Friday, August 10, 2007

My kind of fast food - Dubukimchi (Tofu & Kimchi)

Hot long summer day does not just drag its legs, it drains my energy, too.
And there goes my desire to eat leaving screaming stomach behind.

I crave something quick and easy; this is good time to have somebody cooking for you but I am alone. Besides, that someone would have gone through same day with me.

Heat up sliced firm-tofu in microwave for 1 or 2 min. Add cut kimchi. Now you have my kind of fast food, Dobukimchi.

Dobu is comforting temperture and crisp cool Kimchi gives salty spicy bite. All the desire of life comes back.
Also it is guilty free since the half package of firm dobu and kimchi would not exceed 400Kcal.

...Well, it will be different story if you stir-fry Kimchi with pork and eat it with a cold beer. Almost all beer place in Korea have this manu.

Even forget about guilt-free part, it tastes so simple and good.

Speaking of guilt, have you watched Korean movie, Lady Vengence? There are two scens that features dubu; one with real dubu, and the other with dubu-shaped cake.
I don't know when it has begun, but in Korea, after realising from the prison, one eat plan dubu. Friends and family (if any one left to wait the prisoner outside) will bring a hunk of dubu. The white color of dubu simbolize furification, forgiveness, and new begining.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Do not let your eyes deceive you; the art of green chili

As Korean, my color conception tells me any red food would be hot. It is mostly true for Korean food. Tomato is not introduced till very recently and the only red seasoning in traditional Korean food was red chili. Red food, therefore, is usually hot unless it is dessert.

But, not all spicy food is red.

One day, I have overheard one very misleading advice how to avoid spicy food in Korea.

“Avoid color red, and you will be safe.”

Sorry, that is absolutely not true.
Despite its relatively short history in Korea – chili is introduced about 300 years ago – I don't think any Korean can imagine Korean food without chili.

Koreans love chili in general even though I know many Koreans who do not care much for spicy food including myself. But, now and then, I crave for clean sharp taste of green chili to wake up my sense. We even eat one of the most spicy chili with chili paste on top.
We put chili in our Kimchi, Ghuk, Jjigea, and every food imaginable; powdered, fermented in paste, mix with oil, pickled, stuffed or even row, chili has very important role in Korean cuisine.

Unfortunately for many people who don’t like spicy food, Koreans even invented ways to snick fiery taste into food without the color or appearance.

We just have to have it.

Adding one or two spited green chili into the broth add taste of chili. By doing this, the sharp but not over-dominating taste of chili is added. By no means will it be subtle, however.

Look at this Kongnamool Ghuk (Soybean sprout soup), for instance.

Doesn't it look benign? Clean broth and gentle soy bean sprout soup, huh? Can you sense the danger? The broth is little bit spicy -for me, and probably spicy enough to kill few of my friends- since I put green chili and take out before serving.

This is one more example; Doenjangjjigea (Korean bean paste pot stew) . In the name, you don't see any thing about chili. I put chili on top of tofu as garnish here, but often the chili is removed before serving. So, don’t let your eyes deceive you. You will get much more than you see.

The best way to avoid spicy food in Korea is asking one who prepares food to cook without green chili or chili powder. Emphasise "zero" chili; as you might have guessed, unless you are from Latin America or India, Koreans probably have higher threshold for what is 'hot'.

Even though I scare you to death, Korean food is NOT all about spiciness.

The most misleading perception (but most popular impression) of Korean food is all of it is spicy and hot, bombarded with garlic.

Simply omitting green chili from recipe, you can enjoy not so spicy Korean food which is often done in many homes in Korea. You can avoid garlic, too. A lot of restaurant which specialise in Buddhist temple cuisine in Korea serves mild but full flavored food without the bite of garlic.


I have told you stories about this flat fried pancakes called joen. Here is my favorite.

It can not be simpler than this; the tased of soft dobu, egg, and green onion.

Good comfort food it is.

I don't like to use flour in this recipe, even though you certainly can. In my opinion, flour add tough texture which ruins the delicate taste this joen can offer. So, please do resist the temptation of flour.
It may be harder to make without flour, but your patience and anticipation will be fully rewarded when you feel the light fluffy texture!


Firm tofu 1/2 package, one large egg, green onion finely chopped 1 T, pinch of salt & black pepper, vegetable oil 1 T

Sauce: soy sauce 1 T, rice vinegar 1 T, spicy green chili finely chopped 1/2 t (optional)

1. Crush tofu as well as you can.
2. Beat egg, and add it to crushed tofu. Add green onion, salt and pepper, mix well.
3. On skillet heat oil on medium heat. Add one table spoonful of tofu mixture and flatten it little bit. Leave enough space in between them. Wait for 3-4 minutes or till the bottom is harden enough to flip before flipping.
4. Drain the excess oil well on the paper towel and serve hot with deeping sauce