Category Archives: Appetizer

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.

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


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



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.


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


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.


Korean-Style Fried Chicken Wings

Super Bowl LI is just around the corner and thinking about it is making me crave fried chicken wings. Buffalo chicken wings with blue cheese dressing is the quintessential Super Bowl party food and I guarantee there will be a large platter at somebody’s Super Bowl party. For this Super Bowl Sunday, if you want to change things up, you can prepare this Korean version with a soy-garlic glaze. The chicken wings are crispy, sweet, salty, and garlicky with an umami kick. This recipe was inspired by my favorite chicken wings at Kyochon in Koreatown Los Angeles. There were many Kyochon take-out nights back when I lived in LA and ordered both soy-garlic and the spicy ones. I created recipes for both versions, but decided to share this soy-garlic wings since it’s more kid-friendly.

To ensure the perfect fried chicken wings, there are few important techniques: 1) Dry-brining ensures even seasoning through out each wing. 2) Keep the chicken wings as dry as possible before dredging them in cornstarch. This step helps create a thin crispy skin on each wing. 3) Keep the temperature as constant as possible. If you let the oil temperature drop too much, the chicken will get soggy. You may want to fry the wings in three batches, recalibrating the heat of the oil after each batch. Using a candy thermometer will help you get consistent results. Follow these tips and I guarantee you’ll have some of the best chicken wings ever. Enjoy!


Korean-Style Fried Chicken Wings

Yield: 18-20 wings

2 lbs of organic chicken wings, frozen or fresh

1 teaspoon of Kosher salt

1 teaspoon of sunflower oil or organic Canola oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon grated of ginger

1/4 cup of organic soy sauce

1/4 cup of water

2 tablespoons of Mirin

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated black pepper

1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil

2 cups of sunflower or organic canola oil

1/2 cup of cornstarch

Black sesame seeds, optional

Cilantro and red pepper slices for serving, optional

1. If using frozen wings, place them in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.

2. Place the chicken wings in a colander and drain any excess water. Place the colander over a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Toss for even salt distribution.


3. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This is the dry brining process.
4. Meanwhile, make the soy-garlic glaze. Heat a small sauté pan to medium-low heat. Add the teaspoon of oil, then the garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds.

5. Add the rest of the ingredients. Whisk and cook for about 5 minutes until mixture thickens a bit. Set aside.

6. After one hour, rinse the chicken wings in cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.


7. Bring 2 cups of oil to 350°, either in the deep fryer or a wok.


8. Dredge the chicken wings in the cornstarch.  Shake off excess cornstarch before placing  them in the fryer.

9. Once the oil is at the correct temperature, place 1/3 to 1/2 of the coated chicken wings in the oil. (Tip: fry the drumettes separately from the wingettes to ensure even cooking. The wingettes fry a couple minutes quicker.)

10. Deep fry for about 15 minutes or until crispy and golden. Turn them around a couple times with tongs for even browning.


11. Transfer the fried chicken to a colander lined with paper towels. Return oil to 350° and repeat with another batch of chicken wings.

12. Take the reserved soy-garlic glaze and brush each chicken wing with a barbecue brush until completely coated.


13. Place on a serving plate and serve immediately.


Pork and Potato Hand Pies

When I think of hand pies, my mind always goes to ones with a sweet filling – the apple pies at McDonald’s, the Hostess cherry pies, even Pop-Tarts – but every so often I crave a good savory meat pie. Many cultures have their own version of this dish: baked pierogis from Poland, salteñas from Bolivia, pasties from the UK, or pâté chaud from Vietnam, to name a few. I tend to make mine in the style of Argentenian empanadas, and my meat of choice when it comes to savory pies is almost always pork.

My hand pie recipe is made with a traditional pie crust, braised pork and potato filling. The pork is slowly braised in beer and chicken stock with lots of fragrant spices. This produces a tender and moist filling full of flavor. The addition of potato to the filling helps absorb some of the juice from the pork during the baking process. The creamy potatoes also add a layer of richness to the pies. If you are pressed for time, I encourage you to use store-bought pie dough as it produces good results as well. This hand pie recipe is perfect to make with family members and friends during the holidays or for your next potluck. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!


Pork and Potato Hand Pies

Yield: About 4 dozen


Flaky pie dough (recipe below) or 2 packages of pre-made refrigerated pie dough

1 recipe of beer-braised pork shoulder, shredded and cut into smaller pieces (recipe below, make 1 day in advance)

1 recipe for chopped potatoes with cream (recipe below)

1 large egg

2 tablespoons of cream

Pinch of sea salt


1. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Lightly dust a work station. Roll out the pie dough to 1/8″ thickness. Cut the dough into circles using a 3 1/2″ circular cookie cutter. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent the cut dough from drying out.

3. Whisk together the egg, cream and a pinch of salt. Set aside.


4. Create an assembly line of the braised pork, potatoes, and egg wash.


5. Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of pork and 1 heaping teaspoon of potatoes in the center of the pre-cut dough.


6. Brush half of the edges with egg wash. Fold and press to seal. Repeat the process until you have 1 tray ready, which will be about 12-16 hand pies.

7. Preheat the oven to 350°.

8. Using the tines of a fork, pierce once in the center of each assembled pie.


9. Brush with egg wash.


10. Bake in the oven for approximately 20-25 minute until they are a nice golden brown.


11. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Braised Pork Shoulder Filling

3 lbs. of pork shoulder

Olive oil or other vegetable oil

1 tablespoon of Kosher salt

1 teaspoon of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of sweet paprika

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

2 sweet yellow onions, 1/2″ slices

5 cloves of garlic

2 fresh or dried bay leaves

1 bottle of light beer (like a Stella Artois or Corona)

2 cups or more of chicken stock

1/2 packet of gelatin

1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, paprika, coriander, cumin, cardamom, and black pepper. Rub mixture on the pork, then let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.


2. Preheat the oven to 450°.

3. Toss the onion and garlic cloves in olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes and remove from the oven. You want them slightly charred.


4. Reduce the heat of the oven to 300°.

5. Meanwhile, heat a Dutch oven to high heat over a stovetop. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil. Get a good sear on the pork on all sides.


6. Add the roasted onions and garlic to the pot, along with 2 bay leaves. Pour the beer over the pork and onion mixture. Top off with chicken stock to cover the pork. Cover with lid.


7. Braise in the oven for approximately 5-6 hours. Check progress at the 4 hour mark. The filling is done when the meat falls apart.

8. Remove the bay leaves and discard. Remove the pork and set aside. Strain the broth through a chinois, pushing down the solids with a wooden spoon to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Place the pork back into the pot and refrigerate overnight.

9. The next day, remove the harden fat layer on top of the broth with a spoon and discard. Remove the pork and shred and cut any long pieces with kitchen shears. Set aside.

10. Place the broth pot back on the stove and boil over high heat until it is reduced by half. Stir the gelatin into 2 tablespoons of cold water and then stir into the broth. Place the pork back into the pot. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

11. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until completely cooled before using.


Potatoes and Cream Filling

3 cups of Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1/4″ dice (about 2 small potatoes)

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons of heavy cream

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Put 1 1/2 quarts of water in a medium pot. Bring to boil.

2. Add Kosher salt until it tastes like the ocean, about a small handful.

3. Add the chopped potatoes and boil for approximately 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl.

4. Stir in cream and taste and add salt if needed. Add a couple turns of the pepper mill. Stir again and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.



Pie Crust

4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 cup of sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt

1 pound of cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

2/3 – 3/4 cup of cold ice water


1. Add the flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor. Pulse a few times.


2. Add the butter pieces. Pulse a few more times until the butter pieces are incorporated, but still visible.


3. Slowly add the cold water while pulsing.


4. Stop once the dough comes together.

5. Transfer to a lightly-dusted workstation. Knead until the flour comes tougher.


6. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts and roll the dough into disks.

7. Double wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Sautéed Corn with Dried Shrimp

With Thanksgiving around the corner, fresh corn is plentiful at your local supermarket and at the farmers market. When I find heirloom corn at the farmers market, I get excited about all the different things I might make with it – Johnny cakes with fresh corn, creamed corn with tarragon, cornbread with bacon – but every so often I want corn with Asian flavors. With that in mind, here is a unique corn recipe inspired by the Vietnamese street food Bap Xao Tom Bo. You can find this popular buttery shrimp and corn dish at mobile food stands in the streets of Saigon. In the traditional recipe, the corn is sautéed in butter, then small dried shrimp is added, followed by a little fish sauce, green onion, and finally a little hot sauce. Also, the dried shrimp is traditionally sautéed without soaking them first. In my version, I prefer to soak the dried shrimp in hot water to mellow out the shrimp flavor and to soften them a bit, otherwise I think the shrimp flavor can be a bit overpowering. I also add a little soy sauce and dark caramel sauce to balance out the fish sauce. Finally, I add fried shallots for a crispy texture. This corn dish is best eaten right away. Enjoy!

Sautéed Corn with Dried Shrimp

Serving Size: 4
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1 lb of fresh cut or frozen organic corn*
10 small dried shrimp (soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and chopped)**
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 teaspoon of organic soy sauce
Freshly grated black pepper
1-2 teaspoon of Sambal Oelek (garlic chili sauce), more for serving***
1/2 tablespoon of Vietnamese caramel sauce (optional)
1/4 cups of fried shallots

1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low. Add the butter and half of the scallions. Sauté for about 2 minutes.


2. Add the dried shrimp (after it is soaked and chopped). Sauté for 1 minute.



3. Add the corn and increase the heat to medium-high. Sauté for 2 more minutes (3-4 minutes for frozen corn).


4. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, a couple of turns of the pepper mill, chili sauce, and caramel sauce. Sauté for 30 more seconds. Add the remaing scallions and sauté for 30 more seconds.


5. Divide among 4 bowls and top with fried shallots and serve with extra chili sauce.


*If using fresh corn try to find heirloom corn at your local farmers market. Most corn sold at the supermarket tend to be genetically modified.

**Dried shrimp can be found at most Asian supermarkets. Store the remaining shrimp in an airtight freezer bag.


***Sambal Oelek or garlic chili sauce are available at most Asian supermarkets.


Kimbap with Beef and Vegetables

Exactly one year ago today, I started my recipe blog. During the past year, I’ve had viewers from around the world visit my blog. To celebrate my one-year anniversary, I share with you my mom’s kimbap (Korean rice rolls) recipe. Kimbap are beautifully colorful and taste delicious. My mom made them for celebratory meals, and the thought of them made my brothers and I excited whenever one of our birthdays was around the corner. My mom would wake up before dawn to prep all the ingredients and once we were awake, it would only be minutes before we would begin devouring them. This recipe stays true to my mom’s original recipe – I haven’t altered it one bit, down to ingredients I wouldn’t typically use today.

The key to a successful kimbap is properly cooked rice. I typically use a little less water than what the directions call for on the package. The cooked rice should separate a bit when moving it around with a rice paddle. You want the rice fully cooked, not al dente like risotto rice, but also not too soft or mushy. Be sure to allow the rice to cool down a bit before placing it on the nori sheets. Note that there are 3 Japanese ingredients in this recipe that contain MSG or a derivative of MSG – takuan taro, kamaboko, and powdered sushi flavoring – so if you are sensitive to MSG, this is probably not the recipe for you. I searched for non-MSG versions of these three ingredients but they were difficult to come by, and I ultimately decided that maintaining the authenticity of the recipe was more important than using different ingredients that were MSG-free. If you try this recipe, though, you will experience a piece of my childhood through the flavors of one of my favorite comfort foods. Enjoy!

Kimbap with Beef and Vegetables

About 6 servings

Special Equipment: Bamboo Sushi Mat

1/3 lb. of brisket (cut into 1/3″ long strips, cut against the grain)
2 teaspoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of mirin
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
Freshly grated black pepper

Vegetables and Other Fillings
2 large carrots (peeled, sliced into 1/4″ strips, boiled 2 minutes, and shocked in ice water – blotted dry)
1 bunch of spinach (washed, boiled 1 1/2 minutes, and shocked in ice water – squeezed dry)
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 red kamaboko (Japanese fish cake) – 6 oz*
3 eggs, beaten well
Vegetable oil
1 takuan taro (Japanese picked daikon) – about 8 ounces, sliced 1/3″ strips**

6 cups of cooked short-grain sushi rice
2 tablespoons of roasted sesame oil
2-3 tablespoons of powdered sushi flavoring***

5 sheets of unseasoned nori sheets
Roasted sesame seeds and black sesame seeds
Extra daikon for serving

1. In a small bowl, add the brisket strips, soy sauce, mirin, baking soda, sugar and a couple turns of the pepper mill. Stir well and let marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature.


2. In a small bowl, toss the carrots, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and a pinch of salt. Place the carrots on a platter.

3. In the same bowl, add the spinach, the other teaspoon of sesame oil, and a pinch of salt. Place on the platter next to the carrots.


4. Heat a 6-inch non-stick sauté pan on medium heat. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add a pinch of salt to the eggs and give them quick beating. Add the beaten eggs in the pan. You want to create an egg cake that will be 1/4″ thick when sliced. Flip and cook on the other side until fully cooked. You don’t want a runny center.


5. Transfer the cooked eggs to a cutting board. Let cool before slicing.


6. Take the kamaboko and slice out the pink portion and white portion into 10 equal strips. They will be about 1/3″ thick. Heat a small sauté pan on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the kamaboko and sauté for 2 minutes. Transfer the kamaboko to the platter.


7. In the same pan, add the beef strips and cook on medium high until you get a nice sear on each side. This should take about 5 minutes. Transfer to the platter.


8. Add the cut pickled daikon on the platter.


9. In a large bowl, add the cooked rice, 2 tablespoons of the powdered sushi flavoring and sesame oil. Using a rice paddle, mix until the powdered sugar and sesame oil is evenly distributed into the rice. Taste the rice and add more powder if needed.


10. Lay 1 sheet of nori on the bamboo mat, long side down and the nori touching the bottom portion of the mat. Add about 1 cup of the rice and spread evenly throughout the nori, leaving about 1 1/2″ on the top.


11. Carefully add the filling (one of each) on the lower potion of the rice. You will need to add about 6 spinach leaves, evenly distributing the leaves so when cut, each one will have leafy greens.


12. Take a hold of the bamboo mat on the bottom side and, while rolling, press down to secure the filling and roll the kimbap away from you.


13. Repeat four more times.

14. Slice the kimbap with a serrated knife into 3/4″ pieces. Place the pieces on serving plates and sprinkle the sesame seeds. Serve with miso soup and extra pickled daikon pieces.



15. Kimbap are best eaten the same day they are made. Place any leftover pieces in a airtight container in the refrigerator. The leftover kimbap can be heated in the microwave for a few seconds or eaten at room temperature.


*This Kamaboko is processed in Los Angeles, California and it is my favorite Kamaboko brand. You can find it at most Asian markets.


** Here is the Takuan brand I use for this recipe. I tested quite a few brands and this one has the best flavor. You can be find this Takuan at most Japanese markets.


*** This is Japanese powdered sushi flavoring I use for the rice. You can find it at most Japanese and Korean markets.


Japchae (Korean Vermicelli with Beef and Vegetables)

Japchae is a popular Korean beef and vegetable noodle dish, made with dang myun (sweet potato noodles). Commonly served at Korean barbecue restaurants as a side dish, japchae is as colorful as it is tasty, usually being combined with a variety of sautéed vegetables. Because it can be served at room temperature, it is also popular at Korean potlucks and wedding buffets. What makes japchae unique is the translucent and chewy texture of the sweet potato noodles. The noodles are also a great alternative to wheat noodles for people who are gluten intolerant.

In this recipe, I use brisket, but you use any other cuts of beef like ribeye, short rib or filet. My mom always used brisket but never marinated it, so it was always a little tough. I created a marinade for this recipe with a little soy and sake and a sprinkling of baking soda to tenderize the beef. It is important to add the baking soda 15 minutes before cooking the meat, so that it doesn’t overtenderize. You to can easily omit beef and add more mushrooms instead to make it vegetarian – either way it will be a crowd pleaser! Enjoy!


Japchae (Korean Vermicelli with Beef and Vegetables)


Serving Size: 6 as a side dish

2 large eggs
Sunflower or other neutral oil
8 ounces of sweet potato noodles*
1 yellow onion, sliced into 1/4″ strips
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 ounces of sliced fresh shiitake or button mushroom
1 cup of carrots (2 carrots), julienned into 1/4″ thin and 2″ long
6 ounces of marinated brisket (see below for marinade)
3 green onion (cut into 2″ pieces)
8 oz of organic spinach (not baby spinach) blanched for 30 seconds
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds*
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste

*Note: Be sure to follow the marinated brisket instructions below prior to starting the recipe

1. Crack the 2 eggs in a medium bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt. Whisk well.

2. Heat a small, non-stick pan over medium. Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Pour about half the egg mixture into the pan, swirling to make a thin egg crepe. Cook for about 1 minute. Flip over and cook for 30 more seconds. Transfer to a cutting board and repeat with the remaining egg mixture.


3. Once on the cutting board, fold into thirds like an omelette. Cut into half an inch strips. Place egg strips on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside until ready to use.


4. Bring 5 quarts of water to boil. Add the sweet potato noodles. Cook for about 6 minutes (you can also follow the cooking instructions on the package.). Drain and rinse with cold water. Add 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil. Set aside.


5. Remove the marinated beef from the refrigerator. Sprinkle with baking soda and stir. Set aside.


6. Heat large a cast iron pan or wok over high. Add 1/2 tablespoon of sunflower oil. Add the carrots and pinch of salt. Cook for about 2 minutes. Remove and set aside.


7. In the same pan, add 1/2 tablespoon oil. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Sauté until golden brown about 2-3 minutes. Remove and set aside.

8. In the same pan on high heat, cook the beef until just brown. Don’t overcook or the meat will get tough. Remove and set aside. Wipe the bottom of pan with a paper towel.


9. In same pan, heat to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil. Sauté the onions and garlic for about for about 3 minutes or until the onions get translucent.


10. Add the cooked carrots, mushrooms and beef back into the pan. Add the spinach and green onions. Sauté everything for 30 seconds. Add the cooked noodles, soy sauce, sugar, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, sesame seeds, and several turns of black pepper.


11. With tongs or large chopsticks, toss the noodles with all the ingredients over medium heat. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.


12. Finally, add the sliced egg crepe and gently toss gently to distribute evenly.



13. Transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle additional sesame seed and serve.


Marinated Brisket

6 ounces of grass-fed brisket
2 teaspoons of organic soy sauce
1 teaspoon of rice wine (sake)
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of sunflower oil
1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda

1. Slice the brisket against the grain into thin strips. You want the strips to be about 2 inches long.


2. Whisk the remainder of the ingredients except for the baking soda in small bowl. (Save the baking soda for 15 minutes before you cook.)

3. Placed the sliced beef in the bowl and stir until combined. Cover with plastic wrap. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 hours. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

*You can find toasted sesame seeds and dang myun at your local Korean supermarket.



Creole BBQ Shrimp

The first time I tried New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp, I expected grilled shrimp on the barbie, but tasted something completely different. The shrimp didn’t come off a grill and they weren’t coated in a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce – instead, they were swimming in a delicious sauce made with butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and Creole seasoning. Essentially, they are a “peel and eat” shrimp dish in a spicy rich sauce. Since then, I’ve tried a few versions of this dish at different restaurants in New Orleans and BBQ shrimp has become one of my favorite Creole dishes.

Unfortunately I don’t live in New Orleans, so to fulfill my craving, I developed my own version of this recipe. It most closely resembles the BBQ shrimp dish I had at Mr. B’s Bistro, though with a couple of adjustments. At Mr. B’s, they don’t hold back on the heat or the butter, but in my version I cut the amount of butter used in half, and I also add fresh thyme and lots of garlic. You can add more heat if you like, but don’t reduce the butter any more than I did, as this amount will make a generous amount of sauce. Finally, in New Orleans they use gulf shrimp for this dish, but I recommend using local wild-caught shrimp with the shell and head on.

This dish is very easy to prepare and takes less than 15 minutes once all the prep is done. Serve with a French baguette or rice to sop up the delicious sauce. If you like shrimp, try this dish – it will become one of your favorites. Enjoy!

Creole BBQ Shrimp

Serves 2

1/2 cup of unsalted butter, divided
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1/3 cup of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 teaspoon of Creole seasoning (recipe follows) or store bought like Tony Chachere
1/2 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 lbs of wild-caught shrimp or prawns (16-18 per pound), with shell and head on
Sea salt to taste
1 lemon, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
1 French baguette, toasted (or cooked long grain rice)
Tabasco sauce for serving, optional

1. Cut the butter into 16 equal pieces.

2. Heat a large stainless steel sauté pan to medium-low. Add 2 pieces of the cut butter (1 tablespoon) and heat until melted. Add the garlic and thyme leaves and sauté for one minute.


3. Add the Worcestershire sauce, Creole seasoning, Cayenne pepper, black pepper and bay leaf. Stir well and increase the heat to medium-high.


4. Add all the shrimp into the pan and stir to coat. Cook for about 1 minute.


5. Push the shrimp to the back of the pan and whisk in the remaining butter, couple pieces at a time, until the sauce thickens.



6. Stir and cook for about 1 more minute. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Add the lemon slices and parsley and cook for 30 more seconds.


7. Serve with a toasted baguette or cooked rice.



Creole Seasoning

Yield 1/4 cup

2 tablespoon of sweet paprika
1/2 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon of thyme
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika

Place all and ingredients into a glass mason jar. Secure a lid on top and shake until the mixture is combine. Store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.


Tteokbokki: Spicy Korean Rice Cakes

Seollal, or the Lunar Korean New Year, is a very important holiday to Koreans. The celebration typically lasts for three days, with traditional games being played with family and young children bowing to their parents, grandparents and other elders, receiving “good luck” money as a reward. There is also a lot of eating, and one traditional food served this time of the year is Tteokguk: Korean Rice Cake Soup. As my mother explained it to me, since the rice cake is sticky, good luck is supposed to stick to you. She makes it every year and I usually have a bowl, but I am actually more of a Tteokbokki fan: Spicy Korean Rice Cakes. I decided I would make this dish as a part of my Lunar New Year celebration.

Tteokbokki is more of a Korean street food or snack, but the dish has become so popular, it’s being served at many restaurants and food courts all over Koreatown LA. Traditionally it is made with tubular Korean rice cakes (which look similar to string cheese), gochujang (spicy fermented, Korean bean paste), and fish cakes. Sometimes you can find hard-boiled eggs and ramen noodles in this dish, and my mom always added flank steak to her Tteokbokki. I took her version of the dish and elevated it by using fresh rice cakes, braised short ribs, and caramelized onions, while keeping the traditional flavors intact. When I tested this dish on a non-Korean friend, she called it a “spicy Korean gnocchi.” Though the texture of tteokbokki is definitely different than gnocchi, it’s an interesting comparison nonetheless.

Note that here is some oven time involved in making this dish, so make sure you read the entire recipe before starting. If you prefer, you can make the braised short ribs a day in advance. Enjoy!

Tteokbokki: Spicy Korean Rice Cakes with Braised Short Ribs

Serving Size: 4

Braised Short Ribs

12 ounces of bone-in short ribs (about 3 slices)*
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil or any neutral oil
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked pepper
1 carrot (roughly chopped)
1/2 red onion (roughly chopped)
2 garlic cloves crushed
1/3 cup of sake*
2 tablespoons of mirin*
3 tablespoons of organic soy sauce
1 1/2 cups of water
2 teaspoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 325°

1. Sprinkle the short ribs with salt and pepper.


2. Heat an enamel-coated cast iron pot or a Dutch oven to medium high heat. Add the oil. Sear the short ribs for about 2 minutes on each side. Cook them in 2 batches. Set aside.


3. In the same pot, add all the vegetables and sauté for 5 minutes.


4. Add the sake and mirin and deglaze the fond remaining from the short ribs, scraping the bottom of the pot. Reduce by half (about 2-3 minutes).



5. Add the soy sauce, water, sugar and pepper. Bring to a boil. Immediately skim off the excess fat layer and impurities. Turn off the heat.


6. Cover with a lid and transfer the pot to the oven. Braise for about 1 1/2 hours.

7. Remove from oven. Take the meat out and set aside, and then strain the broth and discard the solids. Set the broth aside.



8. Remove the bones. Cut the meat into small pieces, picking out the gristle. Set aside.


2 tablespoons of sunflower oil or any neutral oil (divided in half)
1/2 red onion (thinly sliced)
2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
Pinch of salt
1 jalapeño (sliced 1/4″ thick)
Broth from the braised short ribs
2/3 cup of water
2 tablespoons of Gochujang: Korean red bean paste*
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 pound of fresh Korean rice cake, cut in half*
2 green onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds, crushed*
Korean pepper flakes*
2 tablespoons of fried shallots, optional

1. While the short ribs are in the oven braising, heat a medium sauté pan to high and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the red onions and a pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes.


2. Add the garlic, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring every a couple of minutes. Remove from pan. Set aside.

3. Clean the bottom of the same pan with a paper towel, removing any excess onion bits. Heat it to high and add the remaining tablespoon of oil.

4. Add the jalapeño slices. Sauté for 1 minute and remove from heat. Set aside for garnish.


5. Place the broth from the braised short ribs, 2/3 of water, and 2 tablespoons of Korean red bean paste in large wok or sauté pan. Bring to a boil.


6. Add the fresh rice cakes and bring back to a boil and cook for one minute.


7. Add the caramelized onion mixture, the braised short ribs, sesame oil, and sugar. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until the sauce thickens and the rice cakes are soft and chewy (about 3-5 minutes).



8. To serve, divide the Tteokbokki into 4 bowls. Sprinkle with sliced green onions, fried jalapeño, sesame seeds, and fried shallots. Serve immediately.


*For the toasted sesame seeds, you can just add some sesame seeds to a dry pan. Toast over medium heat until golden brown. Transfer to a mortar and pound a few times with a pestle.

Mirin can be found in most Japanese Markets. You may omit the mirin and add one more teaspoon of sugar to the recipe. The rest of the ingredients can be found at any Korean Market. My favorite brands for the gochujang are Haitai or Wang.