Kimchi and Kimchi Pancakes

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I’ve had kimchi twice in my life, and neither time did it strike a chord, so to speak. I mean, it’s stinky. However, the smell is also addicting. It’s multi-layered, with fish and fiery spice, garlic and ginger.

Kimchi, a spicy pickled cabbage that is considered a staple of Korean cuisine, is basically used like a condiment. I’ve learned that Korean families always have a vat of it going in their homes.

I’ve also learned that there are a multitude of recipes for kimchi, but I’m going with a quick kimchi recipe on TheKitchn.com, written by Emily Han.

From TheKitchn.com, Kimchi is made by lacto-fermentation, the same process that creates sauerkraut. In the first stage, the cabbage is soaked in a salty brine that kills off harmful bacteria. In the second stage, the remaining Lactobacillus bacteria (the good guys!) convert sugars into lactic acid, which preserves the vegetables and gives them that wonderful, tangy flavor.

So I wanted to see if my I liked kimchi more, but mostly I wanted to use the fermentation crock that my daughters had gifted me again; I recently used it for Escabeche.

If you want to understand the difference between pickling and fermenting, this is a great read.

Kimchi

2 pound head Napa cabbage
1/4 cup salt
1 tablespoon grated garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
3-4 tablespoons seafood flavor (I used 3 tablespoons fish sauce, 1/2 tablespoon shrimp paste)
1-5 tablespoons gochugaru, Korean red pepper flakes
8 ounces Daikon, peeled, cut into matchsticks
4 green onions, trimmed, cut into 1” pieces

Slice the cabbage lengthwise into quarters and remove the cores. Cut each quarter crosswise into 2” wide strips.


Place the cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit, then add water to cover the cabbage.

Put a plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy, like a jar. Let stand for 1 – 2 hours.

Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times and drain in a colander for 15 – 20 minutes. Rinse and dry the bowl you used for salting, and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine the garlic, ginger, sugar, and seafood flavor in a small bowl and mix to form a smooth paste. Mix in the gochugaru; this author recommended about 3 1/2 tablespoons.

Gently squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage and return it to the bowl along with the radish, scallions, and seasoning paste.

Mix thoroughly, working the paste into the vegetables until they are thoroughly coated. Disposable gloves are highly recommended for this step.

Pack the kimchi into a jar, (I used the fermentation crock), pressing down on it until the brine rises to cover the vegetables. Leave at least 1 inch of headspace if you’re using a jar. Seal the jar/crock with a lid.

Let the jar stand at room temperature for 1 – 5 days. You may see bubbles inside. If using a jar, brine may seep out of the lid; place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch overflow.

Check the kimchi once a day, pressing down on the vegetables with a clean finger or spoon to eep them submerged under the brine. This also releases gases produced during fermentation.

Taste a little at this point. When the kimchi tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. It’s best after another week or two in the refrigerator, but can be eaten right away.

I couldn’t wait to make the following recipe using my kimchi.

Kimchi Pancakes
From Bon Appetit

1 large egg
1 tablespoon kimchi brine from jar
1/4 cup soy sauce, divided
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon white flour
1 1/2 cups kimchi
4 scallions
4 tablespoons neutral oil, divided
3 tablespoons rice vinegar

Crack 1 egg into a medium bowl. Add 1 Tbsp. kimchi brine, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, and ¼ cup water and whisk to combine.

Whisk in all of the flour.

Coarsely chop 1½ cups kimchi, add to bowl, and stir to combine. Thinly slice 4 scallions on a diagonal. Add half to batter; reserve remaining scallions for serving.


Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high. Drop ¼-cupfulls of batter onto opposite sides of skillet (pancakes should be about 4″ in diameter, so you’ll probably only be able to cook 2 at a time).

Cook pancakes until golden brown on first side, 2–3 minutes, then flip and cook until browned on second side, 2–3 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Repeat process in batches with remaining batter and oil; you should have 8 pancakes.

Combine 3 Tbsp. vinegar and remaining 3 Tbsp. soy sauce in a small bowl.

Transfer pancakes to a platter. Top with reserved scallions and serve with dipping sauce alongside.

I honestly couldn’t stop eating these pancakes. Look at the beautiful kimchi in the batter.

They were fabulous as is as well as dunked in the sauce.


Next time I will double the pancake ingredients so there are more in which to indulge.

They’re best crispy right out of the skillet, bet you can also re-crisp them in a hot pan before serving the leftover pancakes.

Thai Beef Salad

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Recently, I came across a Christopher Kimball recipe that caught my attention. It’s a Thai-inspired salad with skirt steak. Nothing terribly unique, except that when I make salads, they tend to be of the Southwestern ilk, with greens, beans, vegetables, and goat cheese.

Kimball’s Recipe has grilled steak, vegetables, shallots, cilantro,and a flavorful fish sauce-based dressing. Fabulous flavors.

The only thing I did differently was to sous vide the skirt steak. I know how to cook just about any steak in my sleep, but if you’ve ever enjoyed skirt steak, flank steak, flatiron or hanger steak cooked sous vide, you know why there was no hesitation on my part.

If you’re not familiar with Christopher Kimball, I’m actually surprised (especially if you live in the U.S.) He has authored many cookbooks, but was also the editor of the wonderful Cook’s Illustrated magazine. He has a show on PBS, and also talks cooking on an NPR show.

What I like about this man is his somewhat old-fashioned demeanor, his bow tie, his aw-shucks attitude but in Vermont style. He’s the opposite of loud, abrasive, show-offy, and arrogant.

My favorite book of his isn’t a cookbook, it’s called Dear Charlie, a collection of letters he wrote to his son, that appeared in the introduction of every publication of Cook’s Illustrated.


I loved these down-home letters about sunrises, apple pies, tractors, and so forth that my endorsement was printed on the book cover.

His latest cookbook is Milk Street, shown below, and a classic photo of Mr. Bowtie as well.

And now to his Thai Beef Salad.

Thai Beef Salad

1 1/2 pounds skirt steak
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 large shallot, sliced
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes
1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
Rice or cellophane noodles, optional

Dry off the skirt steak if necessary with paper towels. Mix the salt, black pepper and brown sugar together, and rub onto the steak on both sides.


Vacuum seal the steak, and cook at 131 degrees F for 12 hours. This can be done the previous day. Refrigerate the steak immediately.

Just when you’re ready to start preparing the salad, remove the steak from the plastic and dry off; set aside.

Combine the shallots and lime juice in a large bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the fish sauce and cayenne flakes to the shallot mixture.

Heat a skillet over high heat with the canola oil, and sear the steak quickly on both sides. Transfer to a cutting board. Thinly slice the stead against the grain, and add the slices and accumulated juices to the large bowl.


Add the tomatoes, cilantro, and mint. Toss to combine.

I wanted to add some noodles for fun, but it wasn’t part of Mr. Kimball’s recipe.

Transfer everything to a platter, and garnish with more cilantro.

This salad is fabulous. Refreshing, spicy, and full of flavor.

I did add a second shallot, more fish sauce, and a little rice wine vinegar.

I can’t stop thinking about how good this salad would be with grilled octopus or shrimp….

Bacon Fried Rice

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My husband doesn’t like anything “fishy,” which includes, sadly, fried rice. He’d love it without the little shrimp, which to me, is what makes it so delicious and unique.

I was recently reading through a People Magazine, for a friend, and in the back was a recipe for bacon fried rice by none other than David Chang.

It initially got my attention, when most recipes in People don’t, because I don’t read People, because I thought bacon fried rice would be perfect for my husband! And it was!

David Chang is the chef and host of Netflix’s new food series Ugly Delicious, which I haven’t seen. Most of us are familiar with him as the owner of the Momofuku restaurant group. Perhaps you’ve heard of Momofuku Noodle Bar or the Milk Bar? Now he has his own media empire as well.

In any case, David Chang claims that any fried rice recipe is best made with pre-cooked and cooled rice. “The starches relax so the grains won’t clump up and get mushy.” My Chinese friend confirmed that in her family, extra rice was continually stockpiled just for making fried rice.

The first time I made this rice, I had none leftover, so I simply used sushi rice and followed the recipe. I have to say, it was superb, and the texture was just fine.

This time, I’m using leftover cooked rice.

Bacon and fish sauce? Yes and yes. Try this recipe. It’s superb!

Bacon Fried Rice
By David Chang

4 cups cooked white rice
2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
8 bacon slices, diced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
6 green onions, sliced

Bring the cooked rice to room temperature; set aside.

Meanwhile, in a shallow pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Add the onions, and sauté together for 3-4 minutes more, turning down the heat slightly if too much browning occurs.


Add the peas, and stir to combine. Then gently stir in the rice.

Let the rice mixture heat thoroughly over medium heat. Make a well in the middle, and add the eggs. Stir occasionally to make sure they’re cooking, then stir them into the rice. There should be little bits of cooked egg throughout the rice.


Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, and soy sauce.

Just before serving, stir in the green onions; I used chives.

I also added some black sesame seeds.

And then, yes I did, I added an egg!

Of course it was fabulous. Will I continue making this fried yes? You bet.

Regarding the pre-cooked and cooled rice, it was definitely lighter, and the grains separated easily.

And FYI, this is my favorite fish sauce.

 

 

Venison Short Loin

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I don’t remember ordering a venison short loin when I placed my last meat order with D’Artagnan, but obviously I did because I discovered it in the freezer last week. Perhaps it was one of those many mysterious orders I placed in late evening after a bottle glass of wine?

I have no issue with venison at all, but I had no idea what a short loin was. So I googled.

backstrap2

Surprisingly, I came up empty handed, except for the fact that the short loin is also known as backstrap. Since googling didn’t provide much information, I turned to my encyclopedic friend Stefan, from Stefan Gourmet. He was able to tell me that this was part of the tenderloin of the deer, which really excited me. As part of the tenderloin, I could prepare this piece of meat just as I would a chunk of tenderloin.

backstrap1

I decided to make an Asian marinade for the meat, utilizing soy sauce, fish sauce, and a sweet soy sauce. Plus, the marinade would make a good reduction to serve with the cooked venison.

There are so many options when you choose ingredients for an Asian-inspired marinade. The fish sauce and sweet soy sauce are both Thai in origin. But I could have chosen oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, shrimp paste, sesame oil, or mirin just as easily. Play around with all of your favorite Asian ingredients and figure out what you like.

To complete the marinade, I added some fresh garlic. Fresh ginger plus cilantro leaves would also be wonderful blended in, but I decided to keep it simple. Plus, I wanted to serve these venison steaks with a spring pilaf I’d made, so I wanted all flavors to compliment each other.

Here’s what I did:

Asian-Inspired Marinade

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
4 cloves garlic
Sambal Oelek, to taste

backstrap4
Place the olive oil, soy sauce, fish, and sweet soy sauce in a blender jar. Add the garlic cloves and blend until the marinade is smooth.

backstrap3

Place the short loin in a sealable plastic bag, and pour the marinade into the bag.
backstrap

Seal the bag, and refrigerate the meat for 24 hours.

The next day, at least 1 1/2 hours from serving time, remove the bag from the refrigerator and let the meat warm up a little. Before cooking, grab the meat, using tongs, out of the marinade and place it on paper towels. Pat it dry on all sides.

Pour the remaining marinade from the bag into a small saucepan. At this point, add a teaspoon of sambal oelek, or the amount to your liking.
venisonsauce

Place the saucepan on the stove over the lowest heat, stirring occasionally, and reduce the marinade mixture to thicken it.

Meanwhile, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet or grill. Heat the oil over high heat until the oil begins smoking. Have your ventilation system on as well. Place the meat in the grill. Add some freshly ground black pepper, but stay away from salt. Sear the meat on one side. This will take about 5 minutes.

backstrap4

Turn the meat over and sear it on the other side for another 5 minutes.

backstrap5

Turn down the heat under the grill but keep the meat in the grill. This will allow the meat to cook through to the center, without over-browning the outside. This will take another 5 minutes total. If you prefer to use a thermometer, without too much poking, get the meat to an inside temperature of 125 degrees for rare, if that’s the way you like it. That’s how we prefer it. Then remove it to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

Once the marinade has thickened, remove it from the stove. This isn’t a necessary step, but I put it through a strainer before serving because I don’t like chewing on chile pepper seeds.
venisonsauce1

When you’re ready to serve, slice the venison short loin crosswise, in 1/3″ wide slices or thinner, if preferred.

backstrap1

If you like the sauce, pour a little over the meat. It definitely has a fish sauce flavor, so make sure you like that taste before you slather it on the meat.
backstrap2

I served the asian-flavored venison with an orangey leek and pea pilaf. It was a delightful combination.

backstrap3

verdict: I will continue to order venison short loin from D’Artagnan when I place meat orders. The meat was so tender, and I didn’t find it at all gamey, which is what most people don’t like about venison. Of course, the Asian marinade was pretty strong flavored. This cut of meat would really lend itself to some serious Southwestern flavors as well. I’ll keep you posted!