By this stage of our sojourn in Deoksin, we’ve done our fair share of slutting around the various Korean eateries in our area. So we thought it might be time to attempt some of our own Korean homestyle cooking! To be perfectly honest, whenever we’ve cooked at home previously it has been as a reprieve from Korean food – our Kiwi taste buds are way too multi-cultural to stick to just one type of cuisine. But lately we’ve been reading about certain Korean home-cooked dishes, as yet un-tasted by us as it’s not the sort of food you can order at restaurant. Our (few) Korean friends always want to eat out rather than have us to eat at their house. This is no doubt largely due to the fact that the kitchens in most Korean houses are quite small but also partly because Koreans order in more than they cook! It’s also probably so that we can be ditched at the nearest bus stop…
Anyway, the time had come for us to diversify our home cooking repertoire and at the same time make use of some of the unique ingredients. It also meant that we could finally start making a dent in the GIGANTIC stack of kimchi our bakery friends presented us with earlier in the year. We have given away quite a bit already but the pile seems to get no smaller…we suspect that it is magic, self-replenishing kimchi.
Our first attempt was 닭도리탕 Toktoritang.
Sounds fancy, right? It’s basically a Korean chicken stew but it sounded like a relatively easy and delicious place to start our culinary adventure. Plus, its freakin’ cold here STILL so a great way to warm the cockles.
To make it we used…
We took 2 skinless chicken breasts and chopped em into chunks.
Then we chopped up onions, a big fat carrot (Korean carrots are excellent by the way) and some spuds, and put them into the pot with the chook.
We added 1 tbsp 고추가루 gochugaru (Korean red chilli pepper powder)…
then we mixed it up….
turned on a flame….
and before you could say 맛있어요 ‘mah shi so yo’, we cooking like mama Kim.
We reduced it to a low simmer and cooked it for around 40 minutes. When the sauce got thick we served it with some rice and of course kimchi – it wouldn’t be Korean food without it.
Verdict? Salty, a bit spicy, pleasant enough…but nothing to really write home about. Oops, we just did.
Thankfully, this wasn’t the only thing up our sleeve. Tofu here is ridiculously cheap. In New Zealand a 300gram block ranges from around $4-$5; here, its less than $1 for the same amount. Being the hearty carnivores we are, we’re not THAT familiar with oodles and oodles of tofu recipes but having enjoyed the various Korean incarnations we’ve had of it, we thought it only fitting to explore some home cooking utilising this wonderfully cheap ingredient.
So attempt number two at Korean home cooking was Korean braised tofu.
First, we chopped up a block of tofu, then threw it in the pan.
We added 2 tbsps of soy sauce, a cup and a half of water, and a packet of Korean Soy Bean Stew Paste to the pan.
In went a chopped onion, some minced garlic and cheeky squirt of honey.
We let this concoction simmer for about five minutes. While this was happening we got the rest of the dish ready…
We threw in a sliced green chilli, a sliced red chilli and a couple of tablespoons of gochugaru…
together with a couple of bags of enoki mushrooms and some sliced zucchini. Now we’re cooking with gas!
This simmered for another 5 minutes and we were good to go.
Much more successful! This was fast, easy, disgustingly healthy and totally delicious. Feeling pretty chuffed with our intrepid Korean-ness, we thought it only fitting to also visit the local banchan shop and serve our tasty stew with a side of a couple of our favourite sides – one being a sticky, dried, bright-red, chewy fishy-tasting concoction and the other a lovely vinegared quail egg and mushroom mix.
Feeling like we’d made a dent in trying some new homestyle cooking, we decided that it was time to tackle something we eat quite often and make it a little more to our liking…Which basically is a polite way of saying that we wanted to make our own gimbap and leave out the copious amounts of mayonnaise, plastic processed cheese and, yes, Spam.
To start making this final delicacy, we prepared some rice. Its pretty much just normal cooked white rice with a touch of sesame oil and salt added to it.
Next, we added the “other” stuff….
If you look closely at the fillings you will notice a yellow strip next to the tuna, carrot and cucumber. This is damuji, a pickled sweet radish and it tastes really good. Its an extremely common side dish in Korea and also rears it head in a many gimbap roll. So to keep that authentic-ish (ish, due to no Spam) Korean flavour, we bought some especially.
Seaweed goes on the matt shiny side down.
Spread some rice (bab)….
and follow up with these green leaves (sorry no translation), and some tuna…
then proceed to place some carrots, cucumber, damuji, fishcake and brown stuff (also a lack of translation – but yummy) to complete the filling.
Wet the end with soy sauce or water….
tuck it in….
We got quite into it and made 5 nice rolls.
We chopped them up and they we ready to scoff
Verdict – these rolls were tasty as and felt pretty authentic. They definitely were not suffering from a lack of mayonnaise, cheese or Spam.
So there you have it – two brand new homestyle Korean dishes AND a reinvented trusty old favourite. Of course, now we’re totally over-dosed on Korean food and dreaming of juicy slabs of New Zealand steak…