Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Korean Trivia (cooking)

Ssal (Rice)
Use Calrose rice. It is sticky short grain rice. In Korean cooking, we don't use fluffy rice which used in many asian countries.
You can add green beans, barleys, red beans, and sweet rice etc...
The beauty of rice is to stick together. Perfectly cooked rice has a shine to it. The best way to serve is to cook just before the meal.
Fall is the season that new crops are harvested, it is the time for the best taste rice of all year.

Kim chi, Kim chee
Kim chi is one of the most signature dishes of all Korean food. It is fermented vegetables with chilies, garlic, ginger, green onions, and fish sauce etc...
There are over hundred kinds of Kim chi, the most famous one is Bae chu kim chi which is made with nappa cabbage. There are many varieties in making Kimchi.
You can add different kinds of ingredients for example, use fish sauce or just leave it out or make it very spicy or not spicy at all.

Here's some sources about Kimchi:

Gan jang
"Gan jang" is the soy sauce. There are two types of soy sauces. One is called "gook gan jang" which is used in seasoning soups. It is light color and saltier and has distinct flavor. The other is regular store bought one. It is used in other dishes such as "Mu chim (salad)" and "Jo lim (hard-boiled dish)". No manufacturer makes good "gook gan jang" so far, so instead of trying to find one I recommend just use regular soy sauce for color and salt for the taste in soups.

Go chu ga ru
It is a powdered red chilli. "Go chu ga ru" is one of the essential ingredients in Korean cooking. Almost all spicy dishes have "go chu ga ru" or "go chu jang" in it. It is one of the main ingredients of "Kim chi". There are many varieties in flavor. Some are very hot and some are not. Sun-dried red chillies are the best. Store bought one is quit useful. Most of households in Korea buy dried chillies and have them ground for them. It is the same as other spices. Don't buy them if you have the access to a raw ingredient.

Go chu jang
"Go chu jang" is red chilli paste. It is hot and salty. You can easily find it in a Korean grocery store or asian store.

Dwen jang
Fermented soy paste. This is a base for famous "Dwen jang jji ge" which is a stew with beef, vegetables and tofu etc...

Garlic. Korean garlic is slightly spicier and has more tang to it. It is ok to use any garlic you can find if it is not from the jar with water. I just buy whole heads and peel them, grind to a rough paste in a food processor. Store in a small plastic container, put it in a freezer. They last for weeks. Just transfer to a refrigerator 2-3 hours before using. Or store flat in a zipper back, score with a back of a knife, so you can take straight out from the freezer, break and use.

Green onion. There are several kinds of green onions that should be used in Korean dishes. "Dae pa" is larger one which is sweeter and has more flaver. It can be used in a soup. "Jjok pa" is more like a garlic flavor green onion that is good for "pa jeon (green onion pancake)" or "pa kimchi", which is green onion kimchi. "sil pa" is the thinner one that used for sauce, dressing and as a garnish. Unfortunately, it is hard to find different types of green onions in the US, so it is ok to substitute with regular green onion that can be found in a super market.

Myeol chi
Dried anchovy. The usage of this small fish is quite versatile. One important role is to make the broth. Add Myeol chi in a cold water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer for 5-10 minutes. You can add a chunk of radish or a piece of kelp. There are several kinds of Myeol chi from tiny ones to fairly large fishes. The small ones usually used to make fried anchovy in soy sauce (Myeol chi bok eum and Myeol chi jo lim). Big ones are better to make a broth.

Ggaet nip
Sesame leaf. This is a very fragrant leaf that used in many ways. The look is very similar to Japanese Siso(shiso?) but the flavor is different. Ggaet nip is relatively larger and thicker. It can be put in a stew at the last minute, used as a wrap, can be cooked in a soy sauce to preserve, and many more.

Boo choo
Korean chives. This vegetable is mostly used in "Boo choo jeon (Boo choo pancake)" and "Boo choo kimchi". The leaf is flat and slightly larger than regular chive. The picture is a longer version that you can find in the U.S, shorter one is traditional Korean chive. Similar kind is Chinese chive which has more white top part and a little tough in texture. It can be bruised easily, so wash with care and less handling while rinsing is preferred.

Mi na ri
The leaves look like watercress, stems are long, lean and crunch. It has wonderful aroma. It can be used in a stew, salad, or blanch and serve with cho go chu jang(sweet and sour Korean chili paste sauce). I usually trim off the leaves and put it in a fish stew at the last minute. You can find in a swellfish restaurant, they serve stews with lots of mi na ri. It is really good, goes well with the fish.

Ssuk gat
Crowndaisy. Add in a stew with the heat off.

Jeot gal
Salted seafood. There are more than thirty kinds of "Jeot gal" or "Jeot" in Korea. The seafood is salted and fermented for 2-3 months then spices are added later to give more flavor. Some like "Sae woo jeot (salted shrimp)" is used as salt in kimchi making and etc...Some like "O jing eo jeot (salted spicy squid)" is served as a side dish.

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