April 3, 2021

Budae Jjigae

 

Budae Jjigae
So I got my second batch of Kimchi made and I loved how it came out. Just perfect for my needs.....not too spicy or overly fermented. The stuff I usually buy is just..OK, but it is quite fermented so it has a bit of a "fizz" to it.

Anyway, now I need to eat the Kimchi. Obviously I enjoy it as-is, but it also can serve as an ingredient in other dishes, one of which is Budae Jjigae, or Korean Army Stew. The link is to the base recipe I followed, and the lead-in graphic is pretty much what I actually used. Cool thing is you don't need to follow either recipe perfectly....


Budae Jjigae Proteins
The proteins

I am not even boasting when I say that this dish came out beautifully. I was beyond thrilled how this tasted.....it was better than the last time I had it in Korea at a restaurant. Granted I might be biased, but since I bought the ingredients I was able to tweak things to my personal liking, so it should have been better. Things like choosing all-beef hotdogs and upping the amount of my Kimchi.

Budae Jjigae Mushrooms
Added mushrooms
With my (technically old) job I got to go to Korea for two weeks. The company I worked for was kind of a PITA when it came to travelling because they seemed to not want us to use the company credit card to pay for meals, even though it literally was the reason we were issued one. Their rules were almost draconian and a buddy & I went to this one Korean restaurant for dinner where we had a version of Budae Jjgae. The dinner for two of us was pretty much the price of dinner for one everywhere else, but I was paying for dinner with my company card and we knew the company would loose their shit that I was paying for two....that's just how they rolled.
Adding my Kimchi
Kimchi and Sauce


When the receipt came it was completely in Korean! This wasn't actually common on this trip as many receipts were either dual-language or in English. We both got way too much of a laugh thinking about how pissed the ladies processing our travel vouchers were going to be with South Korean Won and Hangul.

Now I would share the recipe here (outside of the recipe card I already did), but since I got it from another site, you should go there instead. Cool thing is on that site you can print out a recipe card and change the serving sizes easily. I would just reiterate that you can be a bit fast & loose on this as you like....it should still be good.

Finished Budae Jjigae
Finished Dish


March 26, 2021

Pickled Red Onions

 

Pickled Red Onions
Listen....I know I've been on this food kick, more like a pickle kick, lately. I'm rounding the turn to the end goal here and to be honest all this stuff has been spread out over nearly three months....it's just that I have been shitty about documenting it all, which is partly why I've been blogging in the first place.

Not so much "something to do" as "where can I find my notes to do this again?" If someone else gleans some good details from here, so be it....a twofer.

Now I may have started with the pickled veggies as whole pickles, but the next thing I tried my hand at were some simple pickled red onions. This was so easy to do and a lot of bang-for-your-buck. These make a great condiment you can put on just about anything. I did two batches and gave a buddy one and he happily reports they go great on his morning eggs.

Now I didn't just make this up out of thin air, but stumbled across it on YouTube, specifically Ethan Chlebowski's channel. He's not my favorite YouTuber.......I haven't really thought about why or why not, but I suspect that a lot of his content just doesn't hit home with me (sorry Ethan....keep up the good work though!), but his video on Pickled Onions....is some good content.


Easy to follow along and right off the bat he pitches why you should have pickled onions in your fridge....and I have to agree.

Pickled Red Onions
Pickled Red Onions

  • Red Onions
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Salt

Thinly slice the red onion and pack into jar. Boil equal amounts water and vinegar and add a good pinch of salt. Bring liquid to boil and add to onions. Seal jar and place in fridge.


I used one of those fancy-schmancy flip-top jars, IIRC a liter jar, and one bag of four red onions filled it damned near perfectly. I found letting the jar cool down to room temp before placing in the fridge helped the onions "pink up" much faster. I tend to let my pickles stay at room temp for a couple days before refrigerating, but that's how I roll.

March 25, 2021

More Pickles! Condiment Pickles

 

More Pickles! Condiment Pickles
I've clearly been doing a lot of pickles lately. I do like cooking, but big meals....they can be expensive and a lot of work....and if you need to experiment and tweak, that's a lot more money and time and....you can only eat this big meal so often.

Condiments on the other hand. Relatively cheap & easy. Sure some might take a lot of effort, but then I get to use those condiments a lot more often than I would for any individual meal. Condiments get a lot more mileage and can lift up a lot of other meals.

After doing some vegetables, eggs, onions, cucumbers, and even Kimchi I figured I was done, well maybe not done....done, but not really branching out any more. I'm going to go back and tweak my basic vegetable pickles and I have a crapload of other pickles to eat up.

Then I watched this video about food prep. I'm not planning on doing any fancy food prep, but I like the channel and I'm already watching YouTube.....


Hmm......I like the idea of a simple vegetable pickle as an ingredient. My earlier vegetable pickles were to enjoy on their own. This is much closer to the red onion pickles, which are awesome btw (I'll post about that later) and outside of carrots & potatoes.....I really haven't done diddly squat with root vegetables, well maybe Daikon, but that's something I should have totally included....note to self.

Finished Pickles

Quick Vegetable Pickle Condiment

  • Rutabagas
  • Parsnips
  • Turnips
  • Carrots

Notice I didn't add quantities here.....I got one big rutabaga and one bag each of parsnips, turnips, and julienned carrots. Peel and julienne all the vegetables and mix well. Pack into jars and fill with brine. Seal and leave to pickle for three days then refrigerate.

  • 2 cups Water
  • 1.5 cups Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 Dried Chile de Arbol
  • 4 Allspice

This is the basic brine........I ended up needing 3x the quantity above, so if following along I'd start with a triple batch of brine. Mix everything together and bring to a boil.


As mentioned before, I could see adding Diakon, but radishes in general would work and if you could get some other colored versions of these vegetables, the final product would look a lit nicer.

Initial Cooking Fail Fixed on a Second Pass: Kimchi

 

Initial Cooking Fail Fixed on a Second Pass: Kimchi
Spending too much time at home usually leads to just a couple options for me: eat too much, watch too much, or do too much.

I figure why do anything half-assed? I can try to do all three.

My attempt for this is largely to try cooking/kitchen stuff while watching TV (well, more YouTube than anything) and then eating said results. Win/Win/Win....right?


Well except for when my kitchen projects result in failure, or at least partial failures.

After doing all kinds of pickles, a bunch of which I haven't even posted about yet, I decided I wanted to try me some Kimchi. I found a cooking YouTube channel that I adore....one of several, that had a Kimchi recipe. I tried following it as close to the letter as I could and....it did NOT work out. I'd love to blame the video, but there was a warning embedded and I can be an idiot....


Too-Salty 1st Batch
Too salty and weak colored

Now I couldn't find an asian pear, so I used some regular pears, which worked fine. Two things I think did not work out, well one definitely didn't work out: I did not get my cabbage rinsed well enough. The end result tasted decent enough, save for the fact it was way too salty.

Ugh.

I had to try again and this time fix that error and one more: I used some Chinese Red Pepper flakes. Nope, you really should use the Korean Red Pepper flakes. Nothing else will work as well, at least according to some other Kimchi videos I watched. I went ahead and stopped by my favorite Korean Market and picked up the good pepper and a way-too-expensive (but so tasty) Asian Pear. As luck would have it I found some cheaper Diakon there and chatted up the owner. He doesn't eat Kimchi, but he makes the stuff they sold there and he told me that he salts his cabbage for 24 hours and rinses it excessively and drains it for a couple of hours.

Kimchi

  • 1 Nappa Cabbage
  • 1 Diakon
  • 2 bunches Green Onion
  • 1 Package Julienne Carrots
Quarter & core the cabbage then cut into 1 inch strips. Heavily salt the cabbage, massaging the salt into the cabbage and allow to sweat out all the water possible. Set aside in an appropriate container for 24 hours. Rinse multiple times and squeeze out as much water as possible. Soak, rinse & repeat until the cabbage is not very salty.

Cut the onions into half-inch to one inch pieces, and the Diakon into desired slices and toss all the vegetables with the wilted cabbage.

  • 2" Peeled Ginger
  • 1 Asian Pear (or a couple regular pears), peeled/cored & chopped
  • 6 cloves peeled garlic
  • 1/4 cup Fish Sauce
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup Korean Red Pepper Flakes
Much better 2nd batch
Better color and flavor

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend as finely as possible.

Toss all ingredients together (best wear gloves!) and pack tightly into jars. Cap loosely and use an airlock if you have one. Set aside for a few days (I prefer about 6), up to a week. When the Kimchi is fermented enough, it'll get a little "fizzy" as it ages, cap tightly and refrigerate.

I could easily see adding other vegetables or ratio of vegetables to customize your Kimchi mix. 


Fixing my Cast-Iron Pan

 

Fixing my Cast-Iron Pan
Not so much a hack as a fix.

I recently purchased a new cast-iron frying pan....a big one from Lodge. It's been a while since I have purchased a new cast-iron anything, and I was not aware that Lodge has changed how they made & sold their products.

My norm was to take any new cast-iron home, give it a good cleaning, and then start the seasoning process. These days Lodge has gone ahead and started pre-seasoning their products.

Sounds like a good shortcut, no?


Yeah....not so much. 

The pre-seasoning on their products isn't the best. The coating is a bit uneven and the end results are not better than just doing it yourself. Of course I just seasoned over the top of what was there and that was OK for a good bit, but not all, of my cooking. My attempts at seasoning didn't fill-in the uneven areas, just took that uneven profile and basically raised it.

Thankfully there is a fix, which I found here:

After sanding down to bare-ish metal
Initial Grind

Sanding it down to bare-metalish was easier than expected. I really thought it'd be harder than it was. Cleanup was more difficult, but still nothing to sneeze at. Then I just needed to start re-seasoning. My oil of choice is Grapeseed oil....because it was easiest for me to find at the grocery store.

This is where it started at.

One grapeseed oil seasoning later
One seasoning later...

After one coat....










Two grapeseed oil seasonings later
Two seasonings later...

After a second coat...

Now I did a total of four coats, and while the bronze color did intensify, it wasn't significant enough in the photos I took. To the naked eye, big difference. I'm not sure if it was the lighting in the kitchen or my camera flash, but the subsequent pics weren't worthwhile.

The finish is nice and smooth now. I'm sure the pan needs to be broken-in and used a lot more, but with a smooth bottom it'll get used more often now.