Category Archives: Korean

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.



Growing up, we’d often order jajangmyeon at our local Korean-style Chinese restaurant. Jajangmyeon is a traditional Korean noodle dish that is a combination of pork and wheat noodles in a black bean sauce. It originated in China but made its way to South Korea with Mandarin Chinese immigrants, who adapted the dish for the Korean palette. The Korean version has more sauce and a richer flavor, and usually has less fat on the pork and in the sauce.

One of my fondest food memories was watching the chef hand-pull the noodles, transforming the dough into even strands of beautiful noodles by pulling, stretching and twisting it in the air. I was in awe whenever I watched the chef perform his magic, as the noodles danced and floated in front of him until they were the perfect thickness. He did this all for a single bowl of jajangmyeon. Today, most Korean-style Chinese restaurants serve jajangmyeon with factory-made noodles, so finding hand-pulled noodles is a real treat.

My version of jajangmyeon is a healthier version of the dish, as I use less oil and and leaner pork to try and cut down on the fat. I also pre-marinate the pork, which ensures tender pieces of meat. This sauce is rich and full of great flavor, and I love to eat a big bowl of these noodles with a side of cabbage kimchee or takuan. Enjoy!


Serving Size: 4

Sunflower oil or organic canola oil

1 large sweet onion, chopped into 1/2″ in pieces

1/2 large zucchini, cut into 1/2″ pieces (3/4 cup)*

1 small Yukon gold potato, 1/2 ” dice (3/4 cup) – parboiled for 5 minutes

8 ounces of par-cooked, marinated pork (recipe below)

2/3 cup of fermented black bean paste**

2 teaspoons of organic sugar

1 tablespoon of organic soy sauce

1 1/2 cups of water

2 tablespoons of organic cornstarch

22 ounces of fresh jajangmyeon noodles or Chinese wheat noodles (medium thickness)**

1/2 cup of julienned cucumbers (seeds omitted)


1. Heat a wok to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the oil starts to smoke, add all the chopped onion. Sauté for about 3 minutes until the onion becomes translucent.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil.
3. Add the cut zucchini pieces to the wok with the onions. Sauté for 2 more minutes.


4. Add the par-cooked pork and potatoes to the wok.


5. Add the black bean paste. Stir to incorporate.


6. Add the soy sauce, sugar and water and bring it to a boil.


7. Meanwhile, add the noodles into the boiling water. Follow the instructions on the package. Rinse and set aside. (You want to time the noodles so they will be ready when the sauce is done)


8. Mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water to create a slurry. Stir into the sauce.



9. Cook and stir until thickened.


10. Divide the noodles evenly into four bowls. Ladle a generous amount of sauce into each of the bowls. Top with some julienned cucumbers and serve with cabbage kimchi.


* When cutting the zucchini, remove the center seedy potion.  The section with the seeds becomes mushy when cooked. Then dice the  zucchini to 1/2″ pieces as shown.


**  Fermented black bean paste and jajangmyeon noodles can be found at your local Korean supermarket.



Marinated pork recipe 

8 ounces of lean pork chuck or tenderloin

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of organic cornstarch

1 teaspoon of organic soy sauce

1 teaspoon of Shoxing wine or Sake


1. Dice the pork into small pieces just shy of 1/2″

2. Place the cut pork in a small bowl and sprinkle with baking soda. Mix well and let it sit for 10 minutes (I would suggest using a timer for this step because you do not want exceeded the time allotted or the pork will be too tender.)

3. After the 10 minutes, add the cornstarch, soy sauce and the wine. Stir and let sit for 2 minutes.

4.Meanwhile heat a wok to high. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once oil gets hot, add the marinated pork. Leave undisturbed for 30 seconds.

5. Using a wooden spoon stir and sauté for about one minute.
Place in a bowl and set aside until ready to use.


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.


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.



Bacon Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi fried rice is one of my favorite Korean comfort foods. Growing up, whenever the kimchi in our refrigerator got too sour, my mom used it to make kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew), kimchi bokkeum (sautéed kimchi), and kimchi bokkeum bap (kimchi fried rice). My mom’s kimchi fried rice was simple and delicious. She served it with dongchimi, a refreshing radish water kimchi without any pepper flakes, which tempered the spiciness of the kimchi fried rice. For this recipe, I took my mom’s kimchi fried rice and added bacon, soy sauce, and spicy bean paste for more umami flavor. Sometimes, I even add shiitake mushrooms and soybean sprouts for additional layers of texture, but I didn’t here.

When preparing to make kimchi fried rice, be sure to use sour kimchi, as using freshly-made kimchi will not produce the same deep, umami-packed flavor. To achieve this sourness, buy kimchi at you local Korean grocery store, open it up to break the seal, then close the cap and let it sit in your refrigerator until the kimchi starts to get a little soft, which should be in about 1 to 2 weeks. Essentially you are allowing the kimchi to become a little overfermented.

This recipe isn’t too spicy, but you can increase the heat with Korean pepper flakes or sliced red jalapeños if you like. If you’re a fan of kimchi, you’ll love this dish. Enjoy!

Bacon Kimchi Fried Rice

3 slices of thick bacon (preferably nitrate-free), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil or other neutral oil
1 tablespoon of roasted sesame oil
1 cup of sour kimchi, roughly chopped
1/3 cup of kimchi juice
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
4 cups of short-grain rice, cooked but firm
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of spicy Korean bean paste, optional
Fresh ground black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
4 eggs, cooked sunny side up (optional)

1. Cook the bacon on medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes in a wok or cast iron pan. You want the bacon to be brown but not crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set-aside.


2. Add the chopped onions to the wok. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until translucent (about 3 minutes).


3. Add 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil to the onions.

4. Add all the chopped kimchi and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly.


Add the reserved kimchi juice, sugar, rice, soy sauce, and spicy bean paste. Cook for 2 more minutes.


5. Fold the rice in to the kimchi mixture and mix well. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the cooked bacon. Taste for seasoning. Add a few turns of black pepper.


6. Add the sliced green onion and toasted sesame seeds.


7. Divide the rice among 4 bowls. Top with sunny side up egg and serve.


Kongguksu (Chilled Soy Milk Noodle)

Koreans love cold noodle soups during the summer. One of the most popular Korean cold noodle dishes is naeng myun, which is made with beef broth and buckwheat noodles. Kongguksu, a distant cousin of naeng myun, is made with chilled soy milk and somen noodles. Every summer, when my mom made kongguksu, it always put a smile on my face. I’ve had many versions of kongguksu and have yet to try one better than my mom’s. Most restaurants blend the cooked soybeans but don’t strain it, resulting in a thick, clumpy soup, but my mom adds an extra step and strains the puréed beans in a cheesecloth, yielding a smooth and silky broth. After learning how to prepare kongguksu from my mom, I wrote down the recipe and added it to my repertoire. Note that the recipe requires the soybeans to soak overnight, so please add a day to your prep time.

For those who are only interested in the homemade soy milk portion of the recipe, you will end up with with two quarts. You can easily cut this recipe in half to make 1 quart. To make a sweet soy milk for use in cereal or coffee, add a little superfine sugar and vanilla extract. To make Taiwanese salty soy milk, heat the prepare soy milk, add pork song, Chinese donuts, preserved vegetables, fried shallots, and scallions. Enjoy!

Kongguksu (Chilled Soy Milk Noodle)

Yield: 2 quarts of soy milk for 4 bowls of noodles.

1 pound of dried organic soy beans*
Superfine sea salt, to taste
1 package of organic somen noodles, 9.5 ounces*
1 large Japanese cucumber
2 teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds*
12 small ice cubes
Kimchee for serving
1. Soak the soybeans in water overnight in 10 cups of water.


2. The next morning, strain the soybeans and rinse well.


3. Put the soy beans in a large pot and place enough cold water to cover 1 1/2 inches above the beans.


4. Bring to a boil and skim the impurities during the boiling process.


5. Reduce to a simmer. Cook the beans uncovered for about 25 minutes.

6. Turn off the heat and leave the pot sitting on the stove top for 10 more minutes.

7. Strain the beans and give them a quick rinse.


8. Rub the beans together and try to remove as many skins as possible.


9. Place 2 cups of beans and 3 cups of water in a blender and purée on high until smooth. (This will be about 1/3 of the cooked beans.) Transfer the puréed beans to a large bowl and repeat this process 2 more times.


10. Pour the puréed soybean liquid into a chinois or cheese cloth over a large bowl. Strain, using a large paddle or spoon to push down the solids to push out as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the solids.


11. You should have about 2 quarts of soy milk. Add sea salt to taste.


12. Cover and store the soy milk in the refrigerator until it gets cold. You can store the salted say milk in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

13. Cut the cucumber into 2-inch strips using a mandolin, and discard the center with the seeds. Set aside.


14. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the somen noodles and boil for 2 minutes. Rinse noodles in cold water.


15. To assemble the kongguksu, divide the noodles equally in 4 large bowls. Ladle some soy milk over the noodles. Place 3 ice cubes and some sliced cucumbers into the bowl and sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds. Serve with kimchee.


*You can find these ingredients at most Korean or Japanese markets.




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.

Korean Dumplings

My mom may not have been the best cook in our neighborhood when I was growing up, but she had a few good recipes up her sleeve. One of those recipes is for her mandu, which are Korean dumplings. Every Korean mom on our block had her own special mandu recipe – one mom added sweet potato noodles to her dumplings, while another added bean sprouts – but I always liked my mom’s dumplings the best because they were simple but delicious. It was good home cooking.

Over time, my mom ended up making dumplings for special occasions like our birthdays and major holidays. Every Christmas morning, I remember waking up early and sitting in the kitchen with my brothers, folding dumplings, as we would race to see who can fold the most. Once everything was assembled, my mom would make fried dumplings, steamed dumplings and dumpling and rice cake soup. We were in dumpling heaven! Those are some happy food memories for me, so whenever Christmas comes around, I reminisce about those dumplings, and so I’ve put together my version of her recipe. Enjoy!

Korean Dumplings (Mandu)

Yield: About 3 dozen


7 ounces of organic soft tofu
1 cup of grated cabbage
1/3 cup of finely grated carrot
1/4 lb. of beef brisket, finely chopped (or extra-lean ground beef)
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
1/4 cup of finely grated onion
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon organic sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated pepper
1 packet of round wonton skins (36 wrappers)
Vegetable oil for frying
Dipping sauce (recipe below)
1. Place the tofu in a cloth napkin or cheese cloth. Wrap tightly to create a beggar’s purse. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. Remove the tofu from the napkin and place in a bowl and set aside.


2. Placed the grated cabbage in a sieve and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place over a bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Squeeze as much of the liquid out of the cabbage as possible. Place in a small bowl and set aside.


3. Place the grated carrot in a small sieve and sprinkle with a smidgen of salt. Place over a bowl and let set for 5 minutes. Squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible. Place in a small bowl and set aside.


4. In another bowl, combine the beef, sesame oil, and baking soda. Stir to combine and let it sit for 5 minutes.

5. In a large bowl, add the tofu, cabbage, carrots, beef, onion, green onion, sugar, egg, salt and pepper and stir to combine. You can also use a clean hand to mix all the ingredients.



6. Get your wonton skins and a small bowl of water. Take one of the wonton skins and place a heaping teaspoon of the dumpling mixture onto the skin. Dab some water around the edges and fold over to make a half-moon. Press tightly to seal (if you want to get fancy, you can create pleats). Place the dumpling on a parchment lined half sheet pan. Keep the rest of the wonton skins covered with a towel to prevent them from drying.


7. Repeat the process until all the filling is gone.


8. Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium. Once the skillet is hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil. Place about 1/3 of the dumplings in the pan. Cook on one side for about 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.


9. Flip the dumplings over and cook for another minute. Reduce the heat to low, add 1/4 cup of water and cover. Cook for about 5-10 until all the water has evaporated. (You are essentially steaming the dumplings to cook the filling.)


10. Remove the dumplings and transfer them to a plate. Serve with the dipping sauce.

Dipping sauce

1/8 cup organic soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of coarse Korean red pepper powder
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 small garlic clove, minced

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with the dumplings.