Just home from my annual winter trip to Korea. I thought I’d make a meal to remind me of the wonderful food I always enjoy there. Remind is the key word, I’m sure the results tasted like nothing a Korean cooks would serve. Constant Companion enjoyed; I’m not sure about Daughter.
This meal was partly an exercise in taking refrigerator and pantry inventory. I had some kimchi, made a few months ago. Now that I think of it, I could have made kimchi pancakes (see Nov 12 post), but my hands were pretty full with the menu I’d devised. Next was the box of tofu which was been in the fridge for a few weeks. Finally, the bag of frozen beef mandu in the front of the freezer. The menu was Mandu Soup and Soy Glazed Tofu with Mushrooms.
Those were the main ingredients, what about the rest? Last week, the supermarket had good prices for green onions/scallions and mushrooms. A package of baby bok choy was hiding in the vegetable bin. I also had a package of some sort of soy noodles in the pantry. So, I was cooking, as they say.
The Mandu Soup (Manduguk) recipe is from one of several Korean cooking blogs, My Korean Kitchen (https://mykoreankitchen.com/manduguk-korean-dumpling-soup/). Sue directs you first to make a soup stock using dried kelp and dried anchovies. Kelp from the Chinese store was in the pantry alongside miscellaneous dried mushrooms and fungi. I used fish sauce in lieu of the anchovies which was not. For the stock, cut the kelp, put it in the water, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Next, assemble the soup. Remove the kelp (and anchovies if you have them) from the stock. Clean the bok choy and chop, add to stock. Chop scallion greens* and add to stock with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp chopped garlic. When it boils, add the mandu. Simmer for a while. I did not add the egg as recommended, if you’ve looked up the recipe.
*Note: One of the Korean food blogs shared a tip about storing scallions. Cut the scallions in half and store the greens in one bag, the whites/root end in another. I’ve done this and they last a lot longer in the fridge.
On to the Soy Glazed Tofu with Mushrooms, a Bon Appetite recipe. Here’s the link if you want the entire recipe – https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/soy-glazed-tofu-and-mushrooms. It calls for a block of tofu, a bunch of mushrooms (I used white button, the least expensive and easiest to get), celery (for some reason I left this out), and seasonings. I was surprised by the finishing touches of lime and cilantro; they did not seem particularly Asianish to me; maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’s fusion. Rather than serving with rice, I used the soy noodles; strange texture.
Here’s kind of how I make kimchi, though I forgot to serve it with this meal. Again, lots and lots of recipes are floating in cyberspace. Kimchi has become a very popular dish in the US, with many variations. I cheated this time and used some sort of mix I had picked up somewhere. Remember, from time-to-time I feel compelled to clean out the pantry, when the stars align and all the necessary ingredients fall into place!
This time, I followed the directions on the package. Sesame oil, fish sauce, pepper flakes, sugar, garlic, a knob of ginger (I love very descriptive that term, a knob), and scallion. And the napa cabbage, of course. For some reason, my kimchi is often white, perhaps I don’t use enough red pepper, who knows. It’s tasty though.
All-in-all, the family enjoyed this meal. I felt like I was able to share a bit of Korea with them. In the meantime, I have to think up another meal so I use it or maybe just make a snack of kimchi pancakes again (see Nov. 12 post)!