Pacific Rim, Week 11: Korean
Clockwise from short ribs at noon: Bangja Gui, Ramen Noodles Korean Style, Mandu, with Maewoon Ojingau Bokum peeking out just under the short ribs
Ramen Noodles, Korean Style. I never met a Ramen noodle I didn't like. I lived off Ramen during my second year in college, and even though it was just the 10-for-a-dollar packs, I slurped up every noodle. I tried to ensure I wouldn't fall over from MSG poisoning by mixing it up with some of the free condiments from the university's student union/cafeteria . . . this is turning into a whole other post, so I'll stop there. I'll just say that there's something eternally satisfying about these soft, flavorful noodles that gives them a permanent place in my heart, and in my stomach.
Kimchi Jiege--Kimchi and Pork Soup. My mom used to make kimchi in a giant plastic jar stored in our garage. I never questioned why the stuff didn't rot--the idea of pickling was over my head until recently. Knowing now about the preservative powers of vinegar, I was dubious about the tastiness of a soup based on vinegary cabbage; I shouldn't have worried--it went wonderfully with the sweet pork (I've said it before and I'll say it again, meat such as lamb and pork taste sweet to me), and there was a perfect stitch of red heat that laced through the soup.
Maewoon Ojingau Bokum--Chili-hot Squid with Vegetables. "What are those fat noodles," asked a classmate who didn't work on the dish. Those are actually slices of carving squid. The squid was cooked perfectly in this dish, but I felt like the noodles, while tasty, were extraneous.
Mandu--Golden Korean Dumplings. Mmmm. They're dumplings. You have to have a dumpling for a brain to not love them.
Korean Beef Short Ribs. According to Chef, Koreans/Asians like their beef chewy so you can really rip into them. I always figured that my parents cooked meat well-done to ensure that all the little buggies that might be living in the meat would turn to ash. Anyway, while a big chunk of short rib should have a long, slow cook, these thin bits turned out just fine.
Egg noodles. Period. Well, fried, and then period.
Beef for Bangja Gui--Barbecued Beef in a Lettuce Wrapper. I charred up a lot of flank steak for these. Nothing makes you voracious like standing over the grill for a good part of the evening. This was pretty tasty, though, so I call it worth it!
Buy foodstuffs like kimchi from places where you know the inventory is in constant rotation. Just because it's pickled, doesn't mean it can't go "off."
Here, if you're familiar with sauteeing shrimp, you can use the same instinct when cooking squid--call it done just before it actually looks done. It will finish cooking with the carryover heat. It takes just a few minutes. Unfortunately, you don't get the color change you do in a lot of shrimp varieties, but it will turn a bit more opaque. I actually found Chef's recipe online here, so you can brave it yourself!
No matter the country of origin, I like my dumplings the same way--crisped to start, steamed to finish. You start them off in a saute pan with oil to crisp them, flippin them so they fry a bit on both sides, then adding water and putting a lid over the pan to steam them until they're cooked through. When you're cooking meat dumplings like these, don't understimate how long you need to steam them, or they'll be coming up raw!
While you can fully cook the short ribs on the grill and serve them then, you can tenderize them a bit by steaming them for awhile longer after grilling them.
The beef for the lettuce wraps benefits from being grilled, but you neither want to use giant hunks of beef in your lettuce wraps nor slice the beef too thinly and risk having them fall through the grill. Grill them in chunks, let them rest, then slice them thinly to make for manageable wraps.