I have a friend whose mother makes the most amazing pickled vegetables. Seriously, if you put them next to a tray of peanut butter brownies, I might still reach for the pickled veggies. She’s given me the recipe but I’ve yet to actually make them. I guess I get nervous because you have to pre-salt all of the vegetables and the amount of salt needed isn’t specified. I’m worried that I’ll overdo it with the salt and, even after rinsing them, will end up with a several pounds of ruined, salty produce. Hey, it’s happened. Daikon kimchi, I’m talking to you.
But when I saw this soup recipe, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to mess it up. It’s quick, easy, refreshing and as pretty as a picture. Sweet, salty, sour with just a little bit of heat, it’s a really nice way to balance out a spicy Korean meal. If you have a love of sour foods like me (any other Traditional Chinese Medicine Wood element folks out there?), I think you’ll enjoy this one.
I also wanted to let you guys know about a cool Foodgawker/Photograzing-like site specifically for Korean food. It’s called Korean Food Gallery and it’s a great place to find inspiration for your next Korean meal. For you food bloggers, it’s another place to post photos of your favorite Korean recipes. Thanks to Jenny for letting me know about it!
Chilled Cucumber Soup
* 4 mini cucumbers or 1 regular cucumber, seeded and cut into matchstick strips
* 2 shallots, cut into matchstick strips
* 2 teaspoons sea salt
* 4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
* 3 Tablespoons sugar
* 1 Tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce
* 3 cups cold water
* 1 green onion, sliced into thin rings
* 1 hot red chili pepper, seeded and cut into thin rings (I used a red Jalapeno pepper)
* ice cubes, optional
In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, shallots and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and water. Add this mixture to the cucumber.
Add the green onions and mix well. Place in the refrigerator until well chilled. Garnish with red pepper rings. Add an ice cube or two in each bowl to keep the soup extra cold, if desired.
When I was in high school, my parents shipped me away to one of those awful college prep summer programs. I’m sort of a dork so I didn’t really mind the classes but the cafeteria food was another thing altogether. Plain tofu was one of the only edible things besides jello and granola. I began to wonder whether I’d been shipped to a weight loss camp in disguise.
So after a month or so of daily, unseasoned tofu I was pretty much ready to write it off for life. While I’m a huge fan of many vegan foods, I’m much more likely to use beans as the protein source. I sure didn’t expect to be posting any tofu recipes around here.
But then I found a store that carried packages of these cute-as-a-button enoki mushrooms for only 79 cents. And then I feel in love with this soy sesame dipping sauce. And finally, I saw a quick vegan recipe that combined the two. I figured the only things I had to lose were a 99 cent package of tofu and about five minutes of my time.
Well, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve moved past my self-imposed tofu moratorium. Quick pan fried pieces of tofu are smothered, and I mean that in the best possible way, with enoki and shiitake mushrooms and then drenched with that killer soy sesame sauce. This recipe might be just the thing to covert your tofu hating friends.
Pan Fried Tofu with Mushrooms
* 1 pound firm tofu
* 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
* 3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
* 1 bunch enoki mushrooms, approximately 4 oz., rinsed and ends trimmed
* Soy sesame dipping sauce
So it might be a stretch to call this matcha green tea latte a Korean beverage but several Korean cookbooks for Western audiences included some matcha green tea desserts and beverages. This iced version of a matcha green tea latte was so good I figured if you don’t want to beat ‘em, join ‘em.
I’ve wanted to try matcha for a long time but never saw it reasonably priced in any grocery stores. When I saw a packet for under $5 I grabbed it and started experimenting. I thought it tasted best with a mix of water and milk. The water allowed the grassiness of the matcha to shine through while a bit of milk helped add creaminess.
Iced Matcha Green Tea Latte
* 2 cup water
* 1 cup whole milk
* 1/4 cup sweetened matcha green tea powder
* 2 cups ice
* whipped cream, optional
Heat the water and milk in a saucepan over low heat until warmed very slightly (this helps dissolve the matcha powder). Add the matcha powder and stir until dissolved. Combine in a blender with ice and pulse until the ice is partially crushed. Pour into individual glasses and top with whipped cream, if desired.
Although South Korea has so many great healthy foods this deep fried dish sounded so interesting and looked too pretty to resist. Sweet potatoes are pre-baked, deep fried and then dipped in a almond syrup before getting a sprinkling of black sesame seeds. These are great if you have a major sweet tooth. I also made a variation with a french fry shape that just got a very light drizzle of syrup and a fair amount of salt sprinkled on top. Sweet and savory, this preparation was my far my preference of the two.
I used the sweet potatoes that I found at the Asian market; it wasn’t until I peeled them that I realized they weren’t orange inside. Feel free to use your favorite sweet potato variety- a purple Okinawan sweet potato would also look pretty with this preparation.
This was my first time ever using black sesame seeds. A good friend told me his grandfather, at the advice of his doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, used black sesame seeds to keep from his hair from graying. I’m not quite at the stage of worrying about that just yet but I’ll be sure to file that piece of information away in the mental bank for the future…
Sweet Potatoes with Almond Syrup
* 3 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled
* 1/4 cup light brown sugar
* 1/4 cup water
* 2 almonds, crushed
* vegetable oil for deep frying
* approximately 1 Tablespoon black sesame seeds
* salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the sweet potatoes into bitesize slices or strips shaped like french fries. Soak them in a large bowl full of water to remove some of the starch. Drain and place on a baking sheet.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the sweet potato has softened slightly but is not cooked through.
Combine the light brown sugar and water in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until a semi-thick syrup has formed. Remove from heat and add the crushed almonds.
Heat several inches of vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a small heavy bottomed saucepan and, in batches, fry sweet potatoes for several minutes until golden. Drain on a paper towel lined plate. Place on a serving plate, drizzle with the almond syrup and sprinkle with black sesame seeds and salt.
Note: If you'd like the super sweet variation, double the amount of syrup (use 1/2 cup each of brown sugar and water and use four crushed almonds). Dip each piece of sweet potato in the syrup before sprinkling with sesame seeds. Use little to no salt for this variation.