Brace yourself for another non-recipe recipe.
The art of recipe writing is a skill in which I could stand to improve. Each time I set out to adapt or create a recipe for blogging purposes, I’m caught in a whirlwind of improvisation. Before I realize it, I’m left with another non-recipe recipe.
Recently, my family unearthed this old Korean Culture Camp recipe booklet.
I don’t recall much about my childhood summers at Korean Culture Camp, except that the tomboy inside of me was terrified of performing the fan dance in a hanbok, and I always looked forward to lunch.
Minnehaha Academy’s cafeteria was taken over by Korean cooking and campers ate kimchi, fried rice, and mandu on plastic lunch trays. Just for the record, I’ve always liked kimchi.
My Korean Culture Camp booklet includes a simple beef and cucumber stir-fry, a perfect meal for a Friday evening. Not quite a week night and not quite a weekend.
I substituted tender pork for beef and spiked the marinade with a split habanero and cayenne pepper. I started by following the booklet’s recipe and added more ingredients to amp up the flavor. The sesame seeds add a nutty flavor that is rich like peanut butter. Overall, it’s a highly addictive dish that I enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The ingredients, below, provide a rough guide for 1/3-1/2 pound of meat. You only need enough marinade to coat your meat. If you do not have mirin, sweeten the soy sauce with sugar or honey until you like its flavor. As you cook the meat and vegetables, savory juices will meld with the marinade and create a umami-filled sauce.
Start with equal parts soy sauce and tamari and test for balance (I preferred a little more soy). The rest of the ingredients can be added to taste, but use the sesame oil sparingly, as it’s very fragrant.
2-3 cucumbers, sliced
About 1/3 lb of a tender cut of boneless pork (frozen meat is easier to thinly slice)
2 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons of Mirin
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
2 scallions, sliced, plus extra for garnish
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Ground ginger, a dash (or a glob of freshly grated ginger)
Optional: Cayenne Pepper (to taste)
Optional: Habanero Pepper, split
- Peel the cucumbers and cut them in half (hot dog style). Scoop out the seeds. Slice the cucumber halves and let them sit in a strainer with a sprinkle of salt for 1/2 hour to eliminate extra moisture.
- Make the marinade by combining a couple tablespoons each of mirin and soy sauce. Taste for balance, and add more soy sauce, mirin, or sugar if needed.
- Stir in the sesame oil, chopped scallion, sesame seeds, ginger, black pepper. If you like things hot, add cayenne pepper. If you like things hotter, try splitting open a fresh habanero pepper and allowing it to soak in the marinade.
- Add the thinly sliced pork to the marinade and allow the flavors to mingle for at least 15-minutes.
- Preheat a pan over medium-high heat with a couple tablespoons of oil (not olive oil). Stir-fry the mushrooms until tender and caramelized and set aside. Then, add the beef with its marinade and stir-fry.
- Add the sliced cucumber to the beef and stir fry for about a minute. Then add the mushrooms back to the pan and allow everything to briefly simmer, continuing to taste for seasoning.
- Serve over steamed rice and garnish with more scallion.