Yukhoe육회(Korean Raw Marinated Beef)

Yukhoe is certainly not yuck nor a hoe although the thought of eating raw meat for some people can make them heave. I am not one of those people though as I have no qualms about eating raw meat, fish, eggs or anything else.

Yukhoe can be part of Bibimbap where it is slightly cooked in residual heat or as a standalone dish, often served with Nashi Pear. When I make it for Bibimbap, I usually make extra because I love this dish on its own, completely raw and delicious.

It’s best to buy the beef for this dish at your local butchers as they can advise you on the best cut of meat; just ask them for the freshest meat that is very lean and can be eaten raw. The beef needs to be thinly sliced so it’s best if the meat if half frozen so that it is easier to cut, if not just get your butcher to cut it as thinly as possible.

Ingredients

4 slices beef, thinly sliced and cut into strips

3 garlic cloves

1 1/2 Tbsp. light soy sauce

1 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. pure sesame oil

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Method

1 Pound garlic cloves in a pestle and mortar into a paste and add to the thinly sliced beef.yukhoee1

2 Marinate the beef with light soy sauce, honey, pure sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Mix well and enjoy.  You can eat it straightaway or make in advance. yukhoee2

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Dolsot Bibimbap 돌솥 비빔밥 (Korean Mixed Rice)

In its purest form, Bibimbap is basically as bowl of rice mixed with a variety of vegetables and from then on it can be as simple or elaborate as you like. White rice goes on the bottom and then a myriad of ingredients are placed on top and finally mixed together. Typical toppings can include seasoned beansprouts, carrots, spinach, cucumber, courgette, gosari (fern bracken), doraji (bellflower root) along with Gochujang, Yukhoe (marinated raw beef) and a raw egg yolk (or fried egg for those who are a bit hypochondriac).

The different colours present in Bibimbap is highly symbolic to the Korean psyche as it is a clear example of Obangsaek, a Korean philosophy which is meant to harmonise nature with the human body. There are five colours (blue or green, red, yellow, white & black) which form obangsaek representing the five cardinal directions (east, south, centre, west & north) and the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal & water).

Sometimes, Bibimbap is cooked in a Dolsot (Hot stone pot) but it is not essential. I actually used a typical Spanish earthenware pot instead. The advantage of using a dolsot (or earthenware pot, maybe even works in a normal pot) is that the rice touching the pot will crisp up transform into Nurungji (누룽지), much like the highly prized Socarrat in a proper Spanish Paella.

Ingredients

2 cups cooked short grain rice (sushi rice is good)

Beansprouts

Spinach

1 carrot, cut into matchsticks

1 small cucumber, cut in half moons

Garlic, pounded

Toasted sesame seeds

Pure sesame oil

1 egg yolk

Yukhoe (optional)

1 Tbsp. Gochujang

1 spring onion, finely chopped (optional if you make Kongnamul Guk)

White pepper, to taste (optional if you make Kongnamul Guk)

Method 

1 Blanch spinach in boiling water and then rinse with cold water. Do not throw away the hot water. Season the blanched spinach with salt, 1 tsp garlic, 2 tsp pure sesame oil and some toasted sesame seeds. Reserve.bibimbap12 Cook beansprouts in a pot of boiling water from blanching the spinach for 10 minutes and make sure the lid is on as otherwise it can smell really bad. Once they have cooked, remove them and season with salt, 1 tsp garlic, 2 tsp pure sesame oil and some toasted sesame seeds. Optionally, you can leave some beansprouts in the water and make Kongnamul Guk (Beansprout Soup) to go with the Bibimbap. bibimbap23 Lightly fry  the carrot and then season with salt, 1 tsp garlic, 2 tsp pure sesame oil. Reserve.

4 Lightly fry the cucumber and then season with salt, 1 tsp garlic, 2 tsp pure sesame oil and sesame seeds. Reservebibimbap3Assembly:

1 Heat a dolsot (or earthenware pot) and then add 2 tsp. sesame oil and the cooked rice and flatten down. Arrange the beansprouts, spinach, carrots and cucumber in small bunches on top of the rice. Add the yukhoe, gochujang and place the egg yolk in the centre. Cook the dolsot on a medium heat for a few minutes. You should hear sizzling, this is where the Nurungji is achieved.

2 After a few minutes, mix everything well and dig in!  bibimbap4For the Kongnamul Guk (optional): 

Season the water from making the beansprouts with salt, white pepper and garnish with spring onions. Serve this soup alongside the Bibimbap if you wish. bibimbap5guk

Daeji Bulgogi 돼지불고기(Korean Spicy BBQ Pork Belly)

Gogigui (Korean BBQ) is a meat lovers paradise whereby a myriad of different meats are cooked on a BBQ placed in the centre of your table. It’s a great social gathering as each person can cook whatever meat their heart desires and to the doneness that they prefer. Typically, this meat is then slathered with ssamjang sauce and rolled in lettuce or perilla leaves; much like a Korean-style taco. The most popular gogigui meats include bulgogi (marinated beef sirloin), samgyeopsal (unmarinated pork belly), dak (chicken) and galbi (short ribs).

Today’s recipe is a variation of samgyeopsal and bulgogi. The meat used in this recipe is the same as samgyeopsal but instead of being plain it is marinated in a sauce similar to bulgogi but with an added kick of spiciness coming from a mixture of gochujang and gochugaru.

If you don’t have a BBQ set up you can still make this recipe and just cook it on a grill pan (or even a normal frying pan) on your kitchen stove or even in the oven.

Ingredients

750kg pork belly, thinly sliced

For the marinade:

6cm fresh ginger

6 garlic cloves

1 nashi pear, peeled and cored

2 Tbsp. honey

4 Tbsp. gochujang

1 Tbsp. gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes)

2 tsp. pure sesame oil

2 Tbsp. light soy sauce

Black pepper, to taste

2 spring onions, chopped

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Method

1 Mince garlic and ginger in a food processor (or by hand) and then add nashi pear. Blend into a smooth puree and transfer into a large bowl.

2 To this bowl add honey, gochujang, gochugaru, pure sesame oil, light soy sauce, black pepper, spring onions and toasted sesame seeds. Mix well and then use this mixture to marinade the pork belly. Leave to rest for at least 30 minutes or preferably overnight.dsc01418_fotor_collageCook on a BBQ grill until lightly charred on each side.Optionally, you can roll the meat in a lettuce or perilla leaf with a dollop of Ssamjang and gobble up.daejibulgogi

Ssamjang 쌈장(Korean Wrapping Sauce)

Ssamjang is used primarily in Korean BBQ whereby a piece of meat is wrapped in lettuce (or perilla leaves if you can get your hands on them) along with a dollop of Ssamjang. It can also be used as a dip for crudites or even crisps (potato chips if you’re American).

Many people buy the prepared Ssamjang sauce from Asian supermarkets but it’s so damn easy to make so why not to do it yourself? The main ingredients include Gochujang and Doenjang which can be used in a myriad of other dishes should you have any left over so it’s not a waste to buy them. Try making my Doenjang Jjigae (Fermented Soybean Stew) or my Daeji Bulgogi (Korean Spicy BBQ Pork Belly) with whatever Doenjang and Gochujang you have left over from making Ssamjang.

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. Doenjang

1 1/2 Tbsp. Gochujang

2 Tbsp. honey

3 tsp. pure sesame oil

1/2 onion, finely diced

1 spring onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Method

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until needed. It’s that easy! ssamjang

Japchae 잡채 (Korean Sweet Potato Noodle Stir-Fry)

Every time I think of Korean cooking I get excited because I think I have a good excuse to use liberal amounts of gochujang. I must admit that I was kinda sad when I realised that Japchae calls for none of it. I guess I’ll have to get my gochujang fix another day; probably by smothering these dangmyeon noodles with gochujang.

Dangmyeon noodles 당면 (the ones in this recipe) are made with sweet potato and are especially great for those with celiac disease or those who are/or think they are sensitive to gluten and I guess would it would also be appreciated by those in the Paleo Diet Movement. For the rest of us mere mortals, these noodles are also great.

Originally, Japchae is made with beef but I decided to change to chicken because a) it’s cheaper and b) it’s what I had in the fridge. You can omit the meat altogether and make this a vegan dish by marinating just the shiitake mushrooms in the first step.  Also, you can add as many vegetables as you like but again I just used what was in my fridge; feel free to get creative and go wild.

This recipe calls for jidan (지단) which is a very popular type of garnish used in Korean cooking. Separating the yolk and white and making two different coloured (yellow and white) garnishes has the added bonus of harmonising Obangsaek (오방색) which is important in Korean culture. Obangsaek is the traditional Korean colour spectrum and is applied to all elements of traditional Korean elements such as clothing, symbols, architecture and of course, food. The colours (blue, red, yellow, white, black) represent five cardinal directions (east, south, centre, west, north) and five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water). Obangsaek in cooking is thought to ensure a physically and spiritually nutritious meal for all the five vital organs in the body and keeping life in the balance. Green (a combination of blue and yellow) is often substituted for blue as blue is not present naturally in many foods.

Ingredients

200g Dangmyeon noodles (Korean Sweet Potato noodles)

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized strips (can substitute for beef or completely omit)

8 shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and cut into strips

Soy sauce

Sesame oil

Sugar

2 garlic cloves

Black pepper

Spinach

2 eggs

1 onion, sliced

2 carrots, julienned

Method

1 Marinade chicken and shiitake mushrooms with 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, 1 Tbsp. sugar, freshly ground black pepper, 1 minced garlic clove. Mix well and refrigerate until needed. Note: You can make this in advance and marinade the ingredients overnight.

2 Blanch spinach in boiling water for circa 30 seconds. Rinse in cold water and squeeze with hands to remove excess water. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.japchae-13 In the same boiling water, add the dangmyeon noodles and cook for 5-7 minutes or until cooked. Make sure you stir every once in a while to prevent them from sticking together. Once cooked, drain and cut with scissors to make the strands slightly shorter. Transfer to the same mixing bowl as the spinach and season with 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil and 1 Tbsp. sugar. Mix well and set aside.japchae-24 Make jidan. Separate yolk and egg whites and beat in separate bowls. Heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan and when hot remove excess with a paper towel. Fry the egg yolk and egg whites separately for a few seconds on each side on a medium-low flame. Leave to cool, roll up and cut into strips.japche-jidan_fotor5 Heat oil in a pan and cook onions to your preference, I like them half cooked. Remove and transfer to the mixing bowl with other ingredients.

6 Fry carrots in the same pan to your preference, again, I like them crunchy. Remove and transfer to the mixing bowl.japchae-37 In the same pan, add some more oil if needed and cook the chicken and shiitake mushrooms until cooked through. Remove and transfer to the mixing bowl.

8 Season the dangmyeon noodles and rest of the ingredients with 1 Tbsp. sugar, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, 1 minced garlic clove and plenty freshly ground black pepper. Mix well and then add the jidan just before serving.japchae-4

Nokdu Bindaetteok (Korean Mung Bean Pancakes)

Ingredients

400g split mung beans, soaked overnight

2 eggs, beaten

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

2 Tbsp. rice flour

1 carrot, julienned

1 bunch spinach, chopped

6 shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced

2 Tbsp. kimchi

½ red pepper, diced

2 handfuls mung bean sprouts

4 spring onions, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

Dipping Sauce:

2 Tbsp. light soy sauce

1 Tbsp. vinegar

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

1 tsp. gochugaru

1 green onion, sliced

Method

1 In a blender or food processor, add the soaked mung beans with the water and blitz until it becomes a thin consistency, like batter. Whisk in the eggs, sesame oil, pepper, sugar, salt, rice flour and mix well.

2 Add carrots, spinach, mung bean sprouts, spring onions, mushrooms, kimchi and garlic to the mung bean batter.

3 In a frying pan with oil place small amounts of the batter and flatten. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Alternatively you can make large pancakes

Dipping sauce:
Combine light soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, honey, gochugaru and spring onion.

Nokdu Bindaetteok_Fotor

Doenjang Jjigae (Korean Fermented Soybean Stew)

As Korean BBQ becomes more and more popular it seems, however, that only this aspect of Korean cuisine has been showcased while the rest has been left by the wayside, much like what happened with Japanese cuisine and sushi.

As much as I love Korean BBQ, I also like to explore the other elements of the cuisine. This particular recipe is an amalgamation of lots of different recipes I’ve seen out there but suited to my tastes. I can not claim Korean authenticity as:

a) Unfortunately, I’ve never had it cooked by anyone else,

b) most recipes call for dried anchovies but I searched high and low for them with no luck so I completely left them out,

c) I don’t really know what it should actually taste like but I’ve made this version many times and it is, to my taste, delicious!

The name of this dish comes from “doenjang”, which is a fermented soybean paste similar to Japanese miso but more pungent and chunky, and “jjigae” the Korean word for stew or stew-like dish.

I am not a vegetarian and don’t think I could ever follow that lifestyle but in this recipe I did not miss meat at all.

Oh and for those who haven’t cooked with tofu before, I think it is worth pointing out that the tofu must be pressed before cooking. I do this by laying it on some kitchen paper and using a cutting board with a pan of water on top to weigh it down for at least 1 hour.

Ingredients

2 potatoes, cubed

1 courgette, cubed

1 onion, cubed

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 green chilli pepper

1 red pepper, cubed

5 Tbsp. doenjang

1 Tbsp. gochujang

1 tsp. gochugaru (or red chilli powder)

2 spring onions, chopped

1 block firm tofu, cubed

Fresh enoki mushrooms

Dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced

Shiitake dashi (Liquid from rehydrating the shiitake mushrooms; make sure you sieve it before using)

Method

1 Place potato, onion, garlic, half of the red pepper, courgette, green chilli in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover the ingredients.

2 When the liquid comes to a boil add the doenjang, gochujang, shiitake broth and gochugaru. Mix well and leave for 10-15mins.

3 Add tofu, red pepper and shiitake mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes.

4 Add spring onions and enoki mushrooms. Leave for 2 mins and then serve.

Doenjjang Jiggae