Soy Sesame Dipping Sauce

Don’t worry, this isn’t today’s only post.  But I’ll be referring to it in several upcoming recipes so I thought it’d be nice for it to have its own post so people wouldn’t have to scroll through a bunch of other stuff to find it.

Although really, this stuff is so rock star it sort of deserves to have its own day in the sun.  I suppose it’ll have to do with just a couple of hours…

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Soy Sesame Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

* 1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce (can substitute Bragg's liquid aminos)
* 2 Tablespoons rice, rice wine or apple cider vinegar
* 1 Tablespoon honey
* 2 Tablespoons water
* 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
* 2 teaspoons Korean coarse red pepper flakes (can substitute regular red pepper flakes)
* 2 Tablespoons crushed, roasted sesame seeds (see note below)
* 1/4 cup chopped green onions

Directions:

In a bowl combine the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, water and sesame oil. Add the pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and green onions and mix to combine. Transfer any leftover sauce to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Note: You can sometimes find roasted and crushed sesame seeds at an Asian store, but I just pan toasted some raw sesame seeds for a couple minutes, until they turned golden, and then pulsed them briefly in a coffee grinder.

Sujonggwa- Persimmon Punch

I’m pretty sure that this punch is popular year round in Korea, but the first thing I thought of when I took a sip was the winter holiday season and mulled wine drinks.  But this drink differs from its European counterparts because there’s not as much alcohol, although you can always add more, and it’s typically served cold

I always thought I had a major sweet tooth but I’ve been finding lately that there are plenty of people out there who like things much much sweeter than I do.  I already cut the sugar in half from the original recipe but found that even that was a bit sweet for my taste.  So start of with a little less sugar- it’s easy enough to add more if you feel it needs it.

This was a big hit around here.  Again, persimmon punch is typically served cold but I also thought it was great when it was still warm… I kept sneaking a spoonful or two while it was cooling.  The yang and warmth of the cinnamon and ginger would be great on a cold fall or winter night.

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Persimmon Punch

Ingredients:

* 2 inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
* 2 cinnamon sticks
* 1/2 to 1 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup honey
* 1/2 cup rice wine
* 4 dried persimmons
* 4 walnuts
* extra cinnamon sticks, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

In a large saucepan, add the ginger and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the pieces of ginger and pour the liquid into a heatproof container. In the same saucepan bring the cinnamon sticks and 5 cups of water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks, reserving for garnish.

Pour the ginger-infused water into the cinnamon-infused water and add 1/2 cup sugar, honey, rice wine and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and add sugar, if desired. Bring to a boil then removed from heat and cool to room temperature. Cover and place in the refrigerator.

About one hour prior to serving, de-stem the dried persimmon and cut out a small piece near the stem area and place a walnut in the center. Place the persimmons in the punch to soften. Serve with a cinnamon stick and softened persimmon, if desired.

Note: Dried persimmons can be found at Asian or Korean markets.

Yongun Chonggwa- Candied Lotus Roots

Aren’t these pretty?  The timing of these was just about perfect because they taste exactly like jelly beans.  I kid you not.  I think they’d be a perfect light ending to a big Korean meal.

I first tried the roots plain.  The texture was great and the sweetness was just right, but they didn’t have too much flavor.  I much preferred the flavored ones.  Ginger would be a great addition but the sky’s really the limit here- just use your favorite extract. If you want to get really fancy, make a few different varieties and use a drop or two food coloring to distinguish them from one another.

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Candied Lotus Roots

Ingredients:

* 1 pound frozen, sliced lotus roots
* 6 cups water
* 1-1/2 Tablespoons white vinegar
* pinch salt
* 1-1/2 cups sugar
* 3 cups water
* several slices ginger or 1/2 teaspoon extract of your choice (optional, see note below)
* extra sugar, for coating candies (optional, see note below)

Directions:

Put lotus roots in a large bowl and cover with water. Soak for 30 minutes. In a large saucepan, combine 6 cups water, vinegar and pinch salt and bring to a boil. Drain the lotus roots and add to the boiling, acidulated water. Cook gently over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes. Drain and rinse several times under cold water.

In the same saucepan, bring the sugar and 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Add the lotus root and simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until the roots are translucent and have soaked up most of the syrup.

Place in a single layer on a cooling rack covered in wax paper. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Optional notes: If you'd like the candied to be ginger flavored, add in several slices fresh ginger when you add the lotus roots. If you'd like to use flavor extracts, stir in about 1/2 teaspoon of your chosen extract about five minutes prior to the end of the simmer time. If you'd the candies sugar-coated, let the roots cool slightly after simmering and dip individual roots into a bowl full of sugar.

Additional Note: Here's how to prepare fresh lotus roots if you cannot find them frozen and pre-sliced. Rinse the lotus root and peel, using a stainless steel peeler, to avoid discoloration. Cut into thin slices, approximately 1/6th to 1/8th of an inch, using a knife or mandoline. Immediately put lotus roots slices into a bowl full of water to prevent the roots from oxidizing and turning brown.

Kimchi Fried Rice

Fried rice is pretty much the ultimate quick, healthy and filling meal.  Although the healthy part doesn’t necessarily ring true in Hawaii, where most fried rice consists of white rice, Portuguese sausage, bacon, lup chong sausage, and few-if any- vegetables.  Absolutely amazing, but healthy it is not.

This kimchi fried rice, however, would likely get a nutritionist’s seal of approval with its cabbage kimichi, loaded with vitamins and healthy bacteria, onions, peppers and brown rice.  The fried rice is great on its own, but topping with yesterday’s seasoned soybean sprouts adds an extra level of crunchiness, spice and flavor.  Want to make it even more filling?  Add a fried egg on top.

This would also be a great way to introduce kimchi to your less adventurous friends and family.

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Kimchi Fried Rice

Yield: 4 side servings

Ingredients:

* 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
* 1 teaspoon Korean chili powder
* 1 cup cabbage kimchi, cut into bitesize pieces
* 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into strips
* 1/2 yellow onion, diced
* 2 cups leftover brown rice
* 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
* 2 teaspoons fish sauce (vegans/vegetarians can substitute gluten-free soy sauce)
* 3 Tablespoons diced green onions
* 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
* 1/2- 3/4 cup seasoned soybean sprouts (optional)

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chili powder and the kimchi and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and onion and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the pepper and onion begin to soften.

Add the rice and mix thoroughly. Add the sesame oil and fish sauce sauce and mix again. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the rice is heated through. Divide the rice into two bowls and sprinkle with the green onion and sesame seeds. Top with seasoned beansprouts, if desired.