Monday, October 28, 2013

Seafood and Brown Rice Porridge (modified jeonbokjuk)

I've been on a big Korean food kick lately. Well I always crave Korean food, but I mean I've been trying to cook more of it myself. I used to shy away from it because a lot of the dishes require ingredients you can only get at a Korean/Asian market, but this modified jeonbokjuk dish I made is great because it requires no special ingredients and yet it tastes yummy and comforting! This dish reminds me of the plain rice porridge my mom used to make all the time and it also reminds me of one of the best airport meals I ever had at the Incheon airport in Seoul.

Jeonbokjuk is traditionally made with short grain white rice and abalone. I love abalone! One of the best food experiences in my life was when I went to Jeju Island with my mom and we climbed over the slippery rocks, sat on wet upside-down buckets, and ate fresh abalone (with a side of kimchi of course) that was sold by the female divers (haenyo) there. So, so good. Unfortunately, it's not as easy to come by here and so I used a seafood mix from Trader Joe's that had squid, shrimp, and scallops. You can pick any kind of seafood that you like best. I also used brown rice because that's what I had handy (I'm slowly making my way through a giant bag of rice I bought forever ago) and I generally try to eat brown rice instead of white nowadays. The brown rice doesn't break down as easily as the white rice though so adjust soaking and cooking times as necessary.

Unfortunately the weather warmed up yesterday when I made this and I always run really hot the day after a long run so it wasn't an ideal type of day to eat this but I still loved spooning this wonderful Korean comfort food and foresee many cold winter days when I'll be making this again!

[12/9/13 update: Generally you're supposed to eat this day of and pretty soon after cooking it, but I've refrigerated it and eaten it the next day or two without problems. It congeals so you have to stir in some extra water when reheating and save the green onions and seaweed for any refrigerated amount and add it fresh to the reheated portions.]

Servings: 2-4 (4 if you're serving something else with it, but for me this is a 2 mealer)

1 cup shrimp/squid/scallops, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (use whatever seafood you prefer)
1 cup short grain brown rice
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup carrots, chopped into small pieces
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
7 cups water
1/2 cup roasted seaweed, crumbled
Salt (and pepper (optional)) to taste

  • Wash 1 cup of brown rice and then soak it in cold water for at least two hours (I soaked it about 4). Drain well and set aside.
  • Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat and add 2 tbsps of sesame oil.
  • Add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 cup chopped seafood, 1/4 cup chopped carrot, and 1 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms to the pot and stir for 30 seconds.
  • Add the 1 cup of brown rice to the pot and stir continuously for 3-6 minutes until the rice starts to look translucent.
  • Add 7 cups of water to the pot and stir everything together. Let the water come to a simmer and then cover the pot and decrease the heat to low.  
  • Cook rice for 30-45 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally to make sure the rice doesn't stick and burn to the bottom. (I put my heat too low in the beginning and ended up cooking mine for 45 minutes).
  • Once the rice has broken down into a porridge-like texture, add 1 tbsp of soy sauce and approximately 1 tsp of salt. Taste and add another tbsps of soy sauce or more salt if desired (I used 2 tbsps of soy sauce). 
  • Serve hot and topped with crushed roasted seaweed and chopped green onions. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired.
When I opened it up the steam fogged up my camera lens! Look how pathetically sad my chub chub pugs look.
I like to put a lot of green onions and seaweed on mine! But I took a photo first with it looking nice and dainty because otherwise all you'd see in this photo would be a big ol pile of green onions and seaweed!
Can we all just take a second to stop and look at Sunny's sad pug slump in front of my fridge and Rosy's desperately pleading face?
Sunny wouldn't budge from that spot so when I had to open the fridge I had to nudge the door against her and slide her across. Only then did she jump up and then wedge herself partially inside the fridge, looking at her precious carrots.  Sigh.
I usually try to minimize my use of oil in my foods and often substitute with cooking sprays (Trader Joe's makes so many good ones!) but trust me and use the full 2 tbsps of sesame oil. Sesame oil is such a fragrant and flavorful oil and you can really taste it in this dish! See even the pugs can smell it!
This is the kind of dish that is good to make on a cold and dreary day when you need something to warm you from the inside and also something good to help someone who is recovering from an illness.
And I got all my ingredients from Trader Joe's, even the roasted seaweed (they have a sweet/salty snack version that I just used because I was too lazy to make a trip to the Korean market)! Oh, well the rice was originally from a Korean market, but you can get rice anywhere. Enjoy!  

Adapted from Maangchi.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fish and Shrimp Stew with Tomatoes

Now that fall's started I'm in the mood for soup! While I love so many of the recipes I've posted on here already, I'm always on the lookout for new recipes to try out. I stumbled across this one and it was the first fish-based stew that I thought looked yummy and yet easy and quick to make. And yes it is all three!

Unfortunately today was a little warm and it was so humid that my hair cowlick did what my friend calls "happy puppy ear." I hate humidity so so much, and yet I live in a terrible city for it. By the time I got home it was late and I felt gross and hot.  I so wasn't in the mood for cooking up a soup but I had my fish and shrimp thawing in the fridge. This was really fast to put together since I did my chopping over the weekend and it was so yummy! A nice change from my usual bacon or sausage driven soups! Of course one can never have too much bacon or snausages, but this is a nice change and a great seafood option.

Servings: 3-6

1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup carrot, chopped
10 ounces baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup green onions, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
2 cups vegetable broth
1-1 1/2 pound firm white fish (e.g., tilapia or cod), cut into approximately 1-inch pieces
1/2-1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed (I like to cut my shrimp into 1-inch pieces too)
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Cooking spray or olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


  • If using frozen shrimp and fish, make sure they're properly thawed.
  • Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and either use a cooking spray or heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil.
  • Add 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped carrots, and 3 minced garlic cloves to the pot/Dutch oven. Stir occasionally for about 4 minutes and then add 10 oz chopped mushrooms and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. (I may omit the carrots next time as I don't really like carrots unless they're used in a long cooking soup. This recipe is so fast that the carrots were still too carrot-y for my taste).
  • Add 1/2 tsp dried oregano and 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add 1/4 cup chopped parsley and 1/2 cup dry white wine. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add 28 oz diced tomatoes and 2 cups vegetable broth. Stir everything together until well mixed and bring the soup to a simmer. (At this point I tasted the soup and was a bit disappointed with the tomatoe-y taste. I was almost tempted to season it then but thought it best to wait to the end and I am so glad I did! The fish, shrimp, and capers really change the flavor of the soup so wait to season!)
  • Add 1-1 1/2 lb white fish to the soup. Stir occasionally for about 3 minutes until the fish is almost cooked through.
  • Add 1/2-1 lb shrimp to the soup (I like having things in my soup bite-sized so I cut up my shrimp into approximately 1-inch pieces). Stir occasionally for about 2-3 minutes until shrimp is just cooked. 
  • Remove pot/Dutch oven from heat and stir in 2 tbsps capers. Then add salt and pepper to taste (with the capers, you'll need less salt than usual with soups so season after adding the capers in).
  • Optional: Top each bowl with a sprinkling of chopped green onions. I had some extra chopped green onions from another recipe and I love green onions so I thought I'd add some to my soup. It adds such a nice crunch and extra flavor to the soup! I then finished with an extra bit of fresh cracked pepper. 
Sniff that bowl Sunny. Aw man, look at how gray Rosy's getting in her muzzle already! She's only 3!
Anytime I cook Rosy can't stop licking her lips! Look at her crazy tongue go!
Adapted from Cookin' Canuck.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dakbokkeumtang - Korean Spicy Chicken Stew

Lately I've been on a Korean food kick. I see my parents fairly often and usually my mom cooks dinner if I stay long enough but we usually eat the same dishes because my mom knows they're my favorite and I always prefer them first. But this means that lately I've been missing some of the other dishes that my mom no longer makes when I visit. There are a few dishes that I want to try out in the near future but funny enough the first Korean dinner I made all by myself is actually one my mom never made for me (or at least I can't remember if she ever did).

This dish is called dakbokkeumtang (formerly called dakdoritang) and it's a very spicy chicken stew that is best served with rice (or in my case, brown rice). You can get gochujang and gochugaru at any Korean/Asian market and don't worry about having a huge tub with no use - you can mix the gochujang with a bit of rice vinegar and dip veggies in it like broccoli or Asian cucumbers. You can also substitute other red pepper powders for gochugaru but it may make the dish taste a little different.  Dakbokkeumtang is meant to be very spicy but if you have a lower spice tolerance you can certainly cut down on the red pepper paste and powder, but you may want to increase the amount of soy sauce or salt to adjust the flavor. Also, if you're not used to eating spicy foods and you try making this super spicy, beware that may cause your tummy to get upset.  Dakbokkeumtang is also traditionally made with either dark meat or a mixture of white and dark meat, but since I favor white meat I used chicken breasts for this.  I've left some of the ingredient amounts flexible and made some modifications as I find that a lot of Korean cooking is about personal taste and variations.

Servings: 3-5

2 pounds chicken, cut into 1/2-1 inch pieces (or if dark meat, you can leave on the bone)
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (approximately 1-inch pieces)
2 medium onions, cut into large chunks (approximately 1-inch pieces)
2-4 tablespoons chopped green onions
2-4 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced
1/4-3/4 cup soy sauce (depends on if you use low sodium and how salty you want it)
1 1/2-2 cups water (depends on how brothy you want it)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup gochujang (Korean red chili paste)
1-2 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean red chili powder)
1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted
6 dried shiitake mushrooms (optional)
1 green chili pepper, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste


  • Add in a large pot or Dutch oven 1/4-3/4 cup soy sauce, 2-4 tbsps garlic, 1 tbsp ginger, 4 tbsp gochujang, 1-2 tbsps gochugaru, and 1 tbsp sugar until sauce is well mixed.
  • Add in 2 lbs chicken, 2 chopped onions, and 1 1/2-2 cups water.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Optional: Place 6 dried shiitake mushrooms in a large bowl of warm water to soften. When softened enough, cut into strips. I like shiitake mushrooms so I added them to the dish, but they have a unique flavor and texture so if they're not your thing omit them.
  • After 20 minutes, add in 3 chopped potatoes, 6 sliced shiitake mushrooms, and 1 chopped green chili pepper. 
  • Stir together all the ingredients and then cover and cook for another 20 minutes. The potatoes will help thicken the stew.
  • After the second 20-minute period is up, remove lid and let cook uncovered for 3-5 minutes to let the sauce thicken.
  • Stir in 1 6-ounce bag of baby spinach and 2-4 tablespoons green onions until spinach is wilted and coated with the sauce.
  • Remove from heat and sprinkle lightly toasted sesame seeds on top of the chicken. Serve with some rice.

Of course no tasting for the girls since this had a ton of spicy things and onions. But I cooked a teensy bit of chicken for them separately as a birthday treat for them (Sunny turns 9 and Rosy turns 3 today!).
Adapted from My Recipes and Maangchi.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Hoddeok (Korean Pancakes with Sweet Filling)

I don't know how I lived for so long in New York away from all my family because now if I don't see my parents and eat some of my mom's Korean cooking, I get some serious cravings. I keep begging my mom to write down her recipes so that I can try them out but she claims it's too difficult for her because she doesn't really measure anything. I very rarely ever see her whoop out a measuring cup or measuring spoons. Actually, I don't know if she even owns any measuring spoons (I'll have to check next time I'm there).

So recently I was craving Korean food and discovered the joy that is YouTube videos of Korean cooking. One of my favorites is Maangchi. Just the sound of her ginormous knife on the cutting board (for some reason all Korean moms I knew would use their one huge knife for all their chopping) reminds me of my mom when cooking. Since I won't be doing my grocery shopping for the week until later I wanted to find a recipe with ingredients that I might have in my pantry/fridge. Then I saw her hoddeok recipe and I knew I had to make some!  Hoddeok is a Korean pancake that is filled with something yummy, like a red bean mixture or some sweet syrupy goodness. My mom never made this at home, but we would often buy it in Koreantown or there's a frozen version that you just pop into the toaster oven. It's a great treat on a cold and dreary day. Since the past few days have been overcast and nonstop raining, I believe the universe was telling me that I had to make these. 

Servings: Makes 8 hoddeoks

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup lukewarm water
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (plus extra for cooking with)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
2 tablespoons finely chopped nuts (I used almonds because that's what I had handy)

  • Pour 1 cup lukewarm water into a medium-large bowl.
  • Add in 2 tsps yeast, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tbsps white sugar, and 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Stir until well mixed.
  • Add in 2 cups flour and stir until well mixed.
  • Cover bowl tightly with saran wrap and let rise for about one hour.
  • After the hour's up, stir the dough to release the air bubbles (I used my small rubber spatula for this).
  • Cover again and let rise for an additional 10-20 minutes.
  • While the dough is on its second rise, in a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 2 tbsps of finely chopped nuts.
  • After dough is done with its second rise, flour a cutting board or other surface very well. This dough is very sticky, so be generous with the flour!
  • Pour out the dough onto your well-floured surface.  Tuck in the edges towards the center and knead it a bit as you get the surface area lightly coated with the flour.
  • Separate the dough into 8 evenly sized pieces.
  • Flour your hands well and with each of the 8 pieces do the following: Flatten it a bit with your hands and in the middle pour 1/8 of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture in the middle.  Curl your hand inwards as you raise the edges of the dough towards the center, closing the dough up as you pinch and pat down the center part. Do this 8 times with each piece of dough and set aside, seam side up. The dough is really sticky so do your best and keep extra flour close by!
  • Heat a large pan a smidgen over medium heat. I found that with my stove I needed to set it right in between medium and medium-high to get the best results. Experiment with your stove to see what works best for you and the color you want to achieve with your hoddeok.
  • Pour a little bit of oil into your pan or use a cooking spray and heat it up.
  • Place your dough ball seam side down into the pan and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until bottom is brown. I found on my stove I needed to do closer to 1 minute.
  • Using a spatula, flip over and then gently press down with your spatula (carefully use your finger to help press down the spatula) across the dough to flatten it out into a circle about 4 inches in diameter. Cook for an additional 1 minute.
  • Flip the dough again and press down with your spatula for a little bit. Lower the heat to low to medium-low and cover.  Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove lid and if you want to make sure the filling inside is melted, flip the hoddeok a couple times and gently press down with your spatula.
  • Remove hoddeok from pan and plate it. Hoddeok is best served piping hot from the cooktop. There's a fine balance between getting it when it's perfectly hot and delicious, and burning your fingers and tongue. I usually end up with burnt fingers and tongue because I'm so impatient.
  • While hoddeok is best served fresh, unless you're cooking for 8 people or are super duper hungry with a crazy fast metabolism, you may want to consider a few options: (1) If you plan on serving/eating the rest in the next day or two place the dough in the fridge until you use it; (2) Freeze dough and thaw before you need it; (3) Make the dough balls with the filling inside and then freeze the balls on a cookie sheet until frozen and then in an airtight container. Thaw before you cook it up; or (4) Make the hoddeoks and freeze them on a cookie sheet until frozen and then in an airtight container. Reheat in a toaster oven or in the oven.  Of course none of these options are as good as fresh and hot, but sometimes we gotta make do with what we can. Since I'm super lazy, my preferred method is to make them completely, freeze, and then toast them to reheat them. 
Now comes the pictures!  

Here are my cute little dough balls.

The first batch I made I didn't flatten them enough or cook them long enough so the filling wasn't as syrupy as I'd like. 
Surprisingly the girls were not in the kitchen as I cooked these up. They usually don't when I cook sweets but as soon as the bacon hits the pan or I cook some other savory food they are promptly by my feet. I think they were also tired from their busy day of going to the groomers, playing with their new ginormous elephant toy/bed from Costco, and going on stubborn walks in the pouring rain all day.
So the next batch I flattened them out a bit better and cooked at the longer times I mentioned above.
A couple were a little too dark on one side, but they were much better and syrupy inside!
The girls were still lounging on the couch and I couldn't do a post without them so I brought the plate over to taunt them and take photos.
Sunny's super tired!
Then I brought them back into my kitchen and started eating!
So good! But now I feel crazy stuffed from having eaten so many as I tried to find the right cooking temps and times for my stovetop!
Oh yeah.
I froze a bunch of them and look forward to reheating them on cold and lazy weekend mornings. I think I'll be making and eating a lot of these this fall and winter! And I might try experimenting with different fillings and flavors. Maybe a pumpkin one???

Adapted from Maangchi (watch her YouTube video - it's very helpful as it shows each step in action).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tomatoey Chicken Sausage, Bacon, Beans, and Bread Crumbs

Sometimes I get into a cooking rut because I get busy, lazy, and/or I'm tired of my seasonal dishes and waiting for the change of a season. I was loving my spring/summer dishes before, but as the months tick by and the heat and humidity persist, I get tired of them and want a change.  For the last two weeks I was going through that phase and ate mostly hot dogs and frozen food. By last weekend, I felt gross and was eager to start up my cooking again and this week the weather is finally starting to cool down enough that I can get excited for fall dishes!  

Anytime I see a recipe that involves sausage and beans I flag it as a possible future dish because those are usually easy and you can't go too wrong with that flavor combination. I liked that this one also had tomatoes (how much do I heart Trader Joe's canned diced tomatoes with no salt?) and the novelty of homemade bread crumbs (a first for me). And then I saw that this recipe had bacon and there was no question about it - I had to make this!  I tell you, bacon searches me out! Since I had some chard leftover from my other dish this week, Orzo with Caramelized Fall Vegetables, Bacon, and Ginger, I added some in as well. I love a nice colorful dish! I went a little too long in the broiler so my bread crumbs were almost burned. I panicked but luckily they still taste amazing and I managed to not set off my smoke detectors.  Ah fall, it's so good to have you back! Now just keep winter at bay for a while.

Servings: Original recipe says 6 but this is a 3-mealer for me (I basically need at least 2 normal person sized servings).

4 slices of thick cut bacon, chopped (I used Trader Joe's peppered uncured turkey bacon)
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
2 14.5-ounce cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
12 ounces sausage, cut in half lengthwise and in 1/2 inch pieces (I used Trader Joe's garlic chicken sausage)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1-2 cups kale or chard, chopped
3-5 cups bread, cut into 1-2 inch pieces (I used about 1/3 of a Trader Joe's sourdough baguette)
Pat of butter
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 chopped slices of bacon and cook for a few minutes until browned and slightly crisp.
  • Add 1 chopped onion to the bacon and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender.
  • Add 3 minced garlic cloves and 1 tbsp thyme and cook for an additional minute.
  • Add 1/2 cup white wine and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add a can of diced tomatoes and cook for 2-4 minutes until sauce is thickened.
  • Add 1 1/4 cup chicken broth and 2 cans of cannellini beans and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • Add 12 ounces chopped sausage to the mixture and stir everything together.
  • Move skillet to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  • While the skillet is in the oven, prepare breadcrumbs by either toasting them in a toaster oven or melt a pat of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and then add 3-5 cups chopped bread. Stir the bread frequently until it browns, approximately 8-10 minutes.  I used my cast iron skillet and had to lower the heat halfway through as the bread was browning too fast.
  • Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup chopped parsley into the bread crumbs and season with some salt.
  • Remove skillet from oven and stir in 1-2 cups of chopped kale or chard.
  • Heat broiler.
  • Spoon the breadcrumbs evenly on top of the skillet mixture.
  • Place the skillet back in the oven and broil about 6 inches from the heat source for 1 minute. I did 2 and ended up with my breadcrumbs almost burnt (still tasted good though!).
  • Remove skillet from oven and add salt and pepper to taste. 
Mmm smells so good and tastes so yummy!
I may have almost burnt the breadcrumbs during the final broil stage, but I actually really liked them like this! They were more flavorful and crunchy. But oh man was my oven smoky when I first opened the door so watch it carefully if you want to broil more than 1 minute!
The bacon and sausage in this dish are just too much for Sunny and Rosy to resist.
No licks! This has onions and other things that wouldn't be good for you! But of course I did set aside itty bits of the bacon for them in the beginning as a treat afterwards. They've gotten really good at posing with my food because they know they'll get at least a tiny bite of something yummy!
Another recipe to add to my regular fall/winter rotation!
Adapted from Martha Stewart.