Japchae

Japchae is one of the most comprehensive dishes in terms of variety of ingredients and a very popular dish on birthdays.

This is one of the best loved Korean noodle dishes by Koreans as well as by foreign visitors to Korea. The main ingredients are sweet potato noodles which are combined with a lot of different vegetables and meats. Japchae combines over 20 different vegetables with pheasant meat and was eaten by Korean kings and the royal family.

Korea was colonized by Japan between 1910 and 1945, Beginning in 1920, Korea underwent drastic changes under Japanese rule not only in politics but also culturally including food too. After 1920 Japchae, previously a dish for the upper classes, was commoditised and became available in restaurants dish using sweet potato noodles coming from China.

In 1592 Japan invaded Korea the war, we call Imjin Waelan, lasted for 6 years. When the war finished and Japan retreated, there was not enough food for the people also there was no palace left for the king. It was at this time that Japchae became very highly prized by the King.

There is a written record that two low class men, with power over many farmers collected all the ingredients and bribed the king with Japchae and then, the king knighted them. The other courtiers sarcastically called them the Japchae knights.

Speaking of which,

“Innocent if rich, guilty if poor”, is a well-known adage in Korea.

The Vice Chairman of Samsung Electronics had been found guilty of bribing the former president, Park Geunhye. So, I guess bribery is still the route to power.

 

Gochujang Yangnyum

A teaspoon Gochujang Yangnyum over Dasima and cabbage rolls.

Kombu is the Japanese word for dried sea kelp and Dasima in Korean and seaweed including dried sea kelp is widely consumed in Korea.

This dish is a favourite picnic and party food  and you can taste at moderately expensive Korean traditional restaurants. If you want to impress your friends or party guests then this is the dish that you can make in a short time but it is a healthy and delicious vegan dish.

Gochujang is fermented chilli paste and Koreans often add some vegetable or cooked and chopped meat or seafood to make the sauce rich, less salty and taste to take another level of taste.

You can use this sauce for bibimbap sauce as well as stir fry.

If this sauce is spicy then add some tomato puree, for mine added 2 Tablespoons.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 people

Ingredients

You will need to buy Gochujang from a Korean supermarket or Amazon

For the marinade (Gochujang sauce)

  • ¼ cup finely chopped carrots, onions, yellow peppers, leeks
  • ¼ cup Gochujang, Korean chilli paste
  • 4 tsp tomato puree (optional)
  • 2 tsp grated garlic, toasted sesame seeds, chia seeds
  • 1tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 4 tsp runny honey
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 145g canned tuna

For the rice

  • 300g cooked rice
  • 1tsp sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, chia seeds

For the vegetable

  • 5-8 leaves of cabbage
  • 2-3 piece of Dasima(Kombu)
  1. Drain the tuna in a strainer in the sink. Make sure to break up the chunks of tuna.
  2. Mix all the Gochujang ingredients and put them aside or keep it in a jar.
  3. For the vegetables, if the Dasima is thick then boil it for 2 -3 minutes, if the Dasima is thin then just soak in cold water for 20 minutes. When finished, dry out with kitchen towel. Place 2-3 layers of cabbage leaves on a microwave-safe plate for 40 seconds.
  4. Prepare cooked rice then add sesame oil, sesame seeds, chia seeds and a tiny pinch salt then mix them well. Put aside and cover with a lid or cling film.
  5. Spread a portion of rice covering ¼ of the cabbage leaf and just roll forward, pressing gently and tightly with a mat. When the roll is complete, press inwards at both open ends and wrap with cling film.
  6. Repeat with Dasima too.
  7. Leave for 20-30 minutes, before removing the cling film and slicing to serve.
  8. Scoop your Gochujang sauce on top of the cabbage & Dasima rolls.

Genius Soy Sauce

1.Guk-Ganjang 

mixture ) and brine. The mixture of meju (freshly boiled and mashed soyben) is left for 2-3 months outside in the cold winter months in Korea until the liquid becomes black. The taste is richer and saltier, also the colour is much lighter than regular soy sauce.

How to use them

This is for seasoning soup, boiled vegetable called Namul and salads called Muchim .

2. Jin Ganjang (a mix of chemically produced soy sauce)

This mass produced  soy sauce is called Ganjang, Whe-Ganjang or Jin-Ganjang : It is similar to the soy sauce you see on every supermarket shelf

How to use them

They make a great marinade or can be splashed into stews or used in sauces for meat and vegetables such as, stir-frying, braising, marinating and grilling or dipping sauce.

3. Mat Ganjang or Jorim Ganjang  (flavoured or seasoned soy sauce)

This  is the most commonly used in Korean dishes. It is much less salty compared to regular or Guk Ganjang. This is regular sauce diluted  and boiled with  some vegetable and some dry fish and starch syrup or sugar added. It is easy to use in any Korean dishes for seasoning.

4. Sempio soy sauce for soup base (soba)  

There are many flavoured Soy sauces for cold noodles or Japanese soba. This Sempio brand which I got from a Korean supermarket in the UK  worked well  for my Genius Soy Sauce. Japanese Tsuyu Soba sauce is similar.

To make Genius soy sauce  What you need to buy is

Mat Ganjang 맛 간장 or Jorim Ganjang 조림 간장 (flavoured or seasoned soy sauce) and add Korean Sempio soy sauce for soup base 

You can use this sauce for  salad , in bibimbap, with pan-fried fish, pancake or as dipping sauce for spring rolls.

Why is soy sauce black when soybeans are not? In making soy sauce, protein from soybeans breaks down into amino acids. This reaction results in a black coloured substance.

Kimchi guk(soup or stew)

 

In Korea if there is No Kimchi, then there is No meal!

For breakfast, lunch and dinner all year round it is on your dining table.

This means that a Kimchi refrigerator is a key appliance in Korean homes. I haven’t yet seen someone who hasn’t got one in their house.

Kimchi is the staple food in Korean cuisine.

It is made of fermented vegetables with a variety of different spices.

As Kimchi gets older, fermentation creates the different levels of flavour; at the beginning for the first 2-3 days, it is salty and spicy but as time goes on it produces a vinegary sharpness and the spiciness becomes milder and even sweet. Therefore, old Kimchi is the best ingredient for use in Korean stews, soups, stir fry, pancakes and spring rolls.

The most common ingredient of Kimchi is white Korean cabbage (Baechu) 배추. In the UK Chinese cabbage (Chinese leaves) are less firm, more watery and lighter (around 500-600 g) in comparison to the denser Korean cabbage (weighing around 3 kgs.)

Koreans often add fish sauce, fresh fish or oysters as ingredients of Kimchi depending on the region. This has its pros and cons. For example, Seoul people tend to make Kimchi without any fish sauce so when their Kimchi starts to ferment, the taste is very sour and it can only be kept for a short period. Whereas using fish sauce acts as a preservative and ensures the classic taste.

If you do not need to keep your Kimchi for more than few weeks then I would recommend that do not use any fish sauce.

If you are a Vegan then Kimchi will be a key starting place for exploring for other Korean dishes.

There are about 100 different varieties of Kimchi but typically people will keep the kimchi around 6-10 different Kimchi in their Kimchi refrigerator.

There is no doubt that Baechu Kimchi배추김치 has a deeper flavour and a better texture and you can keep it much longer.

Let me introduce some different Kimchi.

  • Baechu Kimchi (배추김치): “Whole Cabbage Kimchi” generally when we simply say kimchi we mean this type.
  • Dongchimi (Radish Water Kimchi): “Winter Kimchi”, big Korean white radish
  • Baek (White) Kimchi: without chillies,
  • Ggakdugi Kimchi (깍두기): “Chopped Radish Cubes”, Korean white radish but I always make it with Kohlrabi that actually approximates to the best quality Korean white radish.
  • Yeolmumul Kimchi (열무물김치): “Green Water Kimchi”, Tokyo turnips in UK
  • Nabak Kimchi (나박김치): “Red Water Kimchi”, Korean white radish
  • Chonggak Kimchi (총각김치): “Whole Radish Kimchi or Ponytail Kimchi”, a little bigger than Tokyo turnips in UK
  • Gat Kimchi: “Mustard Leaf Kimchi”, similar to Tat Soi with horseradish taste. I have made with Tat Soi. It is very similar to Gat Kimchi and this is from the southern provinces where I went to learn regional Kimchi. This is good with pork BBQ.
  • Mak Kimchi (막김치): “Summer Kimchi”
  • Oi Sobagi (오이김치): “Cucumber Kimchi”, this keeps only a few days.
  • Kkaennip Kimchi (깻잎): ”Perilla Leaf Kimchi”, my best favourite. It is the best with BBQ
  • Spring onion Kimchi

 

Bibimbap

Rice with mixed vegetables and Korean chilli paste

BibimbapBigBibimbap is made of steamed rice, assorted “Namul” (cooked and seasoned vegetables). This dish is vegetarian heaven; they might top with a choice of fried tofu, fermented Kimchi (Chinese cabbage) or cooked and seasoned mushrooms.

Even non vegetarians love this dish, they can top with seasoned beef, or chicken, or seafood such as prawns or squid and a fried egg. You cannot disappoint with this dish whatever you add. Some people garnish with finely cut toasted sesame seaweed.

The dish is fresh, healthy and tasty and it is fun for children since they can mix the ingredients to their own preference.  
Continue reading “Bibimbap”

Mak Kimchi

(Chinese or Naba Cabbage)

KimchiBig

Kimchi is THE most popular Korean dish. It is made of fermented vegetables with a variety of different spices.

As  Kimchi  gets older, fermentation creates the different levels of flavours; at the beginning for the first  2-3 days, it is salty and spicy but as time goes on, it produces a vinegary sharpness  and the spiciness becomes milder and even sweet. Therefore old Kimchi is the best ingredient for use in Korean stews, soups and pancakes.

Cambridge is a very small city and you can get around easily by bike or foot. It attracts a wide range of people, often students and academics, from all over the world. However there is only one tiny Korean supermarket well outside the town centre. Their range is limited because they sell other oriental food too so this does not satisfy fans of Korean food. So for these reasons, I have tried to find very similar ingredients from an English supermarket.
Continue reading “Mak Kimchi”