There are a lot of things I don’t know. Who’s top of the premiership at the moment; the etymology of the word ‘flannel’; why when you press your belly button really really hard it makes your willy hurt. But these things can wait. Because right now I want to know about Korean food. It’s a cuisine I’m not very familiar with, and yet it seems to be gaining in popularity almost daily. Blog posts by Hollow Legs and Girl Interrupted Eating galvanized my legs, belly and mind, and so I set off with my camera to explore the soft and spicy underbelly of Korean cuisine. Not all (cue Jeremy Clarkson voice) went according to plan.
What I love about this recipe is its freshness. Barely any oil, and no salt (and I added none whilst eating). Resist the temptation to stir-fry the vegetables. Adapted from Hollow Legs recipe.
150g sushi rice
1 carrot, peeled and chopped into matchsticks (NB keep vegetables separate)
1 courgette, chopped into matchsticks
A bag of spinach, washed
1 tomato, roughly chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
150g minced beef
For the marinade
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
For the chilli sauce
2 tbsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
1 tbsp sugar
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
For the garnish
Mung beans or sprouts
A handful of coriander
You will also need a clay or stone pot. If not use your sturdiest saucepan.
– Cook the sushi rice according to packet instructions. Put your pan in a cold oven and turn it to 200C. Meanwhile, make the marinade by mixing the ingredients together. Ditto the chilli sauce.
– In a non-stick frying pan fry the minced beef for a minute or so until lightly coloured and just about cooked through. Set aside and spoon over a little of the marinade.
– Bring 2 tablespoons water to a boil in a large saucepan and add the spinach. Cover and steam for 60 seconds. Remove the spinach, press in a colander to rid it of any excess water. Return to a bowl and spoon over some marinade.
– Continue like this, steaming the vegetables separately until just cooked, before keeping separate with a spoonful of marinade. You may need to add a little more water every now and then.
– When the veg is all ready to go and your rice is cooked, remove the pan from the oven and brush it all over with sesame oil. Spread a layer of rice over the bottom and return it to the oven for a couple of minutes to form a crust. Now add the rest of the rice, along with the vegetables and beef in whatever aesthetic arrangement you like (see Hollow Legs’ post for an idea). Bring to the table and break an egg over the top, before asking your guest to give the whole thing a good old stir.
– Plate and crown with a handful of coriander, beans, and sesame seeds. Add a splash of rice vinegar and sesame oil and eat.
Adapted from Girl Interrupted Eating’s recipe.
Makes quite a lot
1 Chinese cabbage
200ml rice vinegar
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp chilli powder
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 thumb of ginger, grated (don’t bother peeling but wash first)
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
– Quarter the cabbage and remove the cores. Slice thickly and place in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water and add the bicarbonate of soda. Mix well and leave for 10 minutes. This washed any gribbly bits off the cabbage.
– Meanwhile, mix together the vinegar and sugar and dissolve. Add the sesame oil, chilli powder, spring onions and ginger. Mix thoroughly with a big pinch of salt.
– Drain the cabbage and rinse. Return to the bowl and pour over the vinegar mix. Stir to coat, clingfilm and leave for a few hours before jarring. We ate it that evening but it’s best, I believe, after a couple of days, and will keep for a good while, if you can stand the smell of fermenting cabbage.
Korean spare ribs
This stuff is the business. Another belter from Girl Interrupted Eating.
1kg pork ribs
2 tbsp gochujang
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp honey
1 onion, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 thumb ginger, grated
– Mix together all the ingredients other than the ribs and mix through the pork thoroughly. Cover and leave overnight, or for as long as you have.
– When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 170C. Season the ribs with salt and roast the bones for 1 1/2 hours, shaking occasionally.
– Serve with rice and kimchi. And a handful of paper towels.
Korean stores in London that aren’t closed as far as I know
Central Point Food Store, 21 St. Giles High Street, London WC2H 8LN
Korea Foods Co, Unit 5/Wyvern Est/Beverley Way, New Malden KT34PH