Category Archives: food

Dak-bokkeum!

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This is a dish I’ve been meaning to make for ages but haven’t yet–well, now when I do it, I’ll have a tune to hum. I was also delighted to realize that there’s a dedicated Dingo Food channel.

Anyway, you may have noticed that Block B is in Japan and just finished filming for Premium MelodiX, which is apparently a pretty popular variety and music television show in Japan. They’ve actually got quite a bit lined up in terms of TV and Web appearances for the upcoming release of the Japanese version of “Yesterday”–I’m guessing that getting booked for that 13,000-seat concert has been pretty helpful, plus it would suggest that the Korean version of “Yesterday” has done pretty well in Japan already. It’s nice to see the ball still rolling in that market.

Pajeon: The jeon of pa

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In times like these, comfort food takes on a great importance, and one of the few things that have made me happy this past week has been the fact that I have finally figured out how to make a decent (in fact, quite delicious) version of the Korean savory pancake pajeon.

Pajeon is apparently quite a popular Korean staple, but I’ve never had it turn out right. It’s been surprisingly difficult to get the fillings to cook properly, and when they do, the result has been really boring, even after I bought some jeon mix in hopes of improving the outcome.

In fact, the only jeon I’ve liked the taste of is kimchi jeon. It worked taste-wise because I like kimchi, but like all recipes in which one fries vegetables in batter, you take a low-calorie, highly-nutritious food and, through effort and dedication, turn it into high-calorie, low-nutrient food. Let’s just say that I feel I have better things to do with my time than to make my own junk food.

(Pedantic language note: Pajeon literally means “green onion pancakes”–pa = green onion, jeon = pancake.

So, this was all about…green onions?

But strictly speaking, with pajeon you don’t mix the pa into the batter–you make a layer of batter, then a layer of pa or whatever you’re putting in there, and then another layer of batter. If you chop the pa up and mix it into the batter, technically you’re not making pajeon, you’re making buchimgae, which is Korean for, “Even Koreans use these terms interchangeably. Try not to get stressed–this is comfort food, after all.”)

So I had basically given up on jeon, but then I watched this:

And, man, that dish sounded really good–a blend of eggs, shrimp, and scallops? Plus I still had the better part of a bag of jeon mix in the freezer. I knew I could make this work!

What I wound up doing was basically melding this recipe with this one. (I used the dipping sauce from the Cooking Channel recipe, although since I didn’t have any rice vinegar handy, I just used a third as much distilled white vinegar, which worked fine.) The result was quite good!

What made a big difference was julienning the green onions–cut them into 2-inch lengths, and then cut those lengths vertically into itty-bitty strips. That way the green onion actually cooks through. (I used regular green onions, not the humongous Korean ones.) I also chopped up the seafood so that I wouldn’t have problems with it being undercooked.

So, here’s what I wound up doing:

Note: This made enough pajeon for two servings–at least, I could only eat half of it at one sitting. It was less good reheated, so if you’re making it for one, I’d halve everything–except you can’t halve the egg, so maybe cut back to about 1/4-1/3 c. of water. You want the plain batter to have a regular breakfast pancake batter consistency.

1 cup of jeon mix (I don’t think the brand matters, because I didn’t like the results with the mix I have until now)

7/8 of a cup cold water

1 egg

6 oz. raw shelled scallops, cut into a 1/2-inch dice

6 oz. raw peeled shrimp, cut into a 1/2-inch dice

5 green onions, julienned

2 cloves garlic, diced fine

Oil for cooking

First make the batter: Using a fork, beat the egg alone, and then mix together the jeon mix, water, and egg. As with breakfast pancakes, you want the batter to be mixed but lumpy–don’t go to the trouble of making it smooth, you’ll just have tough pancakes (this is also why you use cold water).

You’ll probably have to switch to a spatula now–mix the seafood, green onions, and garlic into the batter.

I followed Crazy Korean Cooking’s advice to use more oil and a higher heat for a crisper pancake–I heated the pan on high heat for a few minutes and threw in maybe 2-3 T oil for each panful of pancakes. (I didn’t measure, because like Park Kyung, sometimes I live dangerously.)

I know pictures of pajeon always feature these HUGE pancakes, but keep in mind that smaller pancakes are easier to flip. Again, it’s comfort food–you’re not trying to prove anything to anyone here.

Cooking the pajeon properly takes some attention, though: An undercooked pancake falls apart when you try to flip it. Plus, you want the seafood to cook through–but not to cook too much, because then it gets tough. To complicate things, this makes a thick pancake and the batter doesn’t bubble, so you can’t use the old trick for breakfast pancakes and just wait for it to firm up on top so that new bubbles can’t form.

What I did was cook the pajeon on high for a little bit, and then I turned the heat down to medium. Then I watched the side of the pancake–when it was firm and cooked about three-quarters of the way up the pancake, I flipped it. Then I put the heat back up to high to crisp the other side. Then I gave it a minute or two on medium just to make sure everything was well and truly cooked (my mother was a health inspector), and onto the platter it went!

Eat it with the dipping sauce, and it’s damned good!

I found this both funny and stressful; plus, membership queries

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1. Less oil.

2. Lower heat.

Seriously, I was pretty much expecting a kitchen fire.

ETA: I just realized that I understand what he’s singing at the 3:05 mark, “The heat’s too high.” Yes, it is.

* * *

Random housekeeping things: I haven’t put Taeil’s solo event in Japan up on BlockB.com because as near as I can figure (knowledge of Japanese: nonexistent) tickets are going by lottery to members of the Japanese fan club. All the more reason to join that if that’s where you live, but not much use to anyone who isn’t a member. (ETA: Now it is open to the public.)

Speaking of fan clubs: These guys have been offering to buy people into the Korean official fan club. The thing is, you need a Korean governmental identification number to gain access to the fan cafe, which to me at least would be the primary benefit of membership if you’re not in Korea. It seems to me like you’ll get the membership card and the joining goods, and then . . . that’ll be about it, right? You can’t actually do anything with this membership if you don’t live in Korea, because (just like with the Japanese fan club) most of the benefits are geared toward people who are physically there.

I mean, maybe this is something you really want, or maybe you’re going to Korea in a few months and think it would be nice to already be a member instead of having to wait until they open up membership again. It’s not like the USA Fangoods people are asking for some huge fee–plus they’re being very upfront about what this membership will and will not include, and there’s not a lot of “Beware! Scammer!” feedback on their social media. So I don’t see any huge red flags here (you have to act fast, though). But I also don’t really see a compelling reason for me to do this.

Once again, I thought this would be boring

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And once again, I was wrong.

Zico and his dad are opening a frozen-yogurt shop tonight, so Zico posted a photo of the wreaths people sent.

센스들 터지네.. #가게오신분들비오니까조심히귀가하세요고맙습니다^-^

A post shared by 지아코 (@woozico0914) on

(Here‘s a translation of Mino’s.)

And Park Kyung asked, basically, Where’s mine?

So somebody posted a photo of his wreaths:

박경 = Park Kyung, over and over and over again.

ETA: Zico’s reply really lets you appreciate the placement.

And before you say, Why in God’s name is Zico selling froyo? remember his commitment to the food….

엇…! #softcone #icecream #yummy

A post shared by 지아코 (@woozico0914) on

Lazy Korean cooking

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In addition to tax crap, I’ve been focused on doing a presentation for Korean class. I wanted to do something that might interest people, so I did one on lazy Korean cooking. The oral bit was, of course, in Korean (learned a lot of cooking terms), but I also did recipes in English for the class (including jjajangmyeon), so I though I’d stick them here as well.

I think the only part of my oral presentation that is missing here (aside from actually showing people chili paste and the like) is the bit where I point out that instant ramen is not, in fact, truly lazy cooking because it makes only one meal.

 

LAZY KOREAN COOKING:

THE RECIPIES

(in English, ’cuz we’re lazy!)

The philosophy: People who actually cook at home often don’t get hung up on making the most authentic or fanciest dish—if you own a restaurant that’s worth doing, but if you just want healthy, home-made food on the table, you should keep it simple. (If you want the full manifesto, pick up Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everythingdefinitely my choice for an all-purpose cookbook.) Korean cooking works very well with this philosphy, because the majority of Korean staples (toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, chili paste) will keep pretty much indefinitely when refrigerated.

1. Lazy Bulgogi (Beef or Pork)

Marinade for beef: 1 T soy sauce, 2 t toasted sesame oil, 1 t sugar, 3-4 minced garlic cloves

Marinade for pork: 3 T chili sauce or paste, 3-4 minced garlic cloves, 1 1-inch piece ginger, minced (or use powder), 1 T soy sauce, 2 t toasted sesame oil

Slice about 2 lbs meat thinly, mix with marinade. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes (a couple of days is OK, you can also make the marinade in advance and store it in the fridge). Fry in a large frying pan at high heat, going crazy with a heat-proof spatula so it won’t burn—the marinade contains oil, so you probably won’t even have to oil the pan.

Koreans eat bulgogi in everything—salads, noodles, rice, stew, kimbap, sandwiches, pizza, tacos—so follow their fine example, cook up a big batch of bulgogi on the weekend, and have food for the week. When you get tired of bulgogi, you can freeze it until you feel like eating it again. (Simplified from Eating Korean by Cecilia Hae-Jin Leea very practical Korean cookbook.)

2. Lazy Chicken

Just roast chicken pieces (450 degrees for 25 minutes usually works well) and add chili sauce, chili paste, or half chili sauce/paste and half ketchup. Tastes great! If you find chili sauce or paste to be too hot, adding it before you cook the chicken will mellow it. (Vastly simplified from Eating Korean.)

3. Lazy Hot Pots

A hot pot is bascially a stew with Korean flavors, and just like there are a million Western stews, there are a million Korean hot pots. Just try to match flavors you think will work well together. (This is also a great way to use up too-spicy kimchi.) While hot pots are traditionally served when made, I find they typically obey the rule that stew is just as good if not better the next day, making them an excellent choice to make on the weekends to eat during the week, or to make and freeze for later consumption. (But remember that stew should always be brought to a complete boil if it’s been sitting in your fridge for more than a couple of days.)

For lighter flavors (seafood, tofu) I like to use anchovy broth, while beef works better with the heartier chicken broth. There are instant anchovy and chicken broths, but given my experience with instant chicken broths, I prefer to make the broth and freeze it—it’s not hard, it’s not expensive, and it will really improve the taste of your food. (You can always use water, but broth just tastes better.)

With chicken, you save bones in your freezer (along with onion skins and trimmings), boil them in a pot of water for maybe two hours, strain, and freeze. With anchovies, you need:

About a dozen dried anchovies (available at Korean markets)

Two pieces dried kelp (sea tangle) if it’s in big pieces, a big pinch if it’s a bird’s nest

Four cups water

Soak the anchovies and kelp in the water for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a pot combine

Three cups water

One small onion

Four cloves garlic

2-3 dried shiitake mushrooms

Bring the water in the pot to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove lid and boil at higher heat for five minutes more. Pour the contents of the bowl (including its water) into a pot. Return to a boil, but boil it gently and for only 10 minutes (it’s important not to overboil). Skim any foam and strain the stock! (From EatYourKimchi.com)

**EXTRA BONUS RECIPIE!!**

Lazy JJajangmyeon

A Chinese-Korean classic, lazified for you!

Vegetables are considered optional in jjajangmyeon, but not only do they make the dish tastier and healthier, they give up moisture into the sauce, which is very convenient for reasons you will understand in a moment. Traditional jjajangmyeon uses kalguksu noodles, which are yummy but temperamental, and which have to be made fresh every time. The traditional sauce is thickened with added starch. Lazy jjajangmyeon uses sturdy udon noodles, which are cooked in the un-thickened sauce. Not only is this easier, it results in fewer dirty dishes and a meal that is still edible after spending the better part of the week in the fridge.

Start with:

¼ c. cooking oil

½ c. black soybean paste (also called black bean paste)

Black soybean paste is the consistency of tar: I use a ½-cup measure, fill it halfway with oil, dump the oil in the pan, and then measure out the paste into the now-oiled cup. (Use a spatula or a knife to handle the paste, not a spoon!) First heat the oil over low heat, then add the paste and mix the two together. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the mixture begins to smell (pleasantly).

Pour the oil into a big frying pan—maybe even a pot. Add:

Two minced medium onions

Fry them in the oil over medium-high heat until soft. Then add:

½ lb ground pork (or other meat, or tempeh—I don’t like turkey in this, though)

¼ t ground black pepper

Once the pork is cooked through (no pink!) stir in the cooked black soybean paste. Add:

1 ½ c broth or water

1 T oyster sauce

1 dried chili (if you like)

about 3 c meaty vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, potato, radish, mushrooms, whatever—I even used parsnips once) chopped into cubes

Cook until the vegetables have given up their moisture and the sauce has boiled down a bit—about 20 minutes. Then, while the sauce is still a bit watery, throw in:

1 bundle of udon noodles

Poke them into the sauce with your utensil of choice and keep poking them down until they soften up and relax of their own accord. Once they have soaked up the excess fluid and gotten cooked, about 5 minutes or so, your lazy jjajangmyeon is ready to eat!

Note: You can also make lazy jjajangbap by cooking rice in the sauce instead of noodles. Add uncooked rice right after the vegetables have given up their moisture and the sauce is super-watery, and cook for however long the rice typically takes to cook.

(Bastardized from EatYourKimchi.com)