Monday, February 15, 2010

Welcome to the Year of the Tiger!!!!!...................

It's the Year of the Tiger according to the Chinese Calendar, it's also called the "Year of the Metal Tiger" alluding to it's element characteristics which tell us that this year is for goal achievements because of the assertive characteristic of the Tiger. However, don’t act too quickly in terms of decisions because you might fall into trap. Control temper and think twice or even ten times before you make that important decision.

It is also said that having a Tiger figure in the house is the very best protection against the evils of fire, and burglary.

So let's look forward to a year colored with the regal qualities of the Tiger and use cunning and wise thinking when making plans. Kung Hei fat Choi to everyone! (Happy Year of the Tiger, Happy New Year!)

However, since most of us don't live in China (or even Chinatown for that matter), we must apply ourselves within our own geographical locations and proceed with our day to day lives following our own wise counsel (I hope!...), but being in an Asian frame of mind and having just
returned from discovering a new Oriental market in town, the "Seafood City" market, I am excited to find that this primarily Korean place (although you see other countries represented there too), I found meat prices a little pricey (no way near the Mexican market prices which are awesome - same for the vegetables), and while their fruits and vegetables were lovely and apart from Bok-Choy (which I love and wasn't able to find in most places), this will be THE fish and seafood source for me.

I found that this market is a chain (Oh no!) located in California, both South and North, and Las Vegas, so good luck for me. Their fish and seafood department is amazing and great prices too. Got some silverfish (angulas in Spain), salted baby shrimp, whole salmon too. I had lost hope about good = fresh fish and seafood since all I could find was frozen (eeww!) but now I can see this won't be a concern since this place is excellent (pricewise too...) YAY!

But even with all this I decided to venture into Korean BBQ instead thinking of their subtle differences from Chinese food, plus so many of the main ingredients I could obtain at the Mexican markets (which is always a plus...). Since Vegas has a big Mexican contingent, their markets reflect it, I'm not kidding.... huge markets with everything you could want at rock bottom prices too! So here's what I found to prepare this fabulous menu.....

Authentic Kalbi - Korean Short Ribs (Kogi Style).- It's more than a mouthful.... it's heaven! Very easy dish to prepare that everyone will love.....

1 1/2 cups soy sauce or Gluten-free Tamari Soy Sauce
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup sesame oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 of a medium yellow onion, chopped
3 large green onions, cut into small pieces
2 tbl toasted sesame seeds
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
4-6 pounds of Korean short-ribs

Place ribs in a large ziplock bag or a dish that can hold them all (I used a large pot with lid). Combine all the ingredients together and stir for 1 minute. Pour the marinade into the pot, dish, or ziplock over the meat making sure all the ribs have been coated. Cover and refrigerate over night. The next morning make sure to place the ribs that were on the bottom on top, and vice versa. Continue to refrigerate until its time to grill.

Heat grill to medium-high heat and when the grill is nice and hot add meat. Grill each side for 3-4 minutes. Garnish with additional slices of green onion and toasted sesame seeds.
NOTE: I make tacos, burritos or whatever with this..... on a plate with a salad too. Any way you slice it, just great!

Spicy Chicken Wings.- For those of you that want some spice..... Serve with white rice and you're set to go!

12 chicken wings, cut in 2, tips discarded or boneless chicken
1 large onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 cup carrot,in 1 inch diagonal slices or baby carrot, cut in half
5-6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pinch black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons red pepper paste, (kochujang)
1 teaspoon crushed dry red pepper, (Korean kochugaru)

Boil wings in pot until blood no longer visible. Drain. Mix ingredients together and bring to boil. Cover and let simmer over Med heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until carrots reach desired tenderness.

Korean Noodles.- This is traditional Korean soul food, satisfying and wonderful. You could leave the beef out and make vegetarian, use fried Tofu or pick your flavor....

1 1/2 lbs beef flank steak
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 lb shiitake mushroom or cremini mushroom, caps,sliced
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons sugar
12 ounces Chinese wheat noodles (udon may also be used)
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1-3 small dried hot red chili pepper
2 carrots, grated

Slice beef thinly across the grain into pieces about 3-inches long (doing this while beef is partially frozen is best). Bring beef to room temperature. In a small bowl, mix together soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar until sugar dissolves; set aside until needed. Cook the noodles in boiling water about 8-10 minutes or until tender; drain.

While noodles are cooking, cook mushrooms in oil in a small skillet until softened, then remove and drain away the liquid that collects. Add the garlic, scallions and hot peppers to the skillet and cook on high for about 1 minute or until pepper becomes aromatic. Then add the carrot, steak and mushrooms. Cook the meat for 2-3 minutes but try not to overcook (as this is usually served on the rare side). Add the soy sauce mixture and cook about 2 minutes more. Place noodles on a serving platter and top with beef mixture, and toss together until mixed. Serve at once.

Korean Seafood Pancakes (Haemul pajun).- This is fast food in Korea, but is a great opening for any party- a great appetizer or side dish....

For the pancakes
1 tbl green chillies, can be Korean, Thai or Serranos, finely diced
1 1/2 tbl red chillies, choose your own
2 tbl Spring onions
1 cup self-raising flour
3/4 cup squid rings, thinly sliced
1 cup raw shrimps, peeled, deveined and cut in half along the vein
1 clove Garlic, crushed
vegetable oil, for frying

For the dipping sauce
2 tsp Spring onions, finely chopped
2 1/2 tbl Soy sauce
2 tsp dark Sesame oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp crushed, roasted Sesame seeds, (see Cook’s tips)
1 tbsp Korean Chilli powder, or just red chili powder like Cayenne

For the dipping sauce: in a small bowl, whisk all the sauce ingredients together. Transfer to a small serving dish and set aside.

For the pancakes: on a cutting board, deseed the chillies and cut into very thin strips. Trim the spring onions and slice into very thin pieces.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and pepper with about 1 3/4 cup ice-cold water, add a little at a time. The batter should be thick, like a pancake batter, but not too thick. Adjust with more water or flour, as necessary. Stir in the squid, shrimp and garlic and mix well to coat.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add enough vegetable oil (or any similar neutral oil) to coat the bottom of the pan. Using a spoon, scoop the batter into the pan and make three or four 6-8 inch round pancakes.

Spread the seafood and fillings around each pancake to make it as flat and even as possible. Cook over a medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, until the edges turn golden brown (the pancake should be about two-thirds cooked through). Flip over and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes on the other side. (Alternatively, you can make one big pancake and cut it up like a pizza when serving. Adjust the cooking time accordingly. The pancake should be golden brown and crispy around the edges.)

Serve the pancakes immediately, accompanied by the dipping sauce.
NOTE: These are great as a vegetarian dish too.

Korean Rice Cake- both mild and spicy.- A very popular Korean street food everyone loves.....

Ingredients for hot spicy ddukbokkie:
Tube shaped rice cake for ddukbokkie, hot pepper paste, sugar, water, dried anchovies, and green onions.

Separate the tubes of rice cake into individual pieces. In a pan, pour 4 cups of water and add 7 large dried anchovies after removing their heads and intestines. Boil the water for 10 minutes over medium heat. Remove the anchovies and add the rice cakes, 4-6 tbs of hot pepper paste, 1 tbs of sugar, and 1 tbs of hot pepper flakes (optional). Stir it constantly. Cut 7 green onions into 5 cm long pieces, and add them to the pot. Keep stirring until the sauce is thick and the rice cake is shiny. Transfer it to a plate and serve!

To make mild taste ddukbokkie:
1 package of rice cake

Saute 200 grams of beef strips with 2 tbs soy sauce, 1 tbs sugar, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 3 tbs of sliced onion. Add 3-4 sliced white mushrooms and 2 chopped green onions and stir it. Add 1cup of water and put rice cake in it and keep folding until rice cake is soft. Serve it on a plate and eat it when it is warm.
NOTE: The dried anchovies are needed as a flavoring agent and are important, otherwise this won't taste right.

Okay, I know- here I am celebrating the Chinese New Year and I go posting Korean food dishes... but it's cool since all these are very tasty and oriental so I ask for a little latitude, ok?
All of a sudden I thought of Kalbi and pretty soon one thing led to another and I got all these Korean flavors I could recall and it was all I could think about, plus being in the oriental market followed by the Mexican one where I got all the veggies I could ask for made the dream (or was it a hallucination?) possible..... MMmmm, lovely aromas wafting from the kitchen as the flavors meld to become one...... I'm thinking "how apropos after all, watching the Olympics on the TV and having some highly suitable foreign food"..... do try some of these and let me know, ok?
Wishing you a lovely rest of the day (President's Day here in the US) followed by an even better
evening (had a warm, sunny day with pretty darn perfect breezes..... ). I'm trying to finish all our Chinese Year Horoscopes to see what we have in store for us and the food is almost ready. Happy Carnavale Celebrations to everyone in Merida, Veracruz, Acapulco, Mazatlan and all around the world (especially Venice!) Take care and we'll Talk soon!

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