mustard seeds and pork belly buns

pork bun

I got the Momofuku cookbook for my birthday! To break it in, we had some friends over to dinner and I made a bunch of things out of it: pork belly ssäm, pickled mustard seed sauce with pickled cucumbers (recipe below), sweet corn with miso butter, and steamed buns. Well, the buns were my own favorite bao recipe, but I shaped them based on David Chang’s process, folded over into little pockets before steaming, and it worked great. The sauce was killer. The salty-sweet roasted pork belly wasn’t bad either. There were very few leftovers. Continue reading

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kalbi

kalbi

Despite the neverending rain, the lure of the grill has been strong. When we ordered our cow last week, we tried to pick up some steaks to grill for dinner – but the farm is out of steak until the next slaughter. We grabbed the last two packages of thin-cut beef ribs instead, and decided to try making kalbi – Korean-style marinated and grilled beef.

We’ve had lots of versions of kalbi, but hadn’t tried it ourselves yet – the important thing is having the meat thin enough that it fully absorbs the marinade and cooks very quickly. The recipes in our Korean cookbooks used malt syrup for the marinade, which we are temporarily out of, so we pulled a recipe out of our go-to meat cookbook . It worked splendidly, making a sweet, pungent sauce that enhanced the savoriness of the beef.

erupting kim chee

This was also a great opportunity to eat kim chee, something we’ve gotten wildly fond of in the past year. I’ve been meaning to try making my own, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. In the meantime, we tried a jar of Island Spring kim chee from Vashon Island (a much more local product than I was expecting to find). Following the warning on the label, I opened it in the sink – a very good thing, as the active fermentation in the jar meant that the contents nearly leaped out at me when the lid came off. I set the whole thing in a soup bowl and watched as the top layer of cabbage seethed and bubbled. The taste turned out to be quite mild and pleasantly sour – I would definitely buy this again. But I’m also gonna make my own, for sure.

grilling scallions

Grilled scallions were suggested as an accompaniment in the marinade recipe. I love love love grilled scallions, especially with Mexican food – there used to be a local taco wagon that served them – but I hardly ever remember to make them. They are really good – sweet, with a little char. We also cooked up a huge pile of collard greens from the farmer’s market, which made a nice foil for the strong salty flavors of the meat and onions.

Oh, and as usual, the weather was too crappy to eat outside, but thankfully not quite wet enough to stop us from grilling. I am really looking forward to some better weather. Really.

Kalbi (Korean grilled beef)

Adapated from The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 lbs thin cut ribs or steak
  • 1 bunch green onions

Combine the soy, sugar, ketchup, garlic, vinegar, oil and red pepper in a zip lock bag. Put in the meat and marinate for at least 2 hours or, preferably, overnight in the fridge. Flip the bag occasionally to make sure everything’s getting coated.

Get the meat out of the fridge about an hour before cooking, to let it warm up. Remove the meat from the bag, leaving as much marinade behind as possible, and grill over medium-hot coals until brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Do not overcook!

Dump the whole scallions into the remaining marinade in the bag, then lay them on the grill and cook until soft. Serve with the ribs, along with rice and kim chee.

grilling scallions

Revel

Reveldumplings

We visited Revel for the first time just four days after it opened in mid-December. We fell in love. We went again last Monday, and fell even harder.

kneading pasta

Brought to us by chefs Rachel and Seif of Joule (two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet), Revel is a more casual, Korean street food sort of place. The main feature of the restaurant is the huge wood bar that serves as a work counter for the staff and a table for the guests. On our first visit we sat at the bar and had the cooks all wandering by giving us the hairy eyeball to see if we liked the food. Which we did. Oh, yes we did.

shrimp & bean salad

There are salads, savory pancakes, and dumplings…

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Ka Won

Korean BBQ

We had completely run out of udon and soba, not a tenable state of affairs for our kitchen. We decided to make a run down to 99 Ranch Market in Edmonds to restock our Asian food pantry, and as long as we were down there, go out for Korean BBQ. We enlisted a pair of friends to help us out with dinner, which turned out to be a very good thing.

We went to Ka Won, a place I picked more or less at random but which was supposed to have good banchan. It was a great night to sit at one of the barbecue tables, as it was clammy and cold outside and the warmth from the grill was very welcome. With the waitress’ assistance, we ordered a barbecue set meal with black pig, beef rib and squid, plus an order of fatty brisket with mushrooms. We sat and drank warm tea and cold beer for a little while, then the food began to arrive.

the spread

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discovering Korean food

banchan

I can’t quite believe how long it’s taken me to get interested in Korean food. Until recently, my exposure to it consisted of one red bean moon cake that a Korean friend gave me in college, and the pa jun recipe that I got from David Lebovitz that took over our lives for a while. Then some friends (the same ones who helped us out with our taco crawl) invited us to go with them to Blue Ginger, a Korean grill restaurant in Bellevue.

Korean grill

It was something of a life altering experience. The seafood pa jun, chock full of squid, was astonishing, the banchan (a myriad of tiny side dishes) fresh and tasty, and the hot metal shield draped in pork belly, marinated beef, kim chi, sliced garlic and jalapeños just plain fun. We ate a lot of kim chi and drank a lot of beer, and swore to continue our research at other local establishments.

Life, as it tends to, intervened, and we didn’t get out to any more Korean restaurants for awhile. I did do some research, though (as it turns out, there are a LOT of Korean restaurants between Everett and Tacoma), so when it came time to visit the city of Edmonds (to see world-class ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro – no, that isn’t a joke), we decided to pay a quick, just-the-two-of-us visit to HoSoonYi, a tofu restaurant tucked off of Highway 99. It was a little hard to find, as the street sign was only in Korean, but we made an educated guess at the address and found it.

I had read that HoSoonYi’s specialty was their soondobu, or tofu soup, so of course we ordered that. And the seafood pa jun, so as to compare it to Blue Ginger’s version. It was a very good thing that we had already been exposed to the concept of banchan, otherwise the enormous amount of food that descended upon us after placing this modest order might have sent us running out into the night.

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Joule again

dinner at Joule

Ever since our first visit to Joule, we’ve been anxiously awaiting a chance to go again. Honestly, wouldn’t you want to patronize a place that offers bacon butter on a baguette? I have to admit, though, we didn’t order that this visit. Had to leave something for next time.

This was a surprise dinner out – my parents got last-minute tickets to Aida and we all decided to go out together. Four people turned out to be a great number for Joule, since we got to try a lot of different things, but each dish split four ways quite easily. We drank a bottle of very affordable verdejo and had a great time.

dinner at Joule
dinner at Joule

We started with two salads: the “Bloody Mary” with tomatoes and pickled okra, and a mizuna salad with buttermilk dressing, roasted grapes, sliced radishes and whole mint leaves. Both salads were bright and acidic, very refreshing on a hot afternoon. Continue reading

Korean pancake

Korean pancake

We make new recipes all the time around here (it’s sort of an illness, really), and they’re usually very successful. However, quite often we never make a particular recipe a second time – it’s not that we didn’t like it, it just didn’t trigger our “must add this to the repertoire” buttons. There’s a special something to a recipe that you make once, then immediately want to try again with variations – it just inserts itself into your brain and tastebuds as if it always belonged there.

Korean pancakes (or pa jun, or some variation thereof) have turned out to be just such a recipe. I discovered these on David’s blog a few weeks ago, tried making one as soon as possible, and was so smitten I’ve made them at least once a week since then – for some reason always for breakfast (I don’t know why, it just feels right – especially with a pot of smoky black tea). They really remind us of traditional Chinese pan-fried scallion breads, but much much easier to make. Continue reading

first impression of Joule

the bar at Joule

Last Friday we were in Wallingford with no particular idea of where we would have dinner. Or rather, I had ten different ideas of where we might have dinner, but no reservations had been made and I wasn’t craving anything in particular. I’ve been seeing some intriguing reviews of a place called Joule, so when I caught sight of it tucked in beside the Teahouse Kuan Yin, we thought we’d give it a try. It features small plates with a combination of French and Korean flavors and techniques, which sounded fascinating.

spices at Joule

Given the amount of press the place has gotten (the chefs are semifinalists for two James Beard awards!), I thought it unlikely we’d get in without a reservation, but there were just two seats left at the bar when we arrived. The hostess and the waiter were very gracious, and we settled ourselves happily. The bar looks over the spotlessly clean open kitchen, and we were able to watch much of the food prep, although it wasn’t on stage the way it was at Sel Gris. The mood felt casual, and the chefs seemed relaxed and comfortable, occasionally coming over to the bar and asking the customers’ opinions on various dishes.

the grill at Joule

The first thing to arrive Continue reading