaning to bottling up your feelings. I like to think that it’s much more lucrative than just brooding around indulging yourself.
A few days ago my paternal grandmother was hospitalized due to GI-tract bleeding. It’s been managed and she’s much better since, but I was home that day and felt helpless and ended up making two batches of Korean pickled radish - kkakdugi and danmooji. Add that to the lingering wad of kimchi and now I’m in a bit of a pickle. No one in this house is as big of a pickle enthusiast, so I’ll have to find a way to eat them all before I leave to Qatar in a few weeks. This is one of them. It’s a re-post but with a bit better pictures, methinks. Feel free to add minced chicken, beef or pork and fry them with the garlic in the cooking step below.
JJAJANG-MYEON (serves 2-3):
[ 1/2 cup diced carrots + 1 cup diced zucchini + 1 onion, diced + 1 cup peeled and diced potatoes + 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, any kind + 3 cloves of garlic + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil + 1/4 cup Chunjang (Korean black bean paste) + 1 1/2 cup water + 2 tablespoons cornflour dissolved in 1/4 cup water + 2 tablespoons sugar + 2 teaspoon sesame oil + noodles or spaghetti ] OPTIONAL: 1 teaspoon grated ginger.
Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute the garlic and ginger, if using, until fragrant. Add potato, onion, and zucchini and keep stirring until the potato looks a little translucent.
Clear a space in the center by pushing the ingredients to the edges.
Add the other tablespoon of vegetable oil to the center of the wok, then add the black bean paste and stir it with a wooden spoon for 1 minute to fry it. Mix the vegetables in the pan into the sauce and keep stirring.
Add water and let it cook with the lid closed for about 10 minutes. Open the lid check if the vegetables are fully cooked. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch. Keep stirring until it’s well mixed and thick. Add the sesame oil and remove from the heat.
Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the package. Warm the sauce if needed. Serve with hard boiled egg, cucumber strips and danmooji.
Making Kimchi Soondubu Jjigae (김치 순두부 찌개) / Kimchi Soft Tofu Stew
I would say that my kitchen is pretty well equipped. There’s a gas stove top, a toaster oven, a convection oven, a mixer, a blender and a juicer. I can’t, however, say the same about my tableware. If you look closely at all my recipe posts, you’d see that I’ve been using the same plates, cups and cutleries since three years ago.
So imagine my dismay when I found out that you need a stone dolsot or bowl to cook and serve this kimchi soft tofu stew in. I went to my cabinets in search of a black bowl to emulate the dolsot in photograph, but in vain.Instead I found a soup bowl that I haven’t used since the mac & cheese post
And I thought to myself:
Question: Is this big enough for one serving? Answer: Yes, plenty.
Question: Will it crack and break, sending shrapnels everywhere when heated over direct flame? Answer: Put it on and find out.
And so I did.
Note: If you’re planning to make this, I’d prefer it if you don’t take any chances and just use a saucepan. As it was, I kept my flame very low and I also heated up my stock, because the difference in temperature (hot clay pot, cold stock) was a possible recipe for disaster.
KIMCHI SOONDUBU JJIGAE / 김치 순두부 찌개 (serves 2):
[ 2 cups anchovy stock, water or any other stock + 1 11-ounce package soondubu (extra soft/silken tofu) + 1 cup sour kimchi + 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil + 6-8 shrimp + 2 teaspoon vegetable oil + 1 tablespoon gochujang ( Korean red pepper paste) + 2 tablespoon gochugaru (red chili pepper flakes) + 3 green onions + 2 cloves of garlic + 1 teaspoon soy sauce + 1 teaspoon sesame oil + 2 teaspoon sugar + 2 eggs ] Note: You can add any other vegetables (mushrooms, zucchini, onion, carrots etc) or protein (beef, pork, mussels etc) you like.
Roughly chop the kimchi and mince the garlic. Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan and saute the garlic until fragrant. Add the chopped kimchi, gochujang and gochugaru.
Add in the stock or water and bring to a boil. Add in the soft tofu and break into smaller pieces. Add in the sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar. Adjust to taste.
Add the shrimp and cook for another 2 - 3 minutes. Add the chopped scallion right before turning the heat off. Crack an egg into the stew right before serving while it’s still boiling hot.
Top with a drizzle more sesame oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Serve immediately with hot steamed rice.
Kimchi Pancakes, two ways.
A few days ago I must be possessed by the kimchi spirit because I made a buckload of kimchi. We’re talking two heads of Napa cabbage and three cups of gochugaru - ye much:
And now I’ve been challenged by the sister to eat kimchi for the rest of the month which in comparison should be a breeze than trying to eat daal for a whole month. I’ve got nothing against daal, but the lack of texture did make for a swift surrender.
I slightly modified the recipes from the great Korean food goddess with multicolored wigs, Maangchi. I watched the recipe video for this and got to the part where she was cutting the onion
and had a nasty flashback when I myself did the same thing and, um, forgot to move my thumb resulting in one of the worst cuts in the history of my kitchen escapades (worst than the time I cut myself with a serrated knife - them teeth!). So yeah, moral of the story - watch out for them appendages and thou shalt be rewarded with delicious, crispy and tangy pancakes. I served these with the onion pickles I made yesterday and used the pickling juice as the dipping sauce. To make the pickled onion, roughly chop a large onion and boil 1/3 cup each of vinegar, sugar and soy sauce. Put the onion in a jar and pour the boiled pickling juice over it and put the lid on. Leave at room temperature for a day before refrigerating until ready to use.
CHOPPED KIMCHI PANCAKES:
[ 1 cup chopped kimchi + 2 tablespoon chopped onion + 1/4 cup water + 3 tablespoon kimchi juice + 1/4 cup flour all purpose flour + 1/4 cup rice flour (can be substituted with all purpose flour) + 1 tablespoon chopped green onion + 1 Korean green chili pepper, chopped + 1 teaspoon sugar + 1 teaspoon salt + vegetable oil ]
Mix all the ingredients except the vegetable oil in a bowl, mix until combined.
Now you can choose to either make one huge pancake or several little ones. I went with the latter. If you’re going for big, then depending on the size of your skillet, heat enough oil to cover the entire surface (about 1-2 tablespoon) over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, put enough batter to cover the entire surface for a pancake about 1/2 inch thick. Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly.
If you’re going for smaller ones, also heat up enough oil to cover the skillet, and drop 1 tablespoon of batter for each pancakes.
Cook for 1 minute and check if the bottom has crisped up. Flip the pancake over to cook the other side. Add a bit more oil if it’s not getting crispy enough. Cook for an additional 2 minutes and flip again if necessary. Take off the heat and serve with pickled onions.
The next kimchi pancake makes use of whole leaves of kimchi and stuffing it with a mixture of meat and tofu. I’m actually stuffing mine with a mixture of mushroom, shrimp and tofu because it has been a continuous downpour since last night here and I really can’t be bothered to drive my recently washed car through muddy puddles to go grocery shopping. You can use minced pork, chicken, beef or shrimp. Or a mixture of them - the more the merrier.
STUFFED WHOLE LEAVES KIMCHI PANCAKES:
[ 6 kimchi leaves, about 6-7 inch long, more if needed + 2 tablespoon chopped shiitake mushroom + 3 tablespoon minced shrimp (can also use pork, chicken, beef etc) + 2 chopped tablespoon tofu + 1 teaspoon sesame oil + 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon black pepper + 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon kimchi juice + 1/2 cup all purpose flour + vegetable oil ]
Combine the mushroom, tofu, the onions, sesame oil and seasoning in a bowl. Mix well to combine.
Set up a shallow plate each for the beaten egg and flour.
Take the kimchi leaves and dab in the flour until well covered. Take a kimchi leaf and try to fit as much filling as you can along the length, but not overdoing it. Do the same to the rest of the leaves. If you’ve got some stuffing leftover, simply grab another kimchi leaf and repeat.
Heat enough oil in a skillet to shallow fry. Gently roll the stuffed leaves in the flour and then in the beaten egg.
Fry with the stuffing side down. Cook for 1-2 minutes and flip, cooking another minute on the other side.
Cut into bite size pieces and serve with some pickled onions.
Made some onion jang ah jji to serve with the recipe post tomorrow. It involves buckloads of kimchi, a bit of meat and a bit of tofu.
*Kimchi fun fact: Kimchi made without green onion, garlic or ginger inhibited the growth of S. typhimurium, but not the bacteria E. coli and S. sonnei. However, Kimchi without red pepper powder do not inhibit the growth of all tested pathogens. All ingredients of Kimchi did not inhibit the growth of L. plantarum and L. mesenteroides.This suggests that Kimchi ingredients can synergistically inhibit the growth of pathogens and Kimchi may be a selective medium for lactic acid bacteria.
Orange you glad I read food research journals?
Making Kimchi Fries
I was faced with a dilemma while making this - sweet potato fries, or fries, fries? Honestly, I would’ve opted to go sweet potato all the way. Aside it being somewhat healthier, I also like prefer the taste. But my biggest concern was, will it photograph well enough? Imagine for a second; bright orange-y sticks under caramelized, brown bulgogi and stir-fried, well ripened kimchi. Too much orange, no? So I threw my health concern out the window and found some sort of middle ground by using both regular potatoes and sweet potatoes. And you know what? I don’t think they look too bad together.
KIMCHI FRIES (serves 4):
[ 1 pound rib eye or sirloin, thinly sliced + 1/4 cup soy sauce + 1/8 cup sugar + 6 cloves garlic + 1 small onion or 3 shallots + 1/2 of a small Asian pear + 1/4 cup of water + 2 tablespoon sesame oil + 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + 2-3 tablespoon vegetable oil ]
[ 1/4 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons Korean pepper paste (gochujang)
+ 2 tablespoons soy sauce + 1 cup kimchi + 1/2 an onion or 2-3 shallots, chopped ]
FRIES & OTHER TOPPINGS:
[ 1/2 cup (kewpie) mayonnaise + 3 tablespoons Sriracha + 1 pound french fries (or sweet potato fries) + grated cheddar or your preferred cheese + toasted sesame seeds + chopped onion + chopped scallion ] OPTIONAL: Sour cream.
In a food processor or a blender, add all the beef marinade ingredients except vegetable oil and combine. Transfer to a large bowl and add more sesame oil or black pepper to taste. Add the rib eye or sirloin and toss to coat. Seal in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil until smoking. Add the meat and cook over high heat, turning once, until lightly browned, 4 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate and keep warm. Rinse out the skillet and wipe dry.
In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, gochujang and soy sauce. Add the kimchi and toss to coat. Heat the skillet until very hot. Add the onion and kimchi and cook over high heat until the liquid is thickened and glossy and the kimchi has browned a bit.
In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the 3 tablespoons of Sriracha.
Fry your preferred fries. Scatter the still hot fries on a platter and sprinkle with grated cheddar. Top with bulgogi and kimchi. Drizzle with some of the Sriracha mayonnaise and sprinkle onion, sesame seeds and scallion. Top with a dollop of sour cream, if using. Serve with additional Sriracha.
Making Buldak (불닭) / “Fire” Chicken
Rumor has it that the dish Buldak - “Bul” translating to fire and "dak" to chicken, is so spicy that even some Korean have trouble swallowing it down. The truth? Well I guess it depends on how brave you are with your spices. Let’s be honest here, why attempt to make something called “Fire chicken” if you’re not up for the burn that only the fieriest ingredient can provide? In my recipe I’m using a combination of red pepper powder, red pepper paste, bird’s eye chili, dried chili pepper flakes, black pepper and mustard to concoct a gastronomy atomic bomb. The copious amount of honey or corn syrup might lessen the blow, it might even trick you to thinking that it’s not spicy enough, but just you wait, the [somewhat pleasant] burn is coming for you.
BULDAK (불닭) / FIRE CHICKEN:
CHICKEN & MARINADE:
[ 1 whole chicken, cut into bite size pieces + 3 tablespoon soy sauce + 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tablespoon sugar + 1 tablespoon corn syrup or honey + 1 teaspoon ground black pepper + 1 scallion, sliced ]
Combine all the marinade ingredients and pour all over chicken pieces. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
[ 3 tablespoon red pepper powder + 2 tablespoon red pepper paste + 2 tablespoon soy sauce + 1 tablespoon sesame oil + 1 tablespoon honey or corn syrup + 1 tablespoon sugar + 1 teaspoon yellow mustard + 3 garlic cloves + 1/2 of an onion + 1/2 of a Korean pear + 1/2 tablespoon dried chili flakes + birds eye chili, to taste ]
In a blender, blitz all the ingredients for the sauce. Taste, adjust the seasonings according to your preferences and set aside.
Lift the chicken pieces from the marinade and fry the chicken pieces in enough oil to shallow fry. Work in batches to make sure the chicken brown and caramelize properly. Drain and set aside.
Remove the excess oil from the pan and return the chicken pieces. Over low flame, add the sauce into the pan and allow to caramelize a bit. Increase to high heat and cook, turning often, until the sauce thickens and coats the chicken pieces.
Arrange the chicken on a serving plate. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seed and serve immediately.