Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gyeran Mari (Rolled Omelette) with Bell Peppers

Washington, D.C. is truly beautiful this time of the year! At the end of cold, snowy March, magnolias and daffodils were among the first signs of spring in the city. I couldn't help but go out and marvel at them every day during my lunch break at work. Last week, the weather turned warm just in time for the peak of Cherry Blossoms. They were late to bloom, and unfortunately, their short lives were cut even shorter by bad weather that followed. While they were here, the blossoms were gorgeous! 

Today's recipe is another version of gyeran mari, a Korean-style rolled omelette. I previously showed you two types of gyeran mari, one made with carrot and scallion and the other with gim (nori). This one is similar to the one made with carrot and scallion, but this time I used red and green peppers. Asparagus is another good vegetable choice in the spring. I also used a bit easier method here by mixing the chopped vegetables in the egg mixture before cooking. As I said in the previous post, cook the eggs over gentle heat. If the heat is too high, you'll end up with tough eggs that will break when folded. If you don't cook the eggs enough, the rolled egg will be runny in the middle.

3 large eggs
¼ red bell pepper, finely chopped
¼ green bell pepper, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
vegetable oil

Crack and beat the eggs in a bowl with a spoon or a fork, until the yolks and whites are blended well with no visible strings of whites. Stir in the chopped vegetables and salt.

Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to a medium size non-stick pan and distribute the oil evenly using a napkin or paper towel. Preheat over medium low heat, until it feels hot when you place your hand 2 to 3 inches above the bottom of the pan.

Add the egg mixture to the pan, reserving a tablespoon or two to use as glue for the last fold. Swirl it around to cover the pan. Let it cook until the top begins to set but is still slightly wet.

Using a spatula, lift one end of the egg (about 1-1/2 inches) and fold it over. Reduce the heat or raise the pan away from the heat for a little while if the bottom is browning. Lift the folded part and fold it again, repeating until only one fold remains. Spread the reserved egg mixture over the unfolded end. When the egg addition is set but still slightly wet, finish folding the omelette. Leave it on the hot pan for a few more seconds.

Remove from the pan and let cool for about 5 minutes. Slice the egg into thick, even pieces. 

Here are some photos of the blossoms I took...

Magnolias around the Smithsonian Castle.

 Cherry Blossoms around the Tidal Basin.

Cherry blossoms in my yard.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jangjorim (Soy Braised Beef)

Jangjorim (장조림) is a soy-braised beef dish. It's a slightly sweet, salty side dish that's meant to be eaten in small amounts. So, a little bit of meat goes a long way. Back in the day, when beef was scarce, jangjorim was an economical way to put some beef on the table for the whole family. It's also a popular side dish for home-packed lunch boxes. Kids love it! Growing up, it was the most exciting thing to see in my lunch box.

Beef eye round is commonly used, but I prefer brisket or shank because they are more flavorful. Small blocks of beef are first cooked in water, along with a few aromatic vegetables, and then cooked in soy sauce based broth. The beef will turn tough if cooked in soy sauce from the beginning. I boil the aromatic vegetables, to make a flavorful broth, before adding the beef to cook. Shred a block of beef or two and pour the sauce over to serve.

1-1/2 pounds beef brisket (or shank)
1/2 medium onion
2 scallions white part
6 ounces of Korean radish (mu), cut into big chunks
7 garlic cloves
3 thin ginger slices (about 1-inch round)
1/2 teaspoon whole peppers (or ground peppers to taste)

5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons soup soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons rice wine (or mirin)
2 to 3 chili peppers (dried or fresh green/red peppers)
1 piece (3-inch square) dried kelp

Cut the beef into 2 to 3-inch rectangles.

In a covered medium pot, bring 6 - 7 cups of water and the next 6 ingredients to a boil. Continue to boil for 5 minutes.

Drop the meat into the pot. Bring it to a gentle boil, and remove the scum. Reduce the heat to medium low. Boil, covered, for about 30 minutes.

Remove the meat. Drain the liquid, reserving the broth.

Add 2 cups of the broth back to the pot. (You can save the remaining broth to make a soup or stew later.) Add the meat and sauce ingredients. Bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, and boil until the meat is tender and the sauce is reduced to about 1/3, about 30 minutes. Add the chili peppers and dried kelp with about 7-8 minutes of time remaining.

Remove the kelp, and transfer the meat and sauce to an airtight container.

Shred the meat and pour some sauce over to serve. Keep it refrigerated in an airtight container. It will keep well up to 10 days. If you want to keep it longer, boil the meat and sauce again after a few days. The meat will become hard in the fridge. You can soften it by leaving the shredded beef out at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes, or microwave for 10 - 15 seconds to soften.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dakgangjeong (Sweet Crispy Chicken)

Dakgangjeong (닭강정) is a deep-fried crispy chicken dish glazed in a sticky, sweet, and spicy sauce. It's traditionally made with a whole chicken that's been cut up. Some people make it only with chicken wings. However, dakgangjeong made with bite sized boneless chicken pieces has become a recent food craze in Korea, adding to the growing trends of Korean fried chicken. I personally like the boneless version because it's quicker and easier to make.

Dak means chicken in Korean. Gangjeong is a type of traditional Korean confectionery. It's made by deep-frying sweet rice batter into crackers, coating with a syrup, and finally covering with puffed rice, sesame seeds, or nuts. Traditionally, the similar concept/technique -- deep frying and coating with a sticky syrup -- is also used to make various other sweet and savory dishes. Dakgangjeong is the chicken version.  

To make this dish, I first soaked the raw chicken in milk for a couple of hours, but it's not absolutely necessary. The milk helps tenderize the meat and remove any odor, resulting in tender, juicy, and flavorful fried chicken. Then, the chicken gets marinated with a little bit of salt, ginger and garlic before being lightly coated with the potato starch.

The sauce is sweet and tangy with a little spicy kick from the gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste). It's far from fiery hot, but reduce or omit the gochujang if you'd like. You can replace gochujang partially or entirely with ketchup. It's very common to use ketchup in a dakgangjeong sauce for a milder taste. You can also boost the heat level by simmering the sauce with a little bit of gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes) or whole dried red peppers.

I try not to eat too much fried food, but I couldn't stop popping these into my mouth. So addictive! Who wouldn't like crispy tender chicken that's sweet, tangy, and spicy all in one bite?

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh and/or breast
1/2 cup milk (optional)

1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon rice wine (if not using milk)

1/3 cup potato starch (or corn starch)

oil for deep frying

1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine (or mirin)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste)
3 tablespoons honey (or corn or rice syrup)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
pinch pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped peanuts (or almonds) for garnish

Soak the chicken pieces in milk for at least 2 hours in the fridge. This step is optional.

Drain thoroughly. Remove any visible fat. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Mix with the salt, pepper, rice wine (if you didn't use milk) garlic, and ginger. Let it stand for 20 to 30 minutes.

In a pan, add all the sauce ingredients, and stir well. Bring it to a boil. When it starts to bubble, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until it thickens slightly, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the heat off.

Add the potato (or corn) starch to the chicken, and mix well to coat evenly.

Add about 1 inch of oil to a heavy bottom pan. When the oil is sufficiently hot (350°F or starts smoking), drop the chicken pieces in one at a time. Fry them in two batches. Overcrowding will drop the oil temperature too quickly. Cook until light golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and set them on a wire rack or a paper towel-lined plate. 

Reheat the oil to 350°F. Deep fry again until golden brown, about 30 to 40 seconds. You can do the second frying in one batch. 

Heat the sauce over medium low heat. Add the chicken and stir well until the chicken pieces are evenly coated.