Monthly Archives: March 2017

Kimchi-Jeon (Kimchi Pancakes)

Korean restaurants serve complimentary side dishes called banchan whenever you order a main dish. Occasionally, you will get a savory pancake served along side the assorted banchan. The most common style of pancake is pa-jeon (scallion pancake) but sometimes, if you get lucky, they will serve complimentary kimchi-jeon (kimchi pancake) instead. Kimchi-jeon is my favorite Korean pancake because of the heat level and intense flavor. I have fond memories of my mom making a huge tower of kimchi-jeon for lunch. My brothers and I would eat them until we were completely stuffed.

Here is an updated version of mom’s recipe. In my recipe, I sauté the onions prior to adding them to the batter to mellow out their sharp bite and to add natural sweetness to the kimchi-jeon. If you don’t like your kimchi-jeon too spicy, you can replace some of the kimchi juice with an equal amount of water. In that case, you should also add a pinch more salt. This recipe only makes two pancakes, unlike my mom’s recipe which can feed an army. I like to serve it as part of a larger Korean meal with other banchan. Enjoy!

Kimchi-Jeon (Kimchi Pancakes)

Yield: 2 large pancakes (4 servings as an appetizer)

 

Sunflower seed oil or organic canola oil

1/4 cup of chopped onions

1/2 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup of kimchi juice

2 tablespoons of water

1 large egg

3/4 cup of chopped kimchi

2 scallions, sliced crosswise

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

Black sesame for garnish, optional

Organic soy sauce for serving

 

1. Heat a medium sauté pan to medium-low heat. Add 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the the chopped onions. Sauté for 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

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2. In a large bowl, add the flour, water, kimchi juice, and egg. Whisk well.

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3. Add the chopped kimchi, cooked onions, scallions, salt, black pepper, and sesame.

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4. Heat a cast iron or heavy bottom frying pan to medium heat. Add a couple tablespoons of oil.

5. Add a ladle full of batter and spread to flatten and evenly distribute the kimchi.
Fry for 2 minutes or until golden brown.

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6. Flip over and fry the other side for 2 more minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Repeat to with the 2nd pancake.

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7. Using kitchen scissors, cut each pancake into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle black sesame seeds on top. Serve with soy sauce. They are best eaten when warm.

Cranberry-Almond Oat Bars

 

I enjoy a good granola bar from time to time, especially when I am in a hurry and don’t have time for breakfast. It’s also great for an afternoon snack when you’re on the run. Store-bought granola bars tend to have too much sugar and unnecessary preservatives, though, so I prefer to I bake my own, which lets me control the sugar and also use the best ingredients. This oat bar recipe has dried cranberries, sliced almonds, coconut, coconut oil and other healthy ingredients. The egg white helps bind all the dry ingredients. This recipe is relatively easy as long as you have everything in front of you, as you should be able to assemble these granola bars in less than 30 minutes. They are perfect to pack in your kid’s lunchbox or to wrap up and keep one in your bag. Enjoy!

 

Cranberry-Almond Oat Bars

Yield: 2 dozen

 

2 3/4 cups of quick cooking rolled oats, like McCann’s

1/2 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons of flax seeds

3/4 teaspoon of baking soda

3/4 teaspoon of flaky sea salt

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

3/4 cup of dried cranberries

1/2 cup of sliced almonds, toasted*

1/2 cup of sweetened shredded coconut

1/3 cup of honey

1/4 cup of packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup of coconut oil, melted

1 egg white, beaten until foamy

 

1. Heat the oven to 325°. Spray 13 x 9 aluminum baking pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

2. Add the oats, flour, flax seeds, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir well with a fork.

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3. Stir in the dry cranberries and almonds.

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4. Whisk the honey, light brown sugar and coconut oil in a small bowl, until well blended.

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5. Pour the honey mixture over the dry mixture and mix well with a rubber spatula. Then fold in the beaten egg whites.

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6. Pour into the greased baking pan and press down evenly until nice and firm.
Place pan in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until nice golden brown.

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7. Remove from oven and let it cool on a wire rack until cool.

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8. With a serrated knife, cut into 24 squares.

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9. Store in an air tight container for up to 1 week.

 

*To toast sliced almonds, place them in a 350° oven for 5 minutes. Let the almonds cool completely before using.

Gumbo Ya-Ya

One of my favorite culinary destinations is New Orleans, Louisiana. New Orleans is a melting pot of many immigrant cultures, but the French influence is quite apparent all around the city, but especially in the French Quarter. From the beignets at Cafe du Monde to escargot at Galatoire’s, the French culture is a major influence on their cuisine. And of course Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, the last day to eat rich and party before fasting for lent. Today, we celebrate Mardi Gras and it’s the perfect reason to share my gumbo recipe.

Gumbo is one of my favorite New Orleans dishes because it is delicious, spicy, hearty and full of great flavors. The key to a good gumbo is slow-cooked dark roux (a thickener made with butter and flour). In this recipe, the roux takes about an hour to cook. The original recipe for Gumbo Ya-Ya was created by the late Paul Prudhomme, who was an amazing New Orleans chef. This gumbo has chicken and andouille sausage (a firm Cajun sausage full of great spices), but if you can’t find andouille sausage, you can alway substitute Louisiana hot or mild links. This is not a quick recipe, but completely worth it in the end. I aways reserve making gumbo for special occasions and there’s no better time than Mardi Gras. Enjoy!

Gumbo Ya-Ya

Serving Size 4-6

2 lbs of organic chicken thighs

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil or other neutral oil

10 cups of water

1 carrot, cut into 3 pieces

1 stalk of celery, cut in 3 pieces

1 onion, quartered

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter

3/4 cup of Sonora wheat or unbleached all-purpose flour

1 bell pepper, small dice

1 sweet onion, small dice

1 celery stalk, small dice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of Creole Seasoning  (can be store bought)

1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of chili powder

1/4 teaspoon of dried hot red pepper flakes

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons of Kosher salt, more to taste

2 andouille sausages or Louisiana smoked hot links (about 10 ounces), cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices

1/2 teaspoon of file powder

3 cups of steamed long-grain rice, converted

Chopped parsley

Louisiana hot sauce for serving (optional)

 

1. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with a generous amount of Kosher salt on the skin side. Heat a large pot, preferably enamel coated cast-iron, to medium-high heat. Add the oil. Place chicken thighs in the pot, skin-side down. Sprinkle the other side of the chicken with more Kosher salt. Sear the chicken skin until it gets golden and crispy (about 5-7 minutes). Turn the chicken thighs over and cook for another 5 minutes.

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2. Remove the chicken thighs and place on a plate. Pour the chicken grease into a small Pyrex bowl or a heat-proof bowl and reserve for later. You should have about a 1/4 cup.

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3. Add the chicken thighs back to the pot, along with 10 cups of water, the carrots, celery, onion and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to a low simmer and place the lid on top. You will braise the chicken for about an hour.

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4. Meanwhile, heat another large pot to low heat. Add the butter and the reserved chicken grease into the pot. Once the butter is completely melted, gradually add in the flour while stirring with a wooden spoon. You will continue to stir and cook the roux for about 1 hour until you get a dark chocolate color. Don’t get tempted to leave the roux unattended. It is important to constantly stir throughout the whole process.

5. Check on the chicken. It should be tender, almost falling off the bone. Remove the chicken thighs using tongs, place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Quickly strain broth through a chinois (or a fine mesh sieve) into a large bowl and reserve the broth for the gumbo.

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6. Once the roux is nice and dark, add all the diced bell peppers. Stir for 30 seconds. Add the diced onions and stir for another 30 seconds. Add the garlic and chopped thyme and stir for 15 more seconds.

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7. Slowly add the broth to the roux mixture while stirring, two cups at a time, for a total of eight cups. (Save any remaining broth to thin out the gumbo later.) Add all the dry seasoning, bay leaf and the andouille sausage. Give it a good stir and bring to a boil.

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8. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure you skim the fat on the surface.

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9. While the gumbo is simmering, take the braised chicken and remove the meat off the bone, pulling it into to bite-sized shreds. Discard the bones.

10. After the gumbo has simmered for 30 minutes, add the file powder and the shredded chicken pieces. Add more broth or water if the broth is too thick. Give it gentle stir. Simmer for another 20 minutes.

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11. Taste for seasoning and adjust as need.

12. To serve, ladle the gumbo into shallow bowls. Add some steamed rice into the gumbo and sprinkle some chopped parsley on top. Serve with your favorite Louisiana hot sauce.

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