Korean

Beef Galbi (Korean Barbequed Beef Ribs) 소갈비

Beef Galbi (Korean Barbequed Beef Ribs) 소갈비A friend of mine once suggested that Koreans have contributed nothing laudable to the modern cultural collective. A tad harsh perhaps, though given the culturally devoid trite that is k-drama and k-pop, she may have had a point. In my opinion though (Psy aside), Koreans get a bad rap and deserve a little bit more credit then they are typically afforded; Korean cuisine is a case in point.

Along with the ubiquitous kimchi, Koreans could also teach the world a thing or two about how to barbeque. Whilst not to everybody’s taste, Korean cuisine has only recently made its mark on the international food scene. Its spicy flavours are gaining popularity at an astounding pace and is the current darling of Asian-fusion cuisine (did somebody say kimchi taco?).

Typically considered the preserve of Antipodean, South African and American cultures, the Koreans are in fact prolific barbequers. Koreans will barbeque virtually anything, but they especially love their beef. Be it sliced steak (bulgogi) or strips of beef short ribs (galbi), the Koreans take great pride in their barbequing traditions, and with good reason – it tastes incredible!

Beef Galbi (Korean Barbequed Beef Ribs) 소갈비So what makes a Korean Barbeque Korean? As with any barbeque, the secret is in the marinate. Sweet and salty, the marinate for galbi is a triumph of flavour, both familiar and exotic. The addition of puréed pear not only adds sweetness, but also helps tenderize the meat.

Whilst the marinate works well with any cut of meat, galbi is specifically made with beef short rib. The way the meat is cut is also slightly unusual, in that it is thinly cut across the grain and along the bone. Each slice of meat should include 3 pieces of bone and can be grilled whole or divided into three pieces and cooked individually. If you can’t source this particular cut of meat, the marinate will also work a treat on pork or any beef cut.

Another thing that sets Korean Barbeque apart is how it is typically served. Apart from the traditional Korean side dishes (banchan) stalwarts of rice and napa kimchi, galbi is normally cut into bite sized pieces, wrapped in a lettuce leaf along with some carrot, cucumber and chilli. It is then smeared with a spicy Korean sauce called ssamjang. Rice aside, this is Banting/LCHF Bliss personified (just leave out the honey/sugar)!

Note: Whilst you can get away with marinating your meat for less time, ideally this marinate needs at least 18 to 24 hours to work its magic.

For more Korean recipes, please click HERE or to find out more about how to stock a Korean Pantry, please click HERE

For more braai/barbecue recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click HERE

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Kimchi Risotto

If you follow this blog you’d know that I’m a tad obsessed with two things: kimchi and risotto! As much as I love both, I must admit I had my reservations about combining these two distinct flavour elements into a single dish. Kimchi and rice; that was a no-brainer, but kimchi and cheese? I just couldn’t get my head around how that would actually taste, frankly it sounded like fusion-cooking gone mad!

For a long while I just dismissed the notion of a kimchi risotto as a misguided attempt to make spicy fermented cabbage palatable to the uninitiated, by giving it a conventional context; but like cream-cheese sushi, it risks becoming a cultural and culinary aberration, an oxymoron that contradicts the very essence of what it purports to be. If you like that sort of thing, great, but it’s simply not for me. Generally speaking, fusion for fusion-sake leaves me cold.

Then one day I found myself in a serious food-rut; we’ve all be there before, we all know what grim times ruts can be. As I stared blankly at the contents of my refrigerator, I desperately hoped for a spark of inspiration. Nothing, we were mere minutes away from ordering pizzas for dinner, again. Then my eyes eventually rested upon that omnipresent fridge staple – kimchi. So strong was my desire not to have pizza, I thought: “Oh, sod it”. I figured making kimchi risotto was a win/win situation; either it would be amazing and I would love it, or it would be deplorable and I’d feel justified in my initial scepticism. I don’t mind admitting that I hoped for the latter, I don’t like being wrong.

As hungry as I was, I tried my best to dislike it, but I couldn’t. It was fantastic! My initial concerns about the combination of kimchi and cheese were unfounded. In reality the richness of the cheese muted the bite of the kimchi; mellowing it just enough to allow for an appreciation of the subtle flavours that normally hide behind the spicy, sharp bravado of kimchi. To my surprise, fusion cuisine had done the unthinkable – it had made kimchi taste better.

Does this fusion revelation mean I’ll be tucking into a portion of cream-cheese & biltong maki any time soon? Don’t count on it, but there are plenty of fusion temptations out there; bacon ice-cream, anyone? Perhaps not.

RECIPE NOTE: The rice quantities for these recipes vary depending on the number of people you are feeding and whether you intend making the risotto as a main meal or an accompaniment. As a general rule of thumb, I use approx. 70-80ml of rice per person for a main meal and 50-60ml as an side dish. Generally, risotto recipes on my blog are based on 2 people eating a full portion.

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Kimchi Pancakes (Kimchijeon)

Kimchi PancakesSo great, you’ve made your first batch of mak kimchi and now you’re probably wondering what the heck to do with it? One word: pancakes.

I know it may sound strange, maybe even a little wrong, but relax, these aren’t pancakes of the sweet variety – these are spicy, savoury treats that make for the prefect snack or light meal. Simple and delicious, kimchi pancakes are a great way to get your kimchi-fix without having to go to the effort of making an elaborate Korean meal. Kimchijeon is perhaps my favourite way to eat kimchi; I love to eat mine with a fried egg, topped with some chopped spring onions, laver (Korean dried seaweed) and a dollop of chilli sauce! Kimchi-bliss

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Mak Kimchi 막김치 (Napa Cabbage Kimchi)

When most people think of kimchi they usually have Mak Kinchi in mind. Made with napa (Chinese) cabbage it is perhaps the most commonly found variety of kimchi, especially outside Korea. Of all the kimchi out there (and there are many) Mak Kimchi is still my personal favourite; it is versatile, its ingredients readily available, and most importantly, it is easy to make.

I used to buy my kimchi ready made from my local Asian supermarket, but it wasn’t really spicy enough for my palette and that it often went off very quickly. I found the latter odd, given that kimchi is by its very definition preserved and therefore shouldn’t go moldy after just a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Determined to make my own, I bought various kimchi making contraptions on my last visit to Japan. I scoured the internet looking for recipes and I stocked up on an obscene amount of Korean Chilli Powder. My first few attempts were a bit disappointing but eventually, through trial and error, I started to make passable Mak Kimchi. I must confess that I no longer use any of those weird and wonderful kimchi contraptions that I hauled all the way back from Japan. All you really need is a large glass jar, a little patience and you too can make your own kimchi!

I have no doubt that my attempts would be a mockery compared to kimchi in Korea itself; but thankfully I’m not in Korea. I live in Cape Town and here my kimchi is pretty damn good!

For more Korean recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click here.

For tips on stocking a Korean Pantry, please click here

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