Korean Style Sliders

Holy poopsticks! This one’s a winner. Seriously. Big time. No joke. Good lord.

We originally planned on having fish tonight for dinner. But as we were meandering about town with the dog, I began blabbing, as per the usual, about meal ideas. I typically ask my husband repeatedly throughout the day what we should eat for dinner. We’re both not quite sure why I ask him because no matter what, I end up deciding in the end. Usually the decision has nothing to do what we initially planned on eating but it always turns out to be good. I guess even though I ask him what we should eat, I’m pretty much having a conversation to myself all day about it.

As we walked under the underpass, the idea came to fruition: a Korean inspired burger. How had I not thought of this before? Well, I probably did but knowing my brain, I go through hundreds of ideas throughout the day, continuously forgetting about one after the other.

Radish. Chili paste. Soy sauce. These were just a few of the things that popped into my head on what to add to the burger. The patty recipe was already done; I ripped it off my dad’s recipe for these AMAZING beef patties he makes. After we had them during our trip up to New Jersey this past Christmas, my husband repeatedly asked if I could make them. Did I oblige right away? No. Should I have? Maybe. Am I glad I finally made them? Yes.

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There’s a ton of topping ideas I can think of at the moment: garlic aioli, kimchi, green onions, some type of sesame oil infused sauce, etc. This is an awesome way to totally customize the food per the diner. Today, I decided to make a garlic, mayo, ketchup, chili paste mixture. It was seriously good. BIG TIP: obviously, raw garlic is pretty potent and unless you don’t plan on speaking for several hours after dinner, you need a way to tone it down. I didn’t want to cook the garlic, mostly because I felt lazy. But I thought I had heard about “roasting” garlic in the microwave so I tried it. It initially sounded like WWII in the microwave but it actually worked! Take a few cloves of garlic (skinned), cut onto pieces, wrap it up in a paper towel and zap it for about 20 seconds at a time until it’s soft. Weird technique, but it works. Dice up the garlic, mix with some mayo, ketchup, and chili paste. It’s pretty damn good.

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Before I go onto the recipe, let me address one last thing: grind your own beef. Seriously. I’ve never liked buying ground beef. It’s chewy, it’s rubbery, it’s watery, and overall, it’s just gross. Well, I’m going to guess you’re probably thinking, “I don’t have a meat grinder, idiot.” Well, ya don’t need one, idiot. All you need is a food processor. Take some lean meat (I prefer top round) and grind away. You’ll be surprised how much better the beef will taste when you grind it up at home.

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Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients:
1 pound lean beef, ground up with food processor
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic
4-5 stalks green onion
1 egg
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
ground pepper

1. Grind up your beef, onion, and garlic using a food processor. Place into a big bowl.

2. Dice your green onions and add to the bowl.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly by hand.

4. Cook/grill your burger to your liking.

5. Assemble on your bun with toppings of your choice.

 

Toppings that I used:
(1) Pickled radish (see: https://kimchiandkogi.com/2014/07/09/daikon-radish-salad/)
(2) Ketchup and sriracha combo
(3) Grilled onion
(4) Lettuce

Toppings I can also suggest:
(1) Hoisin sauce
(2) Kimchi
(3) Fried egg
(4) Grilled scallions

Enjoy!

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Dulce de Leche Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

Well…that was a long title.

It’s about time I make this bread. I’ve seen it endlessly on recipe websites and today just felt like the day to make it. Quite frankly, I’m actually making this because I can’t stop using my bread maker. Don’t have one? Get one. Seriously. It’s the best thing to wake up to homemade bread that cost less than a couple dollars to make.

This particular bread maker (Breville, to be exact) is a bit more fancy than the one back in New Jersey. In addition to making jut regular bread, the machine will knead your dough and keep it warm while it rises. It also has an insane amount of settings for all different types of dough. Oh, and did I mention it makes JAM? Well…not very exciting. Honestly, I thought this was a strange function within a bread maker. But nonetheless, it’s still awesome.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean literally you have to go out and buy a $300 bread maker. I’m just saying it’s pretty amazing…

So, this recipe (which I am sure you have seen everywhere as well) is awesome. Especially if you have a bread maker to do the annoying work of kneading for you. Ok, I’ll stop talking about the bread maker. However, the ingredients are super simple and the best part is, it doesn’t have to be perfect. This was the greatest part for a person who could really care less about making things look pretty.

In most of the recipes I’ve seen, the bread is usually topped off with a powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla mixture. I also think a cream cheese drizzle could work but today, I chose dulce de leche. Did I make the dulce de leche? No. God, no. I’ve seen how people make it by placing a can of condensed milk, unopened, in the oven to turn into a caramel substance. I, for one, find this terrifying. The thought of an unopened can in a hot oven is like a bomb waiting to go off (well in my mind). Considering I’m still scared to open a Pillsbury crescent roll package, I don’t think I can take on this challenge. ANYWAY, I bought some dulce de leche at Trader Joe’s and have been trying to find a way to use. So I did!

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 Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 packet active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon honey
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey. Mix and set aside.
2. In your bread maker, start mixing the flour, salt, sugar, eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla.
3. Add your yeast mixture (once foamy) and knead for 10 minutes.
4. If you don’t have a bread maker, either do steps 2 and 3 with a stand mixer and dough hook

OR:

By hand:

1. In a large bowl, place your flour, salt, and sugar and mix.
2. Add your eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla. Mix to combine.
3. Add your yeast mixer and mix thoroughly.
4. Turn out your mixture onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth. If it gets too sticky, add bits of flour. Continue below…:

BACK to the amazing bread machine…

5. Let your dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place or until it is doubled in size. Brush a loaf pan with melted butter.
6. Roll out your dough on a clean surface. Try to roughly roll it out into a rectangular shape of about 1/2″ thickness.
7. Brush your dough with the melted butter and spread out your brown sugar mixture.
8. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter (I used my ravioli cutter), cut your dough in half, lengthwise. Do the same to the halved pieces.
9. Carefully place one piece of the dough on top of another so that you are left with two stacks of dough.
10. With your cutter, cut your dough (roughly) into squares.
11. Prop your loaf pan on it’s side and start layering your squares. Be gentle so that the sugar doesn’t all fall off.
12. Set your dough to rise for another hour in a warm place.
13. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
14. Bake your bread for about 45 minutes.
15. Allow to cool and drizzle warmed dulce de leche on top. Enjoy!

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Japanese Ramen

Or…at least my take on it. You see, when we were in NYC this past Christmas break, we ate. And ate. And ate. From Doughnut Plant to Rice to Riches to Chinatown Dim Sum, we ate our butts off. But the most memorable was Ippudo, a Japanese ramen restaurant right outside St. Mark’s street, known for its tonkotsu ramen that has a creamy, rich broth.

I won’t lie. I didn’t think much of it when my brother said we were going to get this for dinner. I know I claim myself to be a foodie, but I had never been to a ramen restaurant before. All I thought of ramen when I heard the word was a 25 cent packet that every college student ate at some point. That is probably the most ignorant thing I have written on this blog so far. Ok, well let me be clear. I KNEW there were these ramen restaurants in existence and obviously, they didn’t serve noodles that were flavored with a little silver packet with choices of shrimp, chicken, or beef. But what I didn’t know was the amazing ingredients in a nice bowl of ramen. To be fair, most places I’ve lived didn’t have many Japanese restaurants, let alone a ramen restaurant.

The ramen we got at Ippudo was mindblowing. It was the strangest but most addicting broth I had ever consumed. It was a milky looking broth complemented with pieces of braised pork, soft boiled egg, scallions, and most importantly, a dark, mysterious oil.

At first, I couldn’t tell why this dark oil made my bowl of ramen taste so much better than my dad’s, which was sans the dark oil. But, over time as I stuffed my already full face/stomach, I figured it out: burnt garlic. Apparently it’s called “mayu” and it is essential to this dish. The burnt (literally) garlic has a strange, slightly bitter, flavor that works great with the mild broth.

In addition to the mayu, this recipe is topped off with crushed browned garlic. If I could, I would just eat this by the bowl.

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As I researched for a ramen recipe to adapt from, I struggled a bit. Most of the pictures showed a clear chicken or pork broth. Not what I was looking for. I needed that milky, brownish looking broth.

Through some more research, I found that the milky-ness of the broth is achieved through a lot of work. Which makes sense, since those rich, flavorful broths aren’t created within minutes. Bones, collagen, hours of boiling, charred onions…so on and so forth. Just too much work for my Sunday. So through even more Google-izing, I discovered the use of soy milk in broths. It makes sense. It’s somewhat creamy and doesn’t have a flavor that overpowers everything else. I took some tips from recipes and added my own changes (as usual) and created something incredibly similar to what I had in NYC. But PLEASE make sure you purchase unsweetened, unflavored soy milk. Even the packages marked “Plain” contain sugar. So unless you want a sweet broth…read carefully.

Oh, need I say a reminder for the pork belly portion of this recipe? It’s delicious. It’s like pork candy. This cut is, unfortunately, not too common in American supermarkets. Your best bet is a Korean market. Look for a nice white fat layering. No yellow. EVER. And make sure there is a good alternating pattern of fat and flesh. You don’t want a huge, thick layer of fat and a minutia of flesh. Think of a good cut of bacon.

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So, is this a difficult recipe? No…at least not for a semi-experienced cook. It does require a bit of time though and a decent attention span. More so for the braising of the pork belly because that takes at least 2 hours and can burn easily. Add other ingredients to your liking, such as sprouts and onions. I added a LOT of scallions and while they tasted great, I’m sure the aftermath of scallion-breath wasn’t pleasing to those around me.

FYI make sure to soft boil the egg. I clearly completely forgot to take my eggs off the stove in time…but a full proof way to get soft boiled eggs is to simply place your eggs in a pot of water, set it on max. high and let it come to a boil for 10.5 minutes. Done.

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If you’ve got the time, take on this culinary challenge and have yourself a nice bowl of ramen.

Time: 3.5 hours
Serves about 3 people
Ingredients:

Toasted Garlic Powder

1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled and diced
1/2 cup canola oil

Burnt Garlic Oil

1 tablespoon of the toasted garlic (from above), crushed into a fine powder
oil leftover from toasting the garlic
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Braised Pork Belly
1 pound pork belly, cleaned
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
8 large cloves of garlic
1.5-2 cups water

Broth
Reserved liquid from braising pork belly
1/2 onion, charred
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups soy milk (unsweetened, unflavored)
1 teaspoon bonito dashi
salt
Ramen noodles

PORK BELLY

1. In a pot that is just big enough to fit your pork, heat up the pot at medium high heat.
2. Sear your pork belly on all sides.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
4. Allow this to boil for at least 2 hours over low heat. Make sure to keep an eye on it and flip around the pork belly as it simmers. (I had to add a bit of water near the end when a lot of the water had evaporated)
5. Remove from the pot and allow to cool. Refrigerate once cooled.

GARLIC OIL AND SUCH

1. In a small pot, add your canola oil and diced garlic and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
2. DO NOT walk away at any point. Garlic can burn very quickly. Allow your garlic (while stirring occasionally) to simmer (while occasionally stirring) until it becomes a nice golden brown. It’ll get sticky but just be patient.
3. Strain the oil from the garlic and set your golden garlic onto a paper towel to cool off and drain. Return the oil to the pot.
4. Once your golden garlic has cooled, crush into a crumble using a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one, I would use a ziploc bag and rolling pin.
5. Take about 1 tablespoon of the crushed garlic and make into an even finer powder. Return this to the oil and bring to a boil over medium heat.
6. Carefully watch your oil until the garlic turns BLACK. Seriously. The oil will become brown as well. Set aside.

BROTH
1. Take your reserved liquids from braising the pork belly and place in a blender with a cup of chicken broth and the onion. Blend until smooth. If needed, add some of the chicken broth to help liquefy it. Strain this liquid to catch any chunks.
2. In a large pot, combine the strained reserved liquids and onion mixture, soy milk, chicken stock, and bonito dashi. Bring to a boil. Add salt to your liking.
3. Assemble your bowl of ramen. Place your cooked noodles first, then add the burnt garlic oil, soft boiled egg, scallions, and then sliced pork belly.
4. Carefully ladle the broth over the bowl contents.
5. Top off with the crushed garlic and enjoy!

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Kimchi Fried Rice

It’s Saturday. The day where I take the time to make the foods I want to eat. Today was the day for kimchi fried rice. Every Korean child grew up eating this (at least, I hope). It’s salty, it’s savory, it’s just everything you want for an easy lunch. The best part is the rice stuck to the bottom of the pan. It’s crunchy and pretty much what I look forward to the most.

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This is also a great dish to add in pretty much whatever you want. You want more onions? You got it. Want to make it super spicy? Go right ahead. But today’s twist was: BACON. I’ve seen Spam used more commonly as a meat component to this dish. But to be honest…Spam scares me. It comes in a can that I feel like could sit around for decades and never go bad. Just not my cup of tea. But! The bacon in this was perfect. It added a nice fat flavor to the tangy kimchi, which matched perfectly with the fried egg.

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If you don’t have a cast iron pan, that’s fine…but I still suggest you go buy one. They are INCREDIBLY useful for any type of cooking. It was great for this dish because (1) cast iron pans retain their heat very well compared to their counterpart standard frying pans (2) it creates the nice layer of crunchy rice stuck to the bottom of the pan. If you have a bottle of kimchi sitting around, make this for an easy lunch!

Serves 2

Time: 35 minutes (20 minutes for cooking the rice)

Ingredients:
1.5 – 2 cups of cooked rice
2 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces
1/4 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced kimchi
1/3 cup kimchi juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon butter
plenty of olive oil (or any cooking oil)
1 fried egg
1 cast iron pan

1. Heat up your pan over medium high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons olive oil.
2. Add the bacon and onions and cook until onions are translucent.
3. Add the rice, garlic, and butter. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
4. Add your kimchi and stir.
5. Add your kimchi juice and sesame oil. Continue to stir the rice as it binds with the ingredients for about 3 minutes.
6. Lower the heat and allow the rice on the bottom to become crunchy.
7. Serve with a fried egg. Enjoy!

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Chicken “Porridge”

Today was hangover central. We don’t normally go out much anymore but I’ve come to one conclusion: anytime there is sake involved, sobriety is over for the night.

So with hangovers comes the need to have food that you won’t projectile vomit immediately. I prefer soups and spicy foods, while many others eat greasy food. Well….we did both today. Greasy pizza at Sam’s Club, pho, and now a hot porridge.

Growing up, there were a handful of Korean dishes that I still crave today. There was kimchi fried rice, dduk-kook (rice cake soup), kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew)…I can go on for a while. But there was one dish that my mom used to make that I could eat bowls of without ever getting sick of it: chicken porridge.

Now, the reason I put quotation marks around the “porridge” in my title for this post is because I just didn’t have the energy to find short grain rice. So instead of the standard thick and sticky porridge, we ended up with a porridge that was a bit more soupy. But it was amazing, nonetheless.

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One other thing I changed was that traditionally, I have known to just put salt and pepper (to your tasting) when the porridge is ready to eat. But today, I made a simple soy sauce-sesame oil sauce that tasted AMAZING when it was mixed into the porridge.

This recipe is great for a cold winter day…although it’s not cold here in Pensacola. It was 70 degrees today and humid. The A.C. had to be turned on…I’ll stop there.

Time: 2 hours

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

Porridge:
2 cornish hens, defrosted and cleaned
1 onion, halved
1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled and smashed
4 stalks of scallion, cut into thirds
1 big knob of ginger, peeled and cut into large chunks
1.5 cups rice, cleaned and soaked in water for about 1 hour
water

Sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 stalk scallion, diced

1. Place your chickens, garlic, onion, scallions, and ginger into a large pot. Add enough water to cover the chickens. (I would say I put about 3 quarts of water)

2. Bring to a boil over high heat.

3. Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow to boil for 1 hour. Skim off any gunk on top in the mean time.

4. Remove your chickens carefully and take off all of the flesh (carefully). I discarded the skin at this point. I also removed most of the other ingredients (onions, garlic, etc.) but it is entirely up to your preference of how much you want to remove.

5. Add the rice to the pot and add in the chicken meat. Bring to a boil.

6. Allow the porridge to boil until the rice is done cooking.

7. For the sauce, combine all ingredients.

8. Serve the porridge with the sauce and enjoy! You can top off the porridge with fresh ground pepper and fresh scallions.

As for the rice, if you cannot access short grain rice, using long grain (like I did) is sufficient. But if possible, get the correct rice to achieve the nice porridge texture.

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