Cookbook 149: Our Korean Kitchen

A few years and a few employers ago, I worked near a little Korean restaurant in the CBD, and I went there often enough that the owner would greet me personally and do everything he could to make sure that my lunch friends and I could find somewhere to sit (including moving other patrons). And so it was obvious that I should buy myself a Korean cookbook and try to make some of the dishes myself. So I bought Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo a while ago (not sure how long ago), and then waited for Korean ingredients to be a bit more accessible to me living in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. Last weekend was it, and we cooked a banquet for ourselves and it was amazing.

Not all of the instructions were great, but they were mostly timing issues. For some dishes I had to steam/simmer the dish longer than instructed. See the notes at the end of each recipe. This did not change the taste of the dishes (they were all amazing), and again I already have questions about when I will next be cooking some of these dishes. Overall 4 out of 5 stars.

Crispy Chilli Rice Cakes & Crispy Soy Rice Cakes (serves 2 – 3 for each dish) (recipes combined for ease of stuff)

Crispy Chilli Rice Cakes (ki-rum ddeokbokki)
Crispy Soy Rice Cakes – kir-rum ganjang ddeokbokki

Ingredients:

Crispy chilli rice cakes:

  • 400g rice cakes
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped to serve
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds, to garnish
  • 2 tbsp gochugaru red pepper powder
  • 1 tsp gochujang chilli paste
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or honey
  • 2 tsp roasted sesame seed oil

Crispy Soy Rice Cakes

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 400g rice cakes
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped, to serve
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds, to garnish

Other

  • 3 tbsp oil, plus extra to drizzle

Method:

  1. Make the sauce for the chilli rice cakes by combining the gochugaru, gochujang, soy sauce, maple syrup/honey, and sesame seed oil in a medium size bowl.
  2. Make the sauce for the crispy soy rice cakes by combining the soy sauce, maple syrup/honey, sesame seed oil and mirin in a medium size bowl.
  3. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add in the rice cakes and return to the boil for 2 – 3 minutes or until the rice cakes float to the surface of the water. Drain and transfer the rice cakes to a large flat try. Spread the rice cakes out into a single layer, separating them from one another to prevent them sticking. Drizzle over a little vegetable oil and turn to coat them.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over a high heat. When hot, add the rice cakes, in batches, and fry for 3 – 4 minutes, turning every now and again until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the rice cakes from the pan and add them to one of the sauce mixtures. Repeat until all the rice cake is fried. Thoroughly toss everything together until evenly coated. Plate up with the spring onions and black sesame seeds sprinkled all over.

Notes on these recipes:

  • These bastards stick together like velcro and they want to keep sticking to things the moment you remove them from the water. Be prepared to swear at them endlessly.
  • When frying them, just let them sit for a couple of minutes and then toss. If you stir/toss them more frequently you just end up with one big stuck together mass of tasty rice cake, and that’s not what you’re aiming for.
  • These two recipes are really tasty. If you don’t like very spicy food, just double the soy sauce and have that. The chilli ddeokbokki is very spicy, as you’d expect from all the chilli.

Seasoned Lotus Root (serves 4 as a side dish)

yeongeun jorim

Ingredients

  • 300g lotus root, peeled and sliced into 1cm thin rounds
  • 3.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1.5 tbsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Method

  1. Rinse the lotus root slices under running water. Fill a large pan with water and add the lotus root, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain off the water, returning the lotus root to the pan.
  2. Add the soy sauce, honey, sesame seed oil, and 500ml of water to the lotus root. Put the pan back on the heat, with the lid on, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for a further 15 – 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to 1 – 2 tablespoons. The lotus roots should be glistening and a rich caramel in colour. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  3. Serve as a small side dish with the sesame seeds sprinkled over the top. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container, they will last perfectly for months.

Notes on this recipe:

  • I used frozen lotus root, as it is not lotus root season (and I don’t even know when that is), and so frozen was easier to access.
  • This was one of the dishes where the 15 – 20 minutes of simmering did not reduce the liquid to 1 – 2 tablespoons. It was probably another 45 minutes of simmering, and that might be the fault of the frozen lotus root. So just give yourself more time if you want to make this and only have access to frozen lotus root.
  • That said, this dish was loved by everyone at the table, including a few people who weren’t previously all the fond of lotus root

Soy sauce & garlic steamed eggplant (serves 4 as a side dish)

Ingredients

  • 4 Asian eggplants (or Lebanese if you can’t get Asian ones), cut in half lengthways and sliced into 7cm pieces
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp gochugaru red pepper powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Method:

  1. Steam the eggplants for 10 minutes over a high heat. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl, leave to cool completely.
  2. Once cooled, pour off any liquid that has collected in the bowl and use a clean tea towel or kitchen paper to gently squeeze any excess liquid from the eggplants. Finally, cut or tear each piece of eggplant into thin strips. Place the strips in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and stir well to combine. Leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes, or until read to serve.

Notes on this recipe:

  • My eggplants did not steam in 10 minutes. Mine probably ended up steaming for about 30 minutes until they were soft enough for me to consider them cooked. Your millage will vary because it will depend on what you’re using to steam the eggplants, and the thickness of the skins.
  • We used the gochugaru red pepper powder in this dish and it was spicy. Too spicy for one of our household, so think about how much chilli you want before you use it, it’s always easier to add than take away.
  • The flavours otherwise were really delicious, and I used some of the leftovers in a vegetable stir-fry tonight. Do recommend this dish.

Sesame & soy marinated beef (serves 4 – 6)

bulgogi

Ingredients

  • 450g beef sirloin (rump steak), cut into very thin, bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced or cut into very thin 5cm lengths and covered in ice cold water until they curl up (optional)
  • cooked rice, to serve

Beef marinade

  • 1 Asian or 2 regular pears, peeled, cored and finely grated
  • 1/4 onion, finely grated
  • 1cm piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp honey
  • 1.5 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Put all the marinade ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth (and if you do this, don’t bother grating everything). Alternatively, finely grate the pear, onion, ginger and garlic, and combine with the other ingredients. Put the sliced beef and the marinade into a bowl, mixing thoroughly to coat each piece. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a large griddle pan over a high heat. When very hot, add the sliced onion and the marinated beef to the pan, leaving as much of the marinade sauce behind as possible. Leave to sizzle over a high heat undisturbed for 2 – 3 minutes, then stir and cook for another 1 – 2 minutes, until the meat is caramelised and slightly charred. You do not want to burn the meat though, so keep an eye on it. Pour the reserve marinade sauce into the pan and allow it to sizzle for 30 seconds.
  3. Remove the beef and place it on a plate. If using the curled spring onions, drain fully and pat dry, then position on top of the beef. Serve immediately with rice on the side.

Notes on this recipe

  • There was a lot of scepticism in the house about the pears, but trust me, the pears work.
  • We didn’t have a griddle pan, and couldn’t get our frying pan hot enough to caramelise properly, however cooked as seen in the photo, it was delicious.
  • I would definitely make this dish again. It was really quick to made (apart from the marinade time), and very very tasty.

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