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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ต้มข่าไก่ Tom Kha Gai (Thai Galangal Chicken Soup)

Some people believe that ginger is a good substitute for galangal but even though they are both rhizomes from the same family (zingiberaceae), they are indeed very different. Perhaps you could get away with using ginger instead of galangal in other recipes but “kha” means galangal so to make this recipe without it wouldn’t really make much sense.

My Thai friend recommended me to boil the chicken in water mixed with a little coconut milk and then throw the liquid away. I thought this was a bit odd as I’d expect the liquid to be full of flavour but apparently  this is a Thai technique (that some Thais follow) to make sure there are no impurities in the final soup as apparently it should be pearly white. I actually couldn’t bring myself to throw the liquid away and ended up using it in another recipe but it could have another use. If you find the final soup to be too heavy, you can “water” it down with some of this liquid; just make sure you sieve it first to get rid of the impurities (or don’t bother and just whack it all in lol).

Even though this is a soup, it is actually common among Thais to serve it with Thai Jasmine rice and eaten much like a Thai curry.

If you love coconut, you’ll love this soup!

Ingredients

4 chicken thighs, deboned and cut into bite sized chunks

1l coconut milk

1 lemongrass, bashed and cut into large pieces

2 galangal, sliced into thick rounds

6 kaffir lime leaves, ripped in half

3 Thai chillies, cut in half lengthwise

1 1/2 Tbsp. Thai Fish Sauce

1 tsp. palm sugar (or any other type)

Oyster mushrooms, torn into strips

1 lime, juiced

Method 

1 In a saucepan add chicken and enough water to just cover the chicken; then add 1/2 glass coconut milk. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Drain and reserve just the chicken. Optional: You can reserve the liquid and use a bit in the recipe if you find the coconut broth to be too strong but make sure to sieve it first to get rid of the impurities.
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2 Gently heat coconut milk and add lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, chillies, fish sauce, sugar and simmer for 5 minutes to allow the aromatics to infuse. Add the oyster mushrooms and chicken and cook for a few minutes so the chicken reheats.
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3 Remove from the heat and add lime juice. At this point you can adjust the seasonings and add more fish sauce or sugar if needed.
Optional: Serve with Thai Jasmine rice
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Note: You are not meant to eat the lemongrass, galangal or kaffir lime leaves but you can chew on them to extract maximum flavour if you wish.

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.

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3 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.

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4 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.

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5 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.

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7 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.

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Conejo al ajillo (Spanish Garlic Rabbit)

If you don’t like garlic, look away as this dish is packed with garlic; just remember to have some mints handy if you need to socialize afterwards. This is probably one of the most popular and traditional ways to make rabbit in Spain but fear not if you are squeamish about rabbit as you can easily substitute it with chicken; in fact Pollo al ajillo (Garlic Chicken) is also very popular.

Ingredients

1/2 rabbit, cut into pieces

Salt & pepper, to taste

1 whole head garlic

4 garlic cloves, medium-thickly sliced

2 bay leaves

2 tsp. dried thyme (or stick of fresh thyme)

2 tsp. dried rosemary

2 small parsley stalks

1 glass white wine

1 glass water

Method

1 Season rabbit with salt and pepper and then fry along with the whole garlic head until the garlic head is soft and the rabbit has browned on both sides. When the rabbit is half cooked, add the bay leaves, rosemary and thyme.

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2 Once the garlic head is soft, remove and peel (or squeeze out the flesh). Place garlic cloves in a pestle and mortar along with the fresh parsley and pound. Add white wine and mix well.

Conejo al ajillo 2

3 Add garlic slices to the rabbit and then add the pounded garlic and parsley mix along with a glass of water.

4 Cook on a medium heat until the liquid has practically evaporated.

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Pomegranate & Sumac Pork Ribs

Pomegranate molasses and sumac are two of my favourite Middle Eastern ingredients. I was first introduced to pomegranate molasses via Khoresh Fesenjan, an iconic Persian dish featuring pomegranate molasses, and ever since I have been smitten with its contrasting sweet and sour taste. I discovered sumac when making a Lebanese salad known as Fattoush and realised that it never tasted quite authentic until I was instructed by a Lebanese friend to add sumac; what a revelation! If you’ve never heard of sumac, give it a go as it is very versatile and doesn’t need to be limited just to Middle Eastern recipes. I can only describe its taste as tart and lemony.

This recipe was born out of my desire to eat sweet and sticky ribs but instead of making my usual Chinese Style ribs, I turned to my pomegranate molasses and thought that it must be perfect for sweet and sticky ribs and then I saw my sumac and knew that both ingredients were a match made in heaven.

As this recipe is Middle Eastern inspired, the pork element is rather out of place and haram for those of the Muslim and Jewish faiths, so you could just as easily swap it for beef or lamb ribs instead if you are entertaining for people of those faiths.  But, I love pork and pork is cheap in my country…

Ingredients

½ rack pork ribs

3 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses

1 Tbsp. sumac

2 tsp. cinnamon powder

Handful dried cranberries (optional)

5 garlic cloves; 2 chopped, 3 whole

1 tsp. sugar

Salt, to taste

10 baby potatoes (optional)

1 knob butter

Glaze:

2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses

2 tsp. sumac

Method

1 Place ribs, pomegranate molasses, sumac, cinnamon, cranberries, garlic, sugar, salt and potatoes in a pressure cooker. Add enough cold water to slightly cover everything. Close the pressure cooker and cook on high until the pressure starts to whistle (around 5 minutes) and then lower the heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes.

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2 When the cooking time has elapsed, remove from the stove and release the pressure (refer to your pressure cooker instruction manual as each is slightly different). Carefully remove the lid and transfer ribs and potatoes to an ovenproof dish.

3 Mix together the glaze ingredients and brush ribs and potatoes with this glaze. Cook in a preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, basting regularly with the glaze, making sure it doesn’t dry out.

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4 Meanwhile, sieve the cooking liquid and transfer back into the pressure cooker. Cook on a high heat, uncovered, for around 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to your desired consistency. Once reduced add a knob of butter and whisk into the sauce.

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Transfer ribs and potatoes to a serving dish and spoon over with the pomegranate and sumac sauce.

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Pork & Shiitake Wonton Soup

The base of this soup utilises the leftover stock from my Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly.

First you need to make the wontons and then you can either boil them in the leftover stock like in this recipe, make a fresh batch of stock or fry in oil and serve with a dipping sauce of your choice such as Nuoc Cham.

Pork and Shiitake Wontons

Ingredients

Wonton skins

250g pork, minced

5 Shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated & minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2cm fresh ginger, minced

1 spring onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. light soy sauce

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

Method

Mix together all the ingredients except the wonton skins.

Place a small amount of the filling in the centre of a wonton skin. Moisten the edges with water. Fold over and then using a chopstick gently press the centre of the filling inwards bringing the two sides together. Pinch the sides together to close (use a little water to help the ends stick together). Repeat process. You can also scrunch the sides together to form moneybags fold them into simple triangles or form into a myriad of different shapes.

Pork & Shitake Wontons

For the Pork and Shiitake Wonton Soup

Ingredients

Leftover stock from Chinese Style Twice-Cooked Pork Belly

1 Tbsp. Chinkiang Vinegar

Pork and Shiitake Wontons

2 handfuls bean sprouts

1 Carrot, julienned

1 spring onion, sliced

Method

1 Heat leftover stock. If the stock is too concentrated and intense you can water it down with some water.

2 Add wontons cook for 5 minutes or until they have floated to the top of the soup.

3 Add carrot and spring onion and cook for 1 minute if you like crunchy vegetables or longer if you don’t.

Pork & Shitake Wonton Soup

Spicy Tomato Sausage Stew with Polenta

Ever since I realised that polenta is much easier to make than what I was led to believe, I have firmly fallen in love with the stuff. It definitely makes a nice change from potatoes, rice or pasta. The other plus point is how full it makes you feel which for a glutton like me is good as it prevents you from mindlessly guzzling food down. I do love me food!

Ingredients

Polenta:

1 cup polenta

4 cups water

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

1 slice butter (optional)

Spicy Tomato Sausage Stew:

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

3 dried small cayenne chillies

1 tsp. chilli powder

1 tsp. sweet pimenton (or paprika)

4 pork sausages, thickly sliced

1 Tbsp harissa

1 tin sieved tomatoes

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried dill

2 tsp. dried parsley

Method:

Make Polenta:

1 Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, reduce the heat to a low flame and add a steady stream of cornmeal while stirring vigorously to avoid any lumps. Once the cornmeal starts to thicken, cook for around 20-30 minutes. Stir every 5 – 10 minutes to prevent it from burning. It is ready once the grains are no longer hard and it easily comes away from the sides of the pan.

Once the polenta has started to thicken, move on to make the spicy tomato sausage stew.

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2 Fry onion in olive oil until translucent along with the garlic and cayenne chillies.

3 Add chilli powder and the sausages and fry for 5 minutes. Add pimenton followed by harissa, sieved tomatoes and sugar. Simmer on a low heat for 15-20 minutes.

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4 Add oregano, dill and parsley and cook for a further 5 minutes.

5 When the polenta is cooked add butter, salt (if needed) and pepper. Mix well.

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Serve the spicy tomato sausage stew on a bed of creamy polenta.

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TIP: When polenta cools down it will solidify; to reverse this and return it to a soft state all you need to do is add some milk (or water) and return to a low flame. Mix in until the polenta has returned to your desired state.