Korean Wife Camp: Kkakdugi – Cubed Radish Kimchi

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kkakdugi cubed radish kimchi recipe

Kkakdugi, or Korean radish kimchi, is a common banchan (side dish) served with meals such as galbijjim (korean braised short ribs), gomtang (oxtail soup), or tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet). But it’s delicious with any meal, any day of the week, in my humble opinion! (And it has a delightfully scatalogical-sounding name, which pleases my inner 12-year old endlessly. Pronunciation: cock-dooki. LOL.)

Being a kimchi, it is a salted, fermented, (aka pickled) vegetable – and the result is a tangy, spicy, crispy, salty and a tiny bit sweet, refreshing bite that’s chock full of health benefits such as probiotics, vitamins and fiber. It’s got the umami factor in spades, and it’s easier than easy (and super affordable) to make!

Impress your friends, family, and your own mouth with a scrumptious batch of homemade Kkakdugi!

kkakdugi steps

What you’ll need:
1 lb Korean Radish (aka Mu) – cut into 1″ cubes (choose a heavy radish with smooth skin. the higher the ratio of white skin to green skin, the sweeter the radish will taste.) NOTE: if you can’t find Mu, you can substitute Daikon, which is widely available. But if you can get proper Mu, it’s a bit sweeter and more nuanced in flavor. 
1 Tbs Kosher Salt
1 Tbs Honey (or sweetener of your choice)
3-4 Cloves Garlic – finely chopped
1 tsp Ginger – finely chopped
1/3 cup Gochugaru powder (korean red chili flakes.) There is no substitution for this, but if you can’t find them in your local asian grocery, you can order them on amazon.
2 Tbs Fish Sauce (I love this brand, because it’s just fish, salt, and water – wayyy less additives than others. If you can’t find (or stand) fish sauce, you can use soup soy sauce, or simply plain soy sauce.)


kkakdugi ingredients breakdown

What you do:
1. Toss the cubed radish with the salt and honey, until well coated. Set aside for 45-60 minutes.
2. In a separate container, mix together the garlic, ginger, gochugaru, and fish sauce.
3. Drain the radish, reserving 1/3 cup of the liquid and add both to the spice mix. Toss well to coat.
4. Pack the radish into a lidded container, trying to eliminate any air pockets. Loosely place lid on top. ***Don’t put it on tightly, or the container could explode!
5. Leave the kimchi out at room temperature for 1-3 days, depending on your preference. Taste the kimchi once every 1/2 day, and when you feel it’s done, you can transfer it to the refrigerator for storage. We personally prefer ours best when it’s gently fermented, after about 1 full day, but your mileage may vary.

The kimchi will last in your fridge until, basically, the end of time. It will just get more sour, unctuous, and carbonated as it continues to slowly ferment with time. But honestly, this stuff is so damn tasty it won’t last long at all.

PS: my kkakdugi is much more of a brownish-red color than yours will be, so don’t fret. The gochugaru powder I used is from our family estate in Yeoju, and is much less vibrantly fire-engine red than most commercial brands. So expect your finished product to look like cubes of delicious hellfire, friends! cubed radish kimchi kkakdugi


Getting My Groove Back with Baby Boot Camp: Week 3

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Last week, I promised you guys “before” photos, and so photos you shall have. Here I am, in all my 4 months post-partum glory. I had to work stupidly hard to not suck in my stomach for these pictures, by automatic instinct. Vanity, friends. It’s a bitch.

Baby Boot Camp Before and After
I also took measurements before starting my 3 month Baby Boot Camp challenge, so I could track my progress with greater specificity. I’ll be sharing the changes in my measurements monthly. Since muscle weighs more than fat, and I’m hoping to convert a lot of this fat into heavier muscle… numbers on a scale are the least of my concern.

But, for transparency’s sake, I’ll tell you right now: I weighed 200lbs on the dot the first morning I went to Boot Camp. It is definitely the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m OK with it, inasmuch as I know this body is responsible for creating, housing, and birthing the most beautiful, wonderful creature I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. But still, it would be nice if I could fit into any of my old clothes, y’know?

I also promised you goals this week. One thing that gives Baby Boot Camp some sweet added value is that Melinda and Elizabeth don’t just lead class, they also provide coaching outside of class time, via emails and a private Facebook group for Boot Camp members. It’s turning out to be a wonderful community of women, as we share inspiration, tips and tricks together. Elizabeth and Melinda encouraged us to set goals for ourselves through the end of the year, and provided great guidelines for setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound) goals.

So I thought on it, and decided that my goals would be as foolproof as possible.

  1. Attend Baby Boot Camp 3x/week
  2. Take long walks (minimum 1 mile) on non-bootcamp weekdays
  3. Cut back on sugar and refined carbs by not having them in the house
  4. Eat larger lunches and smaller dinners
  5. Acknowledge my beauty, growing strength, and the non-physical benefits of this challenge every day

Somehow, I think the last one might be the hardest. But it’s so, so crucial.

Every day when I get dressed, or catch my reflection in a mirror, an insipid little voice inside me tries to bully me into a state of disappointment and defeat. It’s gross, and I try to vigilantly tell that little voice to FUCK OFF every time I hear it’s whispers. And the best way I know how to shut that voice down is by working out, feeling my strength, and honoring my journey. I’m only human. I’m doing the best I can.

And sure, I’m often the slowest in class. When we jog around the park or do walking lunges, I often lag behind the other women, huffing and puffing and red-in-the-face. In these moments, when instinct has me wanting to speak unkindly to myself, I practice a new mantra:

This is for her. This is for me. This is for him. This is for us.

Because this challenge isn’t just about vanity. It’s about modeling a healthy lifestyle by example for my daughter. It’s about my mental health, physical wellbeing and longevity. And being happy and healthy makes me a better wife to my husband and a better mother to my baby. I work out because it betters my whole family.

So, my challenge is going strong, and I’m feeling the benefits add up more and more every day. I’ll be back next week to check in on my goals and progress!

baby boot camp fitness

Disclosure: My participation in this 3-month challenge is generously sponsored by Baby Boot Camp Culver City & Marina del Rey. 


How to cook the perfect holiday turkey in only one hour.

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This is not a joke, nor an exaggeration. Indeed, it is a promise. A gift to you, from the bottom of my heart. Because you CAN cook the perfect turkey in one hour, and transform your Thanksgiving experience forever. Believe me, you and your guests deserve it. Not only is it perfectly juicy, tender, and flavorful every time… but the skin is crisp and gorgeous, too. It’s everything you want your bird to be… in a fraction of the time.

cook a perfect turkey in one hour

I’ve been cooking turkeys this way for a few years now, ever since my high school bestie posted her father-in-law, Ron’s, youtube instructional… and I’m never going back. Nor are the friends and family that I’ve turned onto this style. Why in gobble’s name should anyone slave over a bird for hours on end, basting and fussing and checking temperatures… when you could be kicking back with a glass (or three) of wine and good conversation and family and friends?!?

So without further ado, I present to you… Ron’s One-Hour Turkey. Beloved by all who dare to try it themselves – satisfying dinner guests with minimal effort and maximum reward!

And to make it even easier for you, here’s a handy dandy link for the Granite Ware Covered Oval Roaster you’ll need. I got mine at Target, but Amazon Prime is even easier!

Welcome to the good life, friends.

(…and stay tuned, folks, because coming up soon is my famous, epic, thanksgiving feast layer cake recipe! I’m full of delicious inspiration and holiday cheer!) 


Five minute, four ingredient, no-knead bread for your mouth

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Friends, I am dead serious. I am here to share with you the no-knead bread baking secret that will change your life forever. Never again will you buy a store-manufactured boule, made with god knows what extra ingredients and preservatives.

All it takes is four simple ingredients, and about 5 minutes of “hands-on” work time… and for a mere fraction of the cost of store-bought loaves, you’ll be drowning in the intoxication of freshly baked, home made bread that will have you questioning: “why buy, when I can bake?”

Your friends will envy you. Your spouse and children will worship you. You will rise to legendary domestic goddess status among all who come dine at your home or receive a loaf as a gift. It’s crusty. It’s chewy. It’s delicious.

Prepare, people. There is no going back from here.

Granted, there is a lot of down time. So, patience is necessary. But trust me, while there may be 10 or so steps to follow, the effort you’ll actually put in is so minimal, you’ll be shocked at how foolproof and simple the process is.

five minute, four ingredient, no-knead bread

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups unbleached white flour (I use high quality flours like Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur, or Trader Joes private label (which is exactly Bob’s Red Mill, at a fraction of the cost.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast (Food 4 Less has the best deal in town)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water

What you do:

  1. Gently mix together your flour and salt in a decently-sized bowl. I use a Le Crueset
  2. Mix your yeast into the water, and add the yeasted water to your dry ingredients. Mix until incorporated with a wooden spoon. Your dough will look a hot, shaggy mess, but it will become clear that it’s done all the “coming together” it’s going to do.
  3. ***The above steps should take about 2.5 minutes total***
  4. Cover your mixing bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap and leave in a secure place on a counter top, preferably where the temperature is stable, for the next 12-18 (or more) hours. After 12-18ish hours have passed, your dough will have risen at least by double, and be sort of bubbly and smell amazingly yeasty-fermenty-bready. (that’s a technical term.)
  5. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface

no-knead bread

  1. Fold the dough over on itself a couple of times, gently pressing it down each time to remove excess air bubbles. Cover with the plastic wrap and let sit about 15 minutes *This step is optional. If you’re pressed for time, just skip this step and go straight to step 7. Your bread may just be a bit “airier” if you skip it. Still delish.*
  2. With wet hands (which, rather than floured hands, helps preserve the flour/water balance) fold the edges of the dough inward to the center, helping the dough find its way into a ball-shape with a smooth upper surface. Plop it into a parchment-lined 9-10″ bowl, (or wooden Banneton Basket, if you’re a baller like me). Cover, and let sit for 2 more hours.
  3. 30 minutes before your dough is done resting, pre-heat your oven with your cooking vessel in it to 450 degrees. I get my best results using a Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven and Casserole Cooker (which is super affordable), but you can use a Le Creuset, pyrex, or similar heavy, covered if you prefer. Preheating your vessel is crucial, so don’t forget.
  4. Once the dough is ready, lift the parchment paper with the dough in it, and place it into your dutch oven. (If you’re not using parchment, just plop the dough in, naked.) Give it a jiggle so the dough relaxes into the base of the vessel.
  5. Cover, and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the cover and allow it to continue for 15-20 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it’s golden and crusty, and the bread has a bit of a hollow sound when you gently tap or knock on it.

Then voila! You’re done! Gently lift the bread out of the pot, so it stops cooking, and try and patiently let it cool enough to handle before cutting into it. Then slice it up, and savor that warm, fresh-baked flavor and crusty, chewy texture. Good luck not eating the whole loaf right there and then! But while you do, practice your humblest expressions of thanks, in anticipation of all the praise you will soon be receiving from your loved ones!

 

Bread copy

 


Epic Thanksgiving Feast Layer Cake

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I’m so thrilled to see so many of you sharing the One-Hour Turkey post with your families and friends on Facebook! Thank you! I can’t wait to hear about your life-altering experiences with it. But, if that one blew your minds… hang onto your hats! This one takes the cake! (pun heartily intended.)

What’s better than a thanksgiving feast, I ask you? WELL, A THANKSGIVING FEAST IN ONE EPIC LAYER CAKE FORMAT, FRIENDS! I got the inspiration from a series of posts on “meat cakes” over at Vegansaurus back in 2010 (in a past life long ago… when I was a (gasp) vegan). Culinarily curious gal that I am, I felt compelled to take up the challenge and put my vegan cooking skills to the test of tests by making as much of it from scratch as possible… from the faux turkey base to the mashed potato icing and cranberry sauce topping. Mind you, this could easily be made carnivore-style. Just swap in real turkey, butter, and cream as you please! Mmmmm.

how to make a thanksgiving feast layer cake
With Turkey Day right around the corner, I thought I’d bring this post back from the BAB archives, for those of you still looking for that “blow them away” holiday table treat. I have to say, making it was much simpler than it seems (bonus!), and I still consider it the masterpiece of my culinary endeavors thus far. (You’ll have to bear with the shoddy photo quality. I was but a wee blogger back then!)


It’s an entire holiday dinner in one meal: “turkey”, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and stuffing. For a lover of sweet and savory together, this business rocked my palate’s world. And everyone, even my most carnivorous of friends, was transfixed by the beast. They thought it was a regular cake, until I sliced it open and displayed it’s hidden magic! Everyone embraced it, vegan or not, and they gobbled it up like they were the (very very hungry) turkeys. And oh yeah baby, it was even better the next day.

how to make a holiday feast layer cake
I started with a base of homemade “turkey” seitan, for the meat part. Seitan is a protein-rich meat substitute made from vital wheat gluten powder… and though it may seem intimidating, its super easy peasy lemon squeezy to make. After a “meh” test run with one recipe I found, my bestie directed me to Ellen DeGeneres’ recipe… and holy gobblesworth, it was DELISH!

The big “trick” to making it successfully is to freeze between layers, which allows it to “set” and makes for easy spreading with the softer components like the potatoes and sauce. For the turkey and stuffing, I filled them each into a round pie pan, packed them down, and froze them for about an hour before layering, which created the right shape and size to begin with.
I also planned ahead to stack them in a way that makes sense, considering their textures. Turkey on the bottom because its sturdy and pre-shaped from the pie pan, then I slathered that with mashed potatoes. Once that had set in the freezer, I turned out the pre-frozen stuffing from the pie pan on top, and slathered that with sweet potato puree. Once that was set, it was easy to layer on the cranberry sauce. Then another layer of turkey, then sweet potatoes, another pan of stuffing, and the icing of mashed potatoes once more. I “piped” out a border to hold in the cranberry sauce topping, using a ziploc bag with a corner snipped off, which really added to the “cake” effect. I know, it sounds m-fing crazy. And it was time consuming, but actually really fun, and more rewarding than I ever imagined. I mean, I never pictured myself making a whole (delicious) thanksgiving meal by myself, much less turning it into a trompe l’oeil like a layer cake!


Hungry yet? Well, an epic feast deserves an epic post, so here come the recipes! And yo, its so much simpler than it sounds. Trust.

The Seitan Turkey

  • 4 Cups vital wheat gluten
  • 1 Cup bread crumbs
  • 1 Cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 Tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 large onion small dice and caramelized
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • ½ Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 Cups strong No Chicken, chicken stock (veggie stock)
  • 1 full sheet of cheesecloth
  • Butcher’s twine

Start a large pot of water boiling. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet ingredients in another. Caramelize the onions until soft and golden brown and add them to the dry ingredients. Mix the two bowls together until a loose batter forms, and shape that into a loaf-y shape. Lay it out onto a full sheet of cheesecloth, folded over once.

seitan turkey
Roll it up tight into a cylinder, and tie it with bakers twine at either end, and twice in the middle. Drop that puppy into your hot water, cover, and let simmer gently for 2 hours, turning once throughout.


When its done, carefully unwrap it while its warm. Otherwise, the outer layer sticks to the cheesecloth and makes it much harder to remove. If you’re feeling cheeky, you can brush it with Earth Balance butter and blackening spices and bake it awhile to get a nice browned outside. I didn’t find this necessary, either way really. By the by, this makes a HUGE roast, so I’d halve the recipe if you’re cooking for a smaller crowd. Or, just freeze half and save it for a rainy day!

The Stuffing

This is the one component that was semi-homemade, as I used Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix and followed the instructions by adding veggies and broth. I just wanted to mention it because I used sauteed Trader Joe’s Stuffing Starter (a blend of celery, onions, fresh parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) as the base, which was too easy and tasty for words. But I am bereft to report that, this year, they’ve discontinued the stuffing starter. WHY, TRADER JOE, WHY?!? So sub in some celery, onions, and herbs of your choice. In my mother’s tradition, I also added raisins, which brings a supremely sweet and rich dimension that I simply adore.


The Sweet Potatoes

  • One 3-pound bag whole sweet potatoes
  • Unsweetened, organic soymilk to taste
  • Earth Balance butter, to taste
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

This one is very dependent on how you like your mash. I boiled the sweet potatoes whole until they were fork tender. The skin just slips off when they’re warm, but be careful not to burn your fingers. I pureed them in my sexy-ass 14-cup Cuisinart (thanks, Cuisinart!) and added enough milk and butter until they were juuuuuust right. I gotta say, this was the silkiest, most satiny, savory sweet deliciousness ever. I lurved these babies!


We don’t have pictures of these final two parts, whoops! Use your imaginations, k?

The Mashed Potatoes

  • One 5-lb. bag whole russet potatoes
  • Unsweetened, organic soymilk to taste
  • Earth Balance butter, to taste
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

I did these the same way as the sweet potatoes, and I don’t really know what I did wrong (was it the type of potato? The cook time? Did I over-puree?)… but they turned out a bit gluey and thick. It was actually pretty suitable for this dish, especially the icing part… but if it were just a side dish I’d have tossed it out and started over cuz I prefer my mashed taters more light and fluffy in general.

The Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 bag whole, fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice, with pulp.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg to taste
  • pinch of salt

This one is simple pimple. Just boil everything up in a pot, then reduce and simmer until it reduces to your desired thickness. Add the spices last, so you can monitor how potent you want them.

That’s it! Just layer and freeze, layer and freeze, “ice” with mashed taters, and brace yourself for an EPIC flavor party in your mouth. To serve, just cut into slices and warm them up individually, but its also super yums when cold. Oh, enjoy all the compliments and comparisons of yourself to Martha Stewart…. cuz that’s just how fly this bad boy is. It really is. YUM. And if you’re like me, after your tastebuds do a happy dance, you and your friends can do one too… like we did!


So, what do you think? Would you give it a shot?


Korean Wife Camp: Radish Water Kimchi – Dongchimi

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korean radish water kimchi dongchimi
Paul’s stepfather, Edgar, loves Korean food almost as much as I do. Together, he and I definitely have the true Koreans in our family beat in terms of our obsession with their own cuisine. So for Father’s Day, we took him to a fun Korean BBQ restaurant called Kang Hodong Baekjong – one of the few in town where the meat is cooked over coals, rather than just a gas burner. It’s delicious.

But the part of the meal that really caught my attention was a delicious banchan dish called Dongchimi, or radish water kimchi. (Banchan is a blanket term for the fantastic array of free side dishes famously served alongside Korean barbeque.) It was deceptively simple seeming: just thin slices of “moo” or korean radish served in a salty, tangy, frosty broth – an utterly refreshing and fabulous palate cleanser. I couldn’t get enough! And while Dongchimi literally translates to “winter kimchi,” the fact that it’s served cold makes it especially delightful in the heat of summertime.

But when I asked my future mother-in-law how it is prepared, she told me it takes too long to make, so she just buys it pre-packaged at the store. What more tantalizing bait for an aspiring cook/wife/mother could there be, I ask you? A challenge! This presented the perfect opportunity for me to learn it, make it, perfect it, and dazzle the shit out of my Korean mother-in-law with the results!

dongchimi radish water kimchi

 

And while my mother-in-law was right, it does take rather a while to make (thanks to the fermentation process), the actual “hands-on” prep time and effort involved is quite minimal. The trick of this dish, really, is patience while it does it’s pickly thing and makes fermentation magic on your countertop. So, to make it simple, I’ll break up the recipe by days.

What you’ll need:

Day 1:
5 lbs Korean Radishes, cut into pieces about the size of your palm. (If you can’t source korean radishes, you can substitute daikon, which is available in most supermarkets.)
1/2 cup kosher salt (I use this brand exclusively, because it’s free of the caking agents found in other brands)

Day 5:
3 green korean chiles
3 red korean chiles, each pierced with a fork a few times
1 cup asian pear, cubed
3 green onions, roots and all
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger, minced
10 cups water

Grab a large glass jar. I used this one, which has a gallon and a half capacity and worked perfectly. Place your salt into a bowl, and give the radishe slices a good rinse. While they’re still wet, roll them each in the salt until well-coated, and place them into the jar. If you have any leftover salt in the bowl, sprinkle it on top of the radish slices in the jar. Cover and refrigerate it for 4-5 days, during which time the salt will pull moisture from the radishes, softening them and preparing them to absorb all the flavors in the delicious, briney broth you’ll be creating later.

After a few days have passed, you’ll notice about an inch or two of water has collected at the bottom of the jar, which will serve as the base of your brine. Grab the rest of your ingredients, it’s go time!

Toss the chiles, cubed asian pear, and green onions into the jar. Place your minced ginger and garlic into a cheesecloth bundle and drop that in, too.

korean pickled radish recipe - dongchimi

Add your 10 cups of water, give it a good stir, and cover it up again. Then put your patient pants on and leave it to ferment at room temperature on your counter.

korean radish water kimchi

Within a day or less, you’ll notice the formerly clear brine has begun to take on a milky, cloudier hue. That’s when you know the magic is happening! After a day, give the broth a taste, and see if you’re happy with the balance of mild spiciness, tangy tartness, and salty savoriness. Try a bit of radish, too. If it’s too crunchy, you might want to cut your chunks in half to speed up their softening. You want them to still have a bit of crisp to them, but they shouldn’t feel “raw” to the tooth, either. But it’s all a matter of preference. In our case, we left it out for two full days before it achieved perfection. Then just transfer it to the fridge, and take bits of radish and broth to enjoy at your leisure!

I was quite nervous that after all the time that went into making this, it wouldn’t match up the quality of Kang Hodong Baekjong’s delicious dish. But when we had our first bowlful with dinner, I was delighted to find that I loved it and even preferred it to the original! And when Paul declared it “restaurant quality,” I knew we had a hit on our hands. I’ll be taking a batch to my mother-in-law’s house next weekend, and can’t wait to hear what she thinks!

dongchimi radish water kimchi recipe

To serve, slice the radish very thinly, and place in a bowl with a ladle or two of the chilled brine and a few chunks of asian pear. If you have company, toss in a chile or bit of green onion for color. Dongchimi pairs fantastically with a hearty steak from the grill, or burgers… but I enjoy it with pretty much everything! And because it’s fermented, it’s chock full of nutritious probiotics which support healthy digestive function (among other great benefits), and high in oxygen saturation, so it’s a wonderful elixir for when you’ve overindulged and find your belly in a bit of gluttonous distress.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Stay tuned, because next up will be my tried and true traditional napa cabbage kimchi recipe! It took me 5 attemps to perfect it, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Until next time…. 안녕히계세요! (Goodbye!)

 


Korean Wife Camp: Korean-Style Chicken Soup

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korean wife camp recipes

My usual staple chicken stock recipe is courtesy of the domestic goddess to end all goddesses, lady Ina Garten herself. (Bow down, people, and hail your queen.) But her method, while delicious and consistent, requires a whole day and night of time and energy. Which I can spare maybe once every three or four months in pursuit of a ginormous bulk batch of her nectar. It’s kind of a lot of work.

In between those times, this Korean-style chicken soup, or dak guk (닭 국), adapted from Maangchi.com) takes but a laid-back hour to make, and is incredibly soothing and delicious given how dead easy it is to make. I mean, who ever heard of one-hour chicken stock that was full-bodied and tasty as hell?! It’s almost good enough to completely supplant my beloved Barefoot Contessa stock. Almost. 

What I also love about this recipe, is that it makes better use of the ingredients, and produces less food waste. It always chaps my ass to fish out, strain, and throw out (or even compost) the stewed-past-death chicken carcasses, dried out meat, and baby-food mush veggies when making Ina’s recipe… but this one avoids that, giving second life to the ingredients that make it so flavorful and hearty in the first place.

dak guk korean chicken soup recipe

What you’ll need:
(serves 4)

For the broth:
2 chicken breasts (I’ve made this with boneless, skinless breasts and, as pictured, a spatchcocked double breast on the bone. Both were totally delicious, so it’s up to you! I use breasts because they’re healthier, and easy to shredm… but you could use legs, if you’re more of a dark meat connoisseur.)
16 whole cloves of garlic – skinned. (Do you know about this method of peeling large quantities of garlic? You’re welcome!)
1 medium/large onion – halved and quartered, skin on
2-3 Tbs ginger – sliced roughly
16 cups water
2 Tbs fish sauce (I love this brand, because it’s just fish, salt, and water – wayyy less additives than others. If you can’t find (or stand) fish sauce, you can use soup soy sauce, or simply plain soy sauce.)
1 Tbs salt

For the chicken topping:
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper – ground
2 Tbs sesame oil

For optional spice:
2 Tbs gochugaru powder
2 tsp sesame oil
cayenne pepper (to taste)

dak guk dalk kug korean chicken soup recipe

Brace yourselves for how easy this is, because at first blush, it appears too good to be true.

Put the first four ingredients into a stock pot and add the water. Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour, uncovered.

After an hour, remove the solids, reserving the chicken and garlic. The ginger and onion can enjoy a trip to the compost or trash.

Add the fish sauce and Tablespoon of salt to the stock, and stir. It will have reduced to about 12 cups at this point. Now taste that shit. Can you believe that only took one hour?! The stock is now DONE.

Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, use your hands to pull it into shreds. Don’t snack on it just yet.

Place the garlic cloves into a small bowl, and mash them into a paste with a fork. Mix in the sesame oil, salt and pepper, and then massage the garlic oil paste into the chicken meat. This gives the chicken an incredibly moist consistency, perfumed with so much aromatic flavor… it’s addictive. Snack on some now. Marvel at what you have created. Then, stop snacking. You want there to be plenty for your assembled soup!

dak gook korean chicken soupI personally like to gently sauté sliced carrots and celery and add them to the broth for a bit more veggie bite and fiber – but carrots and celery are my chicken soup favorites. You could do this with any vegetables of your preference, or give veggies the middle finger and let the chicken and stock speak for themselves. If you do add veg, once they’ve reached your desired level of doneness, hit them with a splash of soy sauce for a bit of extra umami caramelization. Then just layer them into your serving bowl with some chicken, ladle on some stock, and enjoy the simple, rich, soul-soothing properties!

This recipe is extra brilliant, because you can make it in advance, which makes it great for entertaining or daily lunches! Just keep the chicken, broth, and veggies (if you use them) in separate containers in the fridge. When you’re ready to serve, reheat the stock to a simmer, and pour it over the chicken as you serve. Easy peasy. And oh, so good.

For those of you who enjoy a bit more spice in life, here are two ways to heat things up a bit:
1. sprinkle whatever veggies you sauté with cayenne while they’re cooking.
2. make a paste using 2 Tablespoons Gochugaru (korean red chili flakes) and 2 teaspoons sesame oil in a bowl. You can add some to the chicken when mixing in the garlic, or just spoon it directly into your soup. Or both! Which is what I do. Mmmmm.

I hope you try this. It might just change your life forever.

If you do, come back and let me know how it went! Until next time…. 안녕히계세요! (Goodbye!)


Korean Wife Camp: Bori Cha – roasted barley tea

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korean wife camp: bori cha (roasted barley tea)

I’m straight up addicted to this tea. It’s traditionally served in Korean homes and restaurants, either hot or cold, in lieu of plain drinking water – and has a delicious, nutty, clean, refreshing taste that compliments whatever it accompanies. I am head over heels in love with it, drinking gallons each week like I’m some weird herbal vampire and this barley tea is my life blood. It’s dead easy to make, and even easier to drink.

And it’s good for you! Roasted barley tea has been found to inhibit bacterial colonization and adhesion, specific to the major cause of tooth decay and implicated in cardiovascular diseases. It’s also known to assist in digestion, improve blood health, and (according to eastern medicine) control damp heat in your system. Which is something I struggle with a lot. I’m super damp guys. No joke.

But even if for no other reason than general thirst, this shit is the yum.

You can find roasted barley in packages at most Asian supermarkets, as this tea is also widely consumed in Japan (as mugicha) and China (as dàmàichá). Or you can find it on Amazon. It looks roughly thusly, depending on the brand:
bori cha roasted barley tea
It takes about 1 Tablespoon in about 2.5 cups of water for a small batch.
But I say, fuck small batches. This stuff is meant to be consumed with gusto, not merely sipped!

So, I fill up my giant 16 quart Le Creuset stockpot to the handles, and scoop in about 15-20 Tablespoons (or basically just enough to cover the surface of the water).

bori cha roasted barley korean tea

It’s really not an exact science, which I love. Depending on how weak or strong you like your tea, adjust the amount of barley and brew time accordingly. We like a hearty brew around these parts, so I set it up to boil rapidly for about 15 minutes, but have been known to get distracted and let it boil as long as 30. It was delicious and no one died.

But most people get it to a boil and go 5-15 minutes. Depending on the strength, the color will fall somewhere between weak tea and strong tea.

Then, because I make such giant batches, and prefer to drink it iced, I usually just take it off the heat, pop the lid on, and let it sit overnight to cool before I bottle it. But you can drink it hot, immediately, if that’s your bag. A bonus to letting it sit until it cools is that the barley sinks to the bottom and I can just ladle it out into jars, or dunk jars in to fill them quickly without hassling with a strainer. I always advocate for less dishes to dirty.

Then I throw the leftover barley into my composter, or feed it to the dogs. I suppose you could toss it into a salad, if you felt like it.

Here’s my haul from the pot above:

korean roasted barley tea bori cha

So, the large mason jars are half-gallons, and the milk jugs are 4 cuppers. And the glass on the right was the little bit that didn’t fit anywhere except my very thirsty mouth. It will last me maybe a week. Probably less.

As you can see, I was practicing my Hangeul on the labels, and have quite a ways to go until my block lettering skills are better than a 3 year old.

….And I just finished off another batch while writing this. Try it yourself! It’s a real summertime, or anytime, treat!


I’m Fed Up. And you should be, too.

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In the United States, it is estimated that 93 Million Americans are affected by obesity. By 2050, 1 out of every 3 americans will have diabetes. More than 9 Million adolescents (children and teens 6-19 years old) are considered overweight.

Why? Because we’re all victims of an elaborate scheme to convince us that by simply “eating less and moving more,” we can solve America’s weight problem. We’re told, over and over, that with less calories, we’ll lose weight. But what we’re not told is that all calories are not created equal. Or that one soda a day increases a child’s chance of obesity by 60%. We’re not told that SUGAR is the main culprit behind America’s obesity epidemic. No one tells us that low-fat/low-calorie foods are filled with hidden sugars to make them more palatable, making those “health foods” just as responsible for our weight problems as candy and soda.

How do I know all this? Because Paul and I went to the movies a couple weeks ago and watched one of the greatest documentaries I’ve ever seen:
wpid-fed-up-trailer-header

Fed Up is the movie the food industry doesn’t want you to see. It explains, in terms easy to understand, how, for the past 30 years, everything we thought we knew about food and exercise is dead wrong.

As it turns out, sugar is behind our nation’s #1 health epidemic… and this movie exposes how “big food” has gone to great lengths to hide that fact in an effort eerily similar to the way “big tobacco” tried to hide smoking’s negative health risks for so many years.

I thought I was pretty well-read when it comes to dietary and health information. I knew that sugar was no good, (as are most sugar substitutes, especially the artificial kind), and that “fat” is not the dietary demon we’ve been led to fear for the past 30 years. And yet, this movie shocked, awed, and moved me in ways I never expected.

It’s not propaganda. It’s not untested theory. The movie is teeming with nutritionists, scientists, and politicians from both sides of the aisle, who corroborate the information shared about how mislead we’ve been, and the dangers of sugar – particularly when it comes to the diets of our children.

Today’s 10 year olds are the first generation expected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Just think about that for a second. It’s not because of global warming, or terrorism, or anything else… it’s because of our diets.

Whether you’re fat or thin, whether a parent or childless, whether healthy or unhealthy… I cannot encourage you enough to go see Fed Up. It will change the way you view your diet, your health, the food on your plate, and the shelves at your grocery. And hopefully, it will change your future.

I know it did for me.

Related reading:
U.N. food chief: Obesity, unhealthy diets a greater threat than tobacco – LaTimes.com
Always Hungry? Here’s Why – NYTimes
WHO-proposed sugar recommendation comes to less than a soda per day – CNN


The Best Chicken Recipe You’ll Ever Make

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This is your formal notice that all chickens cooked by any method other than this are hereby rendered unacceptable. It is, by far, the easiest, tastiest, tenderist, moistest, cry-over-your-plate-ist bird ever to cross the threshold of my lips.

I happened upon Jamie Oliver’s “Chicken in Milk” recipe whilst desperately searching for ways to make chicken dinners less boring, and curiosity couldn’t keep me away. We are dieting pretty hard in our house these days, but found ourselves relying too heavily on fattier cuts of pork and beef because we both find chicken rather… snoozeworthy. So I was on the hunt for chick-spiration. But cooking chicken in milk? This was a new concept, and I was intrigued. I’ve heard many an italian wax rhapsodic over the merits of milk-braised pork, so it should follow that, if that works – this must be something special too! Plus, I think we can all agree that Jamie Oliver knows his shit. (Hi Jamie! I love you and your food revolution SO MUCH!)

And it’s true. It is an absurdly special dish. Paul is just as blasé about birds as I am, but his tastebuds were riveted by this preparation. Ding ding ding, we’ve found our solution to the boring bird! WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER! So here I am, sharing my adaptation.

Not only is this recipe dead-simple, but it is extremely modification-friendly, which means that it won’t get boring. I’ve done it 3 different ways now, all of which were damned delicious. I even made a version using coconut milk instead of cow’s milk for all you lactose-intolerant folk! See below for more ideas, after the recipe. And if you don’t use much sauce at all (and really, it’s moist enough on it’s own) you’ll save the fat/calories of whatever milk you used to cook it with!

Milk-roasted chicken with rosemary, shallot, and lemon cream sauce

milk roasted chicken recipe

 Ingredients:

1 whole roasting chicken (ours was about 4 pounds.) (Get a good quality chicken. It really makes a difference. Ours is from the farmer’s market.)

1 Tablespoon butter and/or olive oil

2 cups milk (I prefer St. Benoit Organic Whole Jersey Cow’s Milk – it will change you forever, it’s so good.)

2 springs fresh rosemary

The zest of 1 lemon (I used meyer lemon in this one)

5-7 cloves garlic, skin on

2 medium/large shallots, sliced thinly

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Preparation:

Rinse your chicken and dry very well. Salt him liberally, and let him rest, uncovered, in the fridge overnight or as long as you can before cooking. If you don’t have time, just salt and pepper him. Also, it’s ideal, but not imperative, if you can let him come to room temperature before cooking. There’s not right or wrong – just do what you can with the time you have!

Pre-heat your oven to 325° F.

Heat a dutch oven or roasting pan on the stovetop until good and hot. Melt your butter and/or oil in the bottom. Lay the chicken in, breast side down, and let brown for a few minutes. Then flip him, and brown the other side. Transfer the chicken to a plate when you’re done, and pour the excess oil out of the pan.

Return the chicken to the pan, breast-side down. Add all the other ingredients to the pan and place it, uncovered, in the oven for 60-90 minutes, (depending on the size) or until the internal temp is around 150 and the juices run clear. Baste it every 20 minutes or so with the liquids in the pan, if you can.

Remove the chicken and cover loosely with foil to let it reabsorb the juices it expressed while cooking, and it will continue to cook for a bit to come to full temperature. Let it rest for about 20 minutes if you can stand waiting through the smell that’s now teasing you to the brink of drooling.

Then carve that sucker up, and drizzle with the pan drippings if you like! Enjoy!

Modification Inspiration:

Try Jamie’s Original Recipe, with sage, lemon and cinnamon. It is ridiculously tasty. Very savory and holiday-nostalgic.

Try a Thai-inspired turn, featuring coconut milk, like this one from The Kitchn.

Go totally thanksgiving on that beast, swapping in fresh thyme, sage, dried cranberries, orange zest, a bit of nutmeg, and some sweet potato chunks.

Get curry in a hurry with coconut milk, yellow curry, some chili peppers, and cinnamon. Toss in carrot and potato chunks, and you’ve got a meal in a pot!

Use your imagination!  Swap in and out whatever herb combinations suit your fancy. Explore new citrus zests and spice blends. Adapt it to suit your tastes and have fun experimenting! 

My next incarnation will be an attempt at greek-style chicken, relying on oregano, lemon, and kalamata olives to spice it up. I’m also going to sub in all-white meat chicken breasts from our new local butcher shop, to make it even leaner. I’ll report back with my findings! And if you try one that turns out famously, please share your invention with me, too!  We’ve got to stick together in the quest to keep chicken from boring our faces off, no?