Category: Asian Grocery (Page 2 of 3)

Thai Chili and Lime-Flecked Oriental/Asian/Mandarin/Chinese Cabbage Salad

All of this talk about Oriental salads gave me a hankering for Oriental salad.

Actually, I’ve been craving this salad ever since I brought home my mom’s old church cookbooks.  These old cookbooks are littered with versions of Oriental/Asian/Mandarin/Chinese cabbage salads.

And I have not been craving just any type of Asian salad, but the variety with shredded cabbage and crunchy ramen noodles.  The type I have never made myself but enjoyed at family gatherings, church picnics, and office potlucks.  After a long weekend of over-indulging in Easter foods like ham, turkey, and steak, I made a batch of this comfort salad to bring for lunch as I return to work.

Thai Chili and Lime-Flecked Oriental/Asian/Mandarin/Chinese Cabbage Salad
Inspired by Donna Curry and Denise Bierle Svec’s cabbage salad recipes in the Ebeneezer Ridges Campus Cookbook, 2005

1 small-medium head of green cabbage, shaved and cut into manageable pieces
6 green onions, thinly sliced
7 Tablespoons of slivered almonds
6 Tablespoons of toasted sunflower seeds
2 packages of ramen noodles, broken into small pieces (I used the spicy chili variety)
Raisins, 1-2 handfuls

1/3 cup of vegetable oil
3/4 cup of vinegar such as rice wine, apple cider, or white (or a mixture)
1/3 cup of sugar (or to taste)
Juice of one fresh lime
2 Thai chilies, minced
Salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper
Optional: A dusting of the ramen noodle seasoning packet

Mix the cabbage, green onion, almonds, sunflower seeds, and raisins.

Then, drizzle in the oil, vinegar, sugar, lime juice, chilies, salt, and pepper.  Stir to combine and taste for seasoning.  I chose to go lighter on the sugar and heavier on the tart and salty elements.

Stir in the broken ramen noodles.

If you wish, dust with seasoning mixture from the ramen noodle packet.

You can make the dressing separately to add to the cabbage mixture, along with the ramen noodles when it’s time to serve.  I just let all of the ingredients mingle together, come what may.

Too Asian: Yes, I Am Cooking More Asian Food & Yes, It’s Short Ribs

“Bev, I just want to make sure that the whole thing is not too Asian, ’cause that’s not my style.” 
Those who followed this past season of Top Chef will remember the infamous moment when Heather sternly forbade Beverly from cooking “too Asian.”  Despite the fact that Heather only cooked “rustic American food.”  And that Sarah mostly cooked Italian food.  Or Italian food gone anti-griddle wack.
Sarah also scolded Beverly, steering her away from cooking those damn short ribs again.
I’m more like Beverly that I’d like to admit.  I’m kind of awkward.  I’m Korean.  I cook and eat a lot of Asian food.  I run into walls.  I drop things.  I have a tendency to be spacey.  And I have an announcement.
Things are about to get all Asian up in here.  And they’re going to involve short ribs.  

Traditionally cut galbi short ribs don’t grow on trees in this neck of the woods.  In the fall, I found frozen Korean short ribs at the Everyday Mart for $40 a box.  For my budget, they were pricey, but turned out as good as versions I’ve tried in Korean restaurants.
This weekend, I had a $6 package of non-Korean short ribs in my freezer and I was determined them into galbi.  Fortunately, their long soak in galbi marinade rendered them silky and succulent.

Because this cut of meat is usually slow-cooked, I cut them into slices and soaked them for 18 hours in galbi marinade, to break down its connective tissue.

I served the short ribs along with lettuce for wrapping, julienned carrots, tart kimchee, gochujang, and Thai sticky rice.

Thai rice is usually steamed in a traditional metal pot and basket set.  Sticky rice is a delightful treat for a tired palate.  Plus, it’s a fun, moldable tool to transport food to mouth.  A pot and steamer basket will run about $10.

Both are available at the Asian & American Market in Fargo, ND for $13.  Look for glutenous or sweet rice from Thailand.  I found several varieties at the Asian & American Market ranging from $6-14.

I know what you are thinking. Don’t. 

This meal is definitely slow food.  Plan to marinate your kalbi overnight and soak your rice the morning of.

Marinating Your Galbi
I used the same galbi marinade recipe from my post Flipping Amazing Galbireducing the quantity for my short ribs.  Feel free to vary from the recipe and, as always, add more or less ingredients to taste.  This time around, I reduced the sugar, honey, & soda and added two, thinly sliced Thai chilies.  The Asian pear is essential to tenderizing the meat.

My lovely sea foam green bowl.

1/2-1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
1 Asian pear, grated with juices (available at Hornbachers)
2 Tablespoons of minced garlic
1/2 onion, peeled and grated, with juices
1 Tablespoon of grated ginger (you can leave the skin)
2 Tablespoons of light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of honey
2 1/2 Tablespoons of sesame oil
1 Tablespoon of ground cayenne pepper or fresh chilies
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Lemon-lime soda, about 20 ounces

Simply, mix the ingredients together and add the short ribs.  Marinate in the refrigerator, covered, overnight.

To cook, drip off the extra marinade and cook on a hot grill or pan until the meat reaches your desired level of doneness.

Serve with Thai sticky rice, julienned vegetables, gochujang, kimchee, and lettuce for wrapping.

To Make Thai Sticky Rice
Pour as much sticky rice as you need into a large bowl.  Rinse until the water is mostly clear.  Swish the rice around in the water and gently pour out the water, repeating a few times.

Allow the rice to soak in the clear water for at least four hours.  Since I hadn’t made sticky rice for years, I enjoyed this refresher from Blazing Hot Wok whose author recommends soaking while at work.

Fill the pot with a few inches of water and heat to medium-high.

Drain the rice and pour into the steamer basket.  Place the basket over the pot and cover with a lid.

Steam the rice for about 10-15 minutes after the water starts to boil.  Gently shake the basket and try to flip the ball of rice so the other side can steam evenly.  Keep tasting the rice until its texture is tender but not mushy.

When its finished, place in a bowl and cover with a towel.  You can also buy a traditional basket for holding cooked rice.

P.S.  The oldest 27-year old is now on Twitter.  You can follow me @JeniEats.  

I Cooked A Bitter Melon And I Liked It

In my last post, I mentioned that I love vegetables.

It’s true.  I’ve literally liked, at the very least, every vegetable that I’ve ever eaten.

I especially love the vegetables that received less love such as cabbage, okra, slimy nopales, cooked spinach, and mustard greens.

I even like soggy, boiled brussel sprouts and stringy, pre-frozen asparagus.  And now I can add another veggie to the list.

I cooked a bitter melon and I liked it.

This banged-up bitter melon came from the Asian & American Market on Main Ave.  I’d never tasted a bitter melon, but often see it appear on Chowtimes, one of my favorite blogs, and Paul, of this season’s Top Chef, incorporated the  melon into a “least favorite dish” during the conveyor belt Quickfire challenge.

Squirming with curiosity, I took a nibble of a raw, unblanched slice of bitter melon and found it palatable, despite its bitterness.

Following the suggestions of many online sources, (including this thread from Chowhound and The Bitter Melon Truth from Simple, Good, and Tasty) I cut the bitter melon in half, removed the seeds and white pith with a spoon, and sliced thinly.  A quick blanch in salt water, shock in ice water, and a couple rinses supposedly removed some of the bitterness.

The blanch and rinses mellowed the bitterness, though it was most certainly still bitter melon.  Lately, I’ve been craving sour, vinegary, bitter foods so the bitter melon tasted palatable to me.  It’s highly regarded for its health properties including the management of blood sugar and acne.  Was my body trying to tell me something by screaming out for this vegetable I have never eaten?

To balance the bitterness, many favored pairing bitter melon with a fatty element.  I browned some fresh Italian sausage links with sliced onion.  Then, I added the bitter melon slices, seasoned with tamari, ground cayenne, cracked black pepper, and plenty of mirin.

My verdict:  Tasty.  Not a food I would want to eat all of the time, but I would definitely crave bitter melon on occasion.  Next time, I’ll skip the sausage and incorporate the melon into scrambled eggs. 
Jake pronounced the bitter melon “gross, aptly named, and disgusting.”  He also said it tasted like “tar.  Melony tar.”  
Apparently, Jake has eaten tar.   
How do you bitter melon?  

Cooking Korean in Fargo Part II: Flipping Amazing Galbi

Following my quest to make chap chae, I embarked on a journey to make galbi.

In the Twin Cities, Jake and I have eaten versions of galbi, tender and succulent marinated short ribs, grilled until charred.  The traditional galbi cut of meat is very much Korean, and difficult to locate in Fargo.  My friend’s husband made a delicious version of galbi with boneless meat Hornbachers specially sliced.

To enjoy, try wrapping these short ribs in crisp lettuce leaves alongside steamed rice and kimchee.

In my last post, I wrote about visiting a small Korean grocery store called Everday Mart in Fargo.

When I asked the owner about galbi, he showed me a supply of frozen short ribs that cost $40/four pound box, or sold by the pound.

I bought about half a box which would serve approximately 2-3 people.

I soaked the short ribs in a marinade for 24 hours, using a recipe I found on the Food Network, from Bobby Flay’s TV show.  Yes.  Bobby Flay.  Sounds strange, but the recipe is from a Korean woman named Jun Lee who was a guest on his show (I promise.  I saw the show) and user reviews were overwhelmingly positive.
Galbi Marinade Ingredients:
1.5-4 lbs of galbi beef short ribs or a substitute.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 Asian pear, grated, with juices (I found Asian pears at the Asian & American Market in Fargo and Hornbachers)
2 Tablespoons of finely chopped garlic
1/2 small white onion, grated, with juices
1 Tablespoons of fresh, grated ginger, with juices (I used skin and all)
2 Tablespoons of light brown sugar or turbinado sugar
1 Tablespoon of honey
2.5 Tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon ground red pepper (I used cayenne)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 green onions, sliced thinly
Lemon-lime soda, about 20 oz

1. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Marinate the short ribs in the refrigerator; the longer, the better.  I placed the frozen meat and marinade in a Ziploc bag for 24 hours, squishing occasionally.  The Asian pear will tenderize the meat.

2. Remove short ribs from the refrigerator. Drain the excess marinade, and let them come closer to room temperature.  In the meantime, wash and dry the lettuce leaves and prepare steamed rice.

3. To steam rice: Rinse your rice in a mesh strainer.  Place the rice in a saucepan with twice as much water.  Bring to a boil, stir, and cover.  Immediately reduce the heat to low and let steam for about 30 minutes.  You can open the lid briefly to peek on the rice and taste for doneness, but whatever you do, do not stir the rice before its done steaming.  Otherwise it will become gummy.

4. Cook your galbi in a hot pan or grill.  I used an electric griddle, but use whatever method you have available.  Broiling would probably work as well.  A hotter temperature will more easily caramelize the fat into melting bliss. Leave the galbi on the skillet enough to develop caramelization or cook to your desired doneness.  Lengthy marination will make sure they remain juicy and tender, no matter their doneness.

The finished short ribs were every bit as delicious as those we’ve enjoyed at Korean restaurants.  Juicy, tender, and moist.  If you use traditional Korean short ribs, you will have to navigate around the bone and fat by nibbling and pulling the meat apart with your fingers.  I enjoy this process, but a boneless cut of meat will ensure easier lettuce wrapping.

Try gochujang, Korean fermented red pepper paste.  This condiment is salty, sweet, and spicy, a perfect compliment to the lettuce wraps.

I bought a jar of gochujang (Wang brand) at the Asian and American Market in Fargo.  It worked in a pinch, but tasted sharp and contains corn syrup and MSG.  Our friends’ version was mellower and more nicely balanced, so invest in a higher quality gochujang.

Everyday Mart
707 10th Street N.
Fargo, ND 58102

An adopted Korean tries to cook Korean in Fargo Part I: Searching for Asian Groceries & Chap Chae

The other week, our friends invited us over for home-cooked Korean food and it was magnificent.

The meal left me with a craving for chap chae and bulgogi, dishes I used to order from the handful of Korean restaurants in the Twin Cities.  Korean food is scarce in Fargo.  There are no restaurants that serve Korean food, solely (no pun intended).  Only a few Asian restaurants serve Korean dishes such as bulgogi or galbi.

One afternoon, I weighed my options.

I could pout about the lack of Korean restaurants in Fargo-Moorhead, take a gamble with my money and palate by ordering galbi from a non-Korean restaurant, drive to the Twin Cities for lunch by myself, or learn how to make the food myself.

What’s a Korean that has never made galbi or japchae?  An adopted, Minnesotan Korean who has taken far to long to connect with her culinary roots in the kitchen.

The Quest for Korean ingredients in Fargo
And so began the search for Korean ingredients in Fargo.

Galbi is marinated and grilled spareribs, cut in a special manner (although our friend made a tasty version with a different type of meat), and chap chae is a flavorful stir fry made with vegetables, sometimes meat, and clear noodles.

The Lotus Blossom
2750 Main Ave
Fargo, ND 58103

I bought a few ingredients at The Lotus Blossom, including these dried shitake mushrooms.

The owner of The Lotus Blossom is completely lovely and will go out of her way to help customers understand ingredients and create authentic, Asian dishes at home.  The Lotus Blossom’s selection is smaller than the Asian American Market and some of the prices higher, but is a wonderful place to shop because of the owner’s hospitality, personalized guidance and advice.

Asian & American Market
1015 Main Ave
Fargo, ND 58103

I found a large selection of Korean potato starch noodles at the Asian American Market and each package cost around $3.

They are mild in flavor and remind me of rice noodles, except a little bit chewier.  I also bought a jar of Gochujang, a sweet, spicy, salty fermented red pepper paste.

Mirin is a sweet rice wine.  A must have for Asian cooking.  Many cheaper brands of mirin are made with corn syrup, such as this one.  Higher qualities of mirin don’t contain corn syrup and are much more pricey.

Everyday Mart
707 10th Street N.
Fargo, ND 58102

My friend mentioned she shopped at Every Day Mart for Korean Groceries.  I found the market to be tiny and scantily stocked.  However, I spoke with the helpful owner, who is Korean, and he directed me to a supply of frozen spareribs for galbi.

An entire 3 pound box cost $40, which was more than I wanted to spend at the moment, but he sells them by the pound.  Fresh meat at the grocery store would probably amount to a comparable price, so I bought half a box, plus a jar of kimchee.

Chap Chae
The blog momofukufor2 published a rendition of David Chang’s recipe for chap chae, which mentioned it was published in New York Times Magazine.  I took the liberty of adding pork which is optional.  

Pork tenderloin cut into small pieces ( bought a small package of thin pork chops).
Korean style sweet potato starch noodles, about 5-7 oz
Four dried or fresh shitake mushrooms
Vegetable oil
1 small carrot, julianned
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1/4 cup of green onion, cut into large pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, julianned
1 clove of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons of mirin
2 Tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil

May garnish with toasted sesame seeds (I forgot to buy them).

If using dried shitake mushrooms, soak in cold water for at least 30 minutes or until soft.  Make sure you rinse them really well in clean water afterwards.  Cut into small pieces.  I have never used dried shitake mushrooms.  They smelled horrible, but mellowed after a soak and stir fry.  Hopefully this is normal. . . 

Cut your pork into small pieces and marinate in soy sauce, mirin, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and hot red pepper to taste.  You can choose not to marinate the pork or use whatever marinade you like.  I just wanted to give the pork some extra flavor.

Place your noodles in boiling water and stir until tender.  Mine took several minutes and I watched them closely so they did not become too mushy.  Shock them immedietly in ice water, drain, and cut into smaller pieces with scissors.

In a small amount of vegetable oil (not olive oil), stir fry the pork until cooked and set aside.  With a little more oil, stir fry the carrot, onion, mushrooms, and red pepper and season with salt and pepper.  Don’t overcook the vegetables to the point of being mushy.  Add the green onion and garlic and briefly stir fry, making sure the garlic does not burn.

Deglaze the pan with the mirin and stir in the noodles.

Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar.  Combine until the sauce is reduced a little bit.  Add more soy sauce if necessary.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy feeling a little bit more Korean!
Coming up next: Flipping amazing galbi.  
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