With the winter upon us, I seek comfort food and nothing says comfort like jangjorim which my mom used to make by boiling beef and seasoning late into the night. I found that Maangchi’s recipe was almost as good and took under two hours. Link (http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/jangjorim).
My favorite food blogger, Maangchi, posted her recipe for injeolmi, a rice cake. Traditionally made from steamed rice which is pounded into an elastic paste with a forty pound hammer, shaped and cut unto lady finger sized pieces and rolled in toasted soybean powder, it would take half a day to make a batch usually suitable for a feast. Maangchi’s method (http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/injeolmi ) makes single serving in about fifteen minutes. It is brilliant and perfect! I did substitute yoolmoo cha as the soybean powder was unavailable. Nom nom nom. And yes Maangchi, I did pound it more than fifty times.
The various seafood stews and soups from various cultures all share one thing: an intense focus on umame, what the Japanese call the fifth taste. This particular stew from Korea, soondubujjigae, outdoes anything. When I order bouillabaisse, it’s because I can’t get soondubujjigae. When I put tabasco into my Manhattan clam chowder it’s because I want soondubujjigae. Now through Maangchi’s formidable web site, I can make a very reasonable soondubujjigae at home. I did make it mild so that my reflux won’t kill me but it has enough kick to satisfy. I did use canned clams and added their broth. The soup, I strained out the anchovies and seaweed, was just a clobbering of umame. The Thai fish sauce which smells awful tastes sublime in this soup.
My food obsessions have fixated on making ddeok, or rice cake. It was one of the few items that my mother did not make at home and thus very mysterious as to it’s manufacture. Below is the link to Maangchi’s recipe for one of my favorites, but the final step eludes me. Pictured is my latest attempt but the problem is getting a good flow of steam without overwhelming the ddeok and basically creating sticky mochi. This batch was almost there but not quite and I had to throw it out.
The seal around the steamer has to be tight to direct all the steam into the cooking chamber. Oh well. Will have to try again.
Among rice eating nations, there is a common dish that translates across national boundaries. Basically, you have leftovers and some rice. You chop up the leftovers and mix it up with the rice. Paella, risotto, fried rice, rice and beans with plantains and chicken, it’s peasant food that when done well is satisfying and sublime.
Bibimbap fits in this culinary niche and I remember eating whatever mom had chopped up and mixed with the rice (bokeumbap), but bibimbap is far more refined. Whenever I go back to New York, I head straight to Korea Town (the one in Queens is better but the one in Manhattan is more convenient), and over several days I fit in several of my favorite dishes. Bibimbap is right up there. Here in the Midwest, it’s hard to get to Korean food, so videoblogger Maangchi has become an irreplaceable resource for second generation folk like me who never had the time to learn the dishes that really make me who I am.
Pictured is my latest effort from Maanchi following her recipe with some personal flair. It is missing bellflower root which I’m okay with but many would consider it sacrilege not to have it. I shrug because that misses the point of bibimbap which is all about quickly throwing together little parts to make a great meal.