kimchi jjigae

this kimchi jjigae recipe is a recipe half-remembered. my dad used to stop by a tiny korean supermarket somewhere in the middle of delaware on his way home from work and buy a pound of homemade kimchi from the shop owner. whenever he came in the door with bags of korean groceries, we knew that we could expect kimchi jjigae, whipped up in under an hour in the o.g. of “painless cooking” kitchen gadgets, the pressure cooker. I’ve half-watched him make it a number of times while doing homework at the kitchen counter, but it’s been over a decade since then and the details, which were never truly committed to memory to begin with, have only become fuzzier.

I’m not much for kitchen gadgets, and my small apartment kitchen has forced me to be even choosier. as a result, I’ve adapted this recipe to my dutch oven (a.k.a. the only pot I have that is large enough to hold a stew), and have done my best to adapt my memories of what my dad made to my current tastes. though my kimchi jjigae doesn’t quite match what I remember, it does capture the addictive spiciness and comfort of one of my favorite childhood dishes.


makes 6-8 servings

2 lb beef short ribs (bone-in if possible)
ground black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp chili flakes (gochugaru preferable, though red pepper flakes work in a pinch)
1 tbsp gochujang
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 cups dashi (3 cups hot water + 1/2 tbsp dashi granules)
8 oz firmed tofu, cubed
1 tsp sesame oil
chopped scallion, for garnish

sarah leung. kimchi stew. the woks of life. 8 march 2016. accessed 13 april 2018.
jennifer yu. get jjigae with it. use real butter. 25 october 2015. accessed 13 april 2018.

1 heat oil over high heat in a large dutch oven. generously season beef short ribs with salt and pepper. (if you bought boneless beef short ribs, cut ribs into 3-in cubes, then season.) place in short ribs in pot and sear until brown (working in batches if necessary to avoid over-crowding), about 2 minutes on each side. with tongs, transfer the short ribs to a plate.
2 reduce heat to medium and add onions. sauté until soft and translucent, then add the garlic and cook for ~1 more minute, until fragrant.
3 add kimchi and fry for ~2 minutes, then add 1 tsp salt and the sugar, chili flakes, gochujang, and dashi. when the mixture comes to a boil, return the short ribs to the pot, turn the heat down to a simmer, cover, and cook for 2-2.5 hours, until the ribs are tender.
4 uncover and nestle the tofu on top. replace the cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. uncover again and stir in the sesame oil. garnish with chopped scallion and serve immediately over rice.

*I photographed the stew in a korean dolsot. you can halve the recipe and cook it in a medium-sized dolsot if you want; if you use a dolsot, I’d recommend browning the meat separately in a pan to avoid steaming the meat.
*I like carrots in my jjigae for the natural sweetness they impart, but it’s not traditional to include carrots and you can leave them out. my dad likes to add daikon to his jjigae; just roughly cube it and use in place of the carrots
*other fun toppings: you can also add a handful of enoki mushrooms right before serving, and you can top the jjigae with raw bean sprouts or raw matchstick carrots.

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quick cinnamon buns

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back in college, I used to use baking as a stress reliever, and law school has marked the return to late-night/really-early-morning baking. in the last few years, I’ve found enjoyment in a good weekend baking project, but as a law student, I’ve lately been on the hunt for recipes for pastries that require less time.

unfortunately, this means I’m still am mystified by pastries made with yeast (a project I’m hoping to tackle this summer). but fortunately, this search turned up violet bakery’s baking powder-leavened cinnamon buns, which has all the sugary, intense cinnamon flavor and enjoyable flaky dough without the hours of rising. these cinnamon buns also freeze great, and with my new gas oven (which preheats in only 5 minutes!!!), I’m always 30 minutes away from a tasty, fresh-baked pastry.

law school has marked the return of another habit that perhaps is in tandem with late-night bakes: late night snacking. unfortunately, I no longer have my college-age metabolism, which leads me to another project I’m hoping to tackle after finals: some of the beautiful hiking trails around d.c! I’m definitely looking forward to packing some of these highly-portable buns for myself and my friends and scrambling up some rocks this summer.

makes 12 buns

filling
75g unsalted butter
250g light brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
cinnamon buns
560g all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground cardamom
240g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
300g cold milk
2 tbsp sugar, for dipping
optional: butter, for greasing the tin, or muffin tin liners

claire ptak. the violet bakery cookbook. new york: ten speed press, 2015.

filling|1 melt the butter and leave in a warm place so that it remains liquid.
2 in a small bowl, mix together the light brown sugar and cinnamon until no lumps remain, then set aside.
buns|1 preheat oven to 400ºF. butter a 12-cup muffin tray, or line with paper liners.
2 in a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, then using a pastry cutter, mix in the cubes of butter until you have a coarse meal.
3 slowly add in the cold milk while mixing, and continue mixing until the dough forms into a balls and comes away from the bowl.
4 turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and leave to rest for 5 minutes. fold the dough gently over itself once or twice to pull it all together. let the dough rest a second time, for 10 minutes.
5 clear a large surface and dust lightly with flour. roll out the dough into a large rectangle until about 5mm (1/4in) thick. (I roll it out to 24in x 12in rectangle.) brush the surface of the dough with melted butter and before the butter hardens, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar onto the butter. use it all up!
6 roll the dough up, starting at the long side, keeping it neat and tight. (start with the long side facing you, then gently tug the dough towards you while rolling to get a tight spiral.) once it’s rolled, gently squeeze the roll to ensure the same thickness throughout. use a sharp knife or pastry cutter to cut the roll cross-ways into 12 even slices (mine were each 2in thick). take a slice of the cinnamon roll, peel back ~5cm (~2in) of the loose end of the pastry and fold it back under the roll to loosely cover the bottom. place in the muffin tray, flap-side down. repeat with the remaining slices.
7 bake the buns for 20-25 minutes. as soon as they’re done, flip them onto a wire cooling rack and allow them to cool for 5 minutes. dip each cinnamon bun to a bowl of sugar and serve straight away.

*if you want to freeze the buns, you can freeze the unbaked dough in the muffin tins. after they’re frozen, they can be un-molded and stored until needed. when you bake them, add a few minutes to the bake time.

world peace cookies

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a few days ago, a friend and I were grabbing ramen on a 60ºF rainy evening. and today, it’s the first snow. a few years ago, these wild swings in temperature were among the most concerning issues for me.

but lately, it seems that the world is careening into a new forms of chaos each day. I remember discussing the impending brexit vote with european friends back in the summer of 2015. we lightheartedly talked about how with the high barriers to leaving the eurozone, no country would actually ever do it.

but britain did vote to leave, and in november 2016, the nationalist, nativist movements that had captured the government of hungary, almost taken france, and driven brexit reared its head and placed in power president trump and his band of breitbart neo-conservatives.

since then, it seems that every day, there is new turmoil. currently, palestine has declared three days of rage following trump’s decision to recognize jerusalem as the capital of israel. north korea has made increasingly brazen strides in its military capabilities, catalonia’s independence referendum spurred a spanish government crackdown on the self-governed province, and germany’s government is at a standstill following failed coalition talks. in the meanwhile, southern california is literally in flames and the us senate may soon count a pedophile in its ranks, a man supported by the republican party despite highly credible allegations about his crimes against teenage girls.

it is exhausting to follow world events these days because each seems so significant, and yet the deluge is so quick and vicious, it is impossible to give each adequate attention. my fellow classmates and I often discuss our frustration about having to take a step back and observe for the next three years, and hope that the reasons that we chose to go back to school are not irreparably damaged by the time we graduate.

washington d.c. feels unusually quiet today. the falling snow, the muted sounds and colors of winter seem more calming than ever before. this morning, I rolled out some quick chocolate sablés, aptly named “world peace cookies” by dorie greenspan, for an upcoming christmas cookie exchange. and I took a walk through the admittedly wet snow (d.c. is still too warm for any snow to stick) and hoped for more peaceful days ahead.

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makes 28-36 cookies

170g (1 1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
28g (1/3 cup) unsweeted cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
155g (1 stick + 3 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
134g (2/3 cups) packed light brown sugar
50g (1/4) white sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
142 (5oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into irregular bits (I usually just use bittersweet chocolate chips because I’m lazy)

dorie greenspan. dorie’s cookies. new york: houghton mifflin harcourt publishing company, 2016.

1 sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together.
2 working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until soft, creamy, and homogenous (~3 minutes).*
3 beat in the salt and vanilla. turn off the mixer, add all the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to start the blending. when the risk of flying flour has passed, turn the mixer to low and beat until the dough forms big, moist curds. toss in the chocolate pieces and mix to incorporate.
4 turn the dough out onto a work surface and gather it together, kneading it if necessary to bring it together. (sometimes it comes together easily, and other times it’s a bit more crumbly – this is fine! just knead until it comes together.) divide the dough in half.
5 shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. wrap the logs in plastic wrap and freeze for at 2 hours, or refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
6 center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325ºF. line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
7 using a long, sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. (if the dough cracks, just press back together.) arrange the rounds on baking sheets, leaving ~2 inches between them.
8 bake for 12 minutes (do not open the oven during baking). transfer baking sheet to a cooling rack and let cookies rest until they are just warm/room temperature. cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days, or can be frozen, well-wrapped, for up to 2 months.

*I’ve made this recipe with a hand mixer and stand mixer and both turned out well, though the stand mixer consistently results in a smoother, less grainy cookie.

cinnamon cardamom buns

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this past summer, I spent a few days in copenhagen. right down the street from our airbnb was one of copenhagen’s famous bakeries, meyers bageri. each morning, there would be a queue out the door and if we came after 10am, they’d be sold out of just about everything! (so much for sleeping in on vacation.) I loved their fluffy, buttery kanelsnurrer, especially the blueberry version.

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spiral spire at vor frelsers kirke in christianhavn.

since then, I’ve tried a few times now to recreate those pastries. most recipes I’ve found have a denser bread base that is then twisted into a beautiful, chewy cinnamon cardamom cookie-bread hybrid. (I think it might be based on the swedish version of the pastry.) they were good, but not quite what I was looking for.

while “leafing through” the ebook version of steffi knowles-dellner’s lagom, I saw that she included both a kanelsnurre and a blueberry kanelsnurre recipe (called kanel & kardamummabullar in her book) and was instantly reminded of meyers bageri. I’m happy to report that her recipe is definitely the closest I’ve found to what I experienced in copenhagen. the recipe itself was relatively painless, requiring two rise times but very little in the way of complex pastry skills, and the result is so, so good. I loved them so much, I ate three straight out of the oven!

the other pastry I loved in copenhagen was the tebirke, but my last attempt was so time-consuming and traumatic, I’m not sure I’ll tackle it for the next year. in the meanwhile, I guess I’ll just have content myself with these excellent kanelsnurrer.

makes 24 buns

dough
150g (2/3 cup) butter
500ml (generous 2 cups) milk
50g fresh yeast (or 1 tbsp + 2 tsp active dry yeast)
125g (scant 3/4 cup) granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cardamom
635g (5 cups) bread flour (all-purpose will do in a pinch)
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
filling
55g (4 tbsp) butter, softened
37.5g (3 tbsp) granulated sugar
2 tsp cardamom
1 tbsp cinnamon
sugar glaze
75g (6 tbsp)granulated sugar
100ml (7 tbsp) water

steffi knowles-dellner. lagom: the swedish art of eating harmoniously. london: quadrille publishing limited, 2017.

dough|1 in a small saucepan, melt the butter. pour in the milk and heat until just warm to touch. slowly add and stir in the yeast until dissolved.
2 in a large bowl, combine the sugar, cardamom, 1/2 tsp salt, and flour. add the butter-milk mixture and mix until you have a wet dough.
3 tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it comes together. add a bit more flour if the flour is too sticky to knead.
4 return to a clean bowl and sprinkle with flour. cover with a tea towel (or plastic wrap) and let rise in in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
5 gently press the dough down a bit, then tip onto a lightly floured surface. knead for a few minutes, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky to knead. when the dough releases from the surface easily, it is ready. cut the dough in half (another way to check if the dough is ready: you should see evenly distributed air bubbles). roll each half out to form a 12×16-in rectangle with the longest side facing you.
filling & assembly|1 in a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom.
2 spread the softened butter over each rectangle, then sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture.
3 preheat the oven to 450ºF and line several baking sheets with parchment. starting from the left, roll each rectangle tightly and slice into even pieces, about 1 inch thick. pinch or tuck in the ends and place, generously spaced, on the prepared sheets. cover with tea towels or plastic wrap and proof for about 40 minutes, until doubled in size.
4 brush with beaten egg and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden. allow to cool on a wire rack.
glaze|1 while the buns bake, combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan. without stirring, bring to a simmer. continue to simmer for a few more minutes, then allow to cool slightly before brushing them over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven.

 

zucchini bread

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baking has always been my stress reliever, and it’s much needed this week. I’ve had two zucchinis languishing in my fridge for a while, and figured I’d kill two birds with one stone and bake them into something. I have to say, zucchini bread does not fill me with the same joy that banana bread does (which may be why it’s taken me a while to get around to baking this loaf), but this recipe by tartine bakery, made with apricot preserves, is delightful, a lighter loaf that pairs wonderfully with black tea.

I will also say I did find that I had used a lot of kitchen gear at the end of this recipe – three bowls, one box grater, wooden spoon, whisk, and liquid measuring cup, and all of my cup, tablespoon and teaspoon measurements. normally, doing dishes is also a relaxing activity, and late last night, I suppose it was…relaxing…mostly tiring. anyways, I did sleep better than I have in a while last night!


makes one 9•5-in loaf

270g (1 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp vegetable oil
150g (3/4 cup) sugar
115g (1/2 cup) apricot preserves (or orange marmalade)
285g (2 1/2 cup) grated zucchini
1/2 tsp salt
115g (1 cup) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp sugar for dusting

elisabeth m. prueitt and chad robertson. tartine. san francisco: chronicle books, 2006.

1 preheat oven to 350ºF. lightly grease a 9x5in loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
2 in a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. set aside.
3 in another mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy (~5 minutes). (if using a handheld mixer, the same step will take ~8 minutes.)
4 on low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. don’t pour the oil in all at once; add it slowly so that it incorporates into the eggs and doesn’t deflate the air beaten into the batter. add the marmalade, grated zucchini, and salt, and beat on low until just combined.
5 using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture and nuts into the egg mixture until thoroughly combined. no flour streaks should be visible, and the nuts should be evenly distributed. pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. sprinkle evenly with sugar.
6 bake for 60-70 minutes, until golden brown on top and center springs back when pressed. let cool on the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, then remove it from the pan to finish cooling.
7 the zucchini bread can be stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

*the batter must be baked immediately after mixing. otherwise, the sugar with macerate with the zucchini, pull out all the moisture, and make the batter very watery.

banana bread

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at home, taped to the inside of the spice cupboard are old, yellowed magazine pages and memo notes holding the baked recipes of my childhood. I have often read through the one for popovers and one for banana bread. the banana bread recipe is particularly dear to my family – it comes from my mother’s old college friend, aunt phuong.

when I was younger, we used to visit aunt phuong often for dinner parties and holiday get-togethers. I always looked forward to the loaves of banana bread, sometimes studded with chocolate chips, sometimes laced with shredded carrots, always perfectly moist and suffused with strong banana flavor. for some reason, we could never make it as well as my aunt did, so it remained a treat enjoyed only at her house, and over time, it faded into a cherished childhood memory.

years later, while in college, I saw my aunt again and had a slice of her banana bread. it was delicious, a simple, kitchen sink kind of banana bread stuffed with walnuts and chocolate chips, shredded carrots and coconut flakes. as I ate, I felt a pang of nostalgia, but was reminded again how much my tastes had changed since I was a child.

I once thought that nothing would ever be too sweet for me. but these days, I find myself gravitating towards lighter recipes, searching for ones where a splash of salt or a swirl of sour cream cuts through the sweetness. my aunt’s banana bread was still perfect – still so ridiculously easy to make, still a huge crowdpleaser over a decade later, but I could no longer devour half a loaf as I did when I was young.

I never thought I’d find a banana bread to rival the one my aunt made. but one day, while in my favorite boston bakery, flour, I ended up sampling a little square of banana bread. it had just a bit of a tang, which I later found out comes from crème fraîche, the perfect reconciliation between my grown-up tastes and childhood memories. with an hour-long baking time, it’s a bit of a long project, but absolutely worth it in the end, perfect for late night baking and lazy sunday brunches.

makes one 9•5-in  loaf

210 g (1 1/2 cups) flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
230 g sugar (1 cup plus 2 tbsp) sugar
2 eggs
100 g (1/2 cup) canola oil
3 1/2 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (1 1/3 cups mashed or ~340 g)
2 tbsp crème fraîche or sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
75 g (3/4 cup) walnut halves, chopped

joanne chang.
flour: spectacular recipes from boston’s flour bakery + cafe.
san francisco: chronicle books, 2010.

1 position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325ºF. butter a 9×5 loaf pan and line with parchment paper.
2 in a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. set aside.
3 using a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy (~5 minutes). (if using a handheld mixer, the same step will take ~8 minutes.)
4 on low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. don’t pour the oil in all at once; add it slowly so that it incorporates into the eggs and doesn’t deflate the air beaten into the batter. add the bananas, crème fraîche, and vanilla and continue to mix on low speed until just combined.
5 using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture and nuts into the egg mixture until thoroughly combined. no flour streaks should be visible, and the nuts should be evenly distributed. pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.
6 bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until golden brown on top and the center springs back when pressed. let cool on the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, then remove it from the pan to finish cooling.
7 the banana bread can be stored tightly wrapped at room temperature for up to 3 days, and can be stored frozen for up to 2 weeks.

 

spicy peanut stew with ginger and tomato

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when I think of the word “international”, a few cities jump to mind: new york city, london, washington, d.c. three starkly different cities with completely different atmospheres, and yet when I think of each one, the first word that comes to mind is “international”.

new york is bustling, its immigrant population in full display in the crowded streets and its immigrant-welcoming history commemorated by the statue of liberty. skyscrapers tower like trees fighting for sunlight in a concrete jungle. businesses from around the world are located in nyc, from large global corporations to small, immigrant-run bakeries.

london, on the other hand, feels like an old european city. there are the famous bridges, the castles, the colossal, centuries-old government buildings and museums. and yet there is undoubtedly an international presence felt in the monuments commemorating moments when the sun never set on the empire, and in the communities of immigrants (many from the former colonies that comprised britain’s “greatest” and most inhumane chapter), where the smells of spices not native to europe and the sounds of foreign languages spill into the streets.

and then there’s washington, d.c., the seat of the federal government and so wholly american, yet international. where embassies of small countries are tucked in basements of residential neighborhoods, where every block seems to have some sort of foreign language learning school or university building or government office. in washington d.c., one truly feels how internationalism is interwoven with american government and culture. so many parts of d.c. feel transient, from the revolving foreign staff to our own elected officials to the large student populace and young professionals.

even in my apartment building, I hear different languages in the elevator and in the halls and around dinnertime, delicious odors waft into my apartment. sometimes, it’s a whiff of kimchi, other times a roast chicken. while frying up the aromatics for this peanut stew, a riff on west african peanut stew, the scents of cumin, cayenne, peppers, and shallots quickly filled my kitchen. I can only hope that someone else in the building enjoyed the smells and that it perhaps inspired them.

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makes eight servings

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-in dice
1 tsp kosher salt + more to taste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 inches ginger, peeled and minced
1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
1 onion, chopped
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
3-4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup natural unsweetened peanut butter
1 medium-sized zucchini, cut in quarters lengthwise, then sliced 1/2 in thick
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped + more for garnish
chopped peanuts (optional)

julia moskin. spicy peanut stew with ginger and tomato. new york times. 24 january 2007. accessed 12 september 2017.

1 in a colander, toss eggplant with 1 tsp salt and set aside for 30 minutes. dry off with paper towels.
2 in a small bowl, combine cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne; set aside.
3 in a large pot, heat 3 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. add shallots and fry, stirring often, until soft, crisp, and caramelized, ~10 minutes. using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots to a large bowl, leaving oil in pot. raise heat to high and add eggplant. cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and just tender, ~10 minutes. transfer to bowl with shallots.
4 add remaining 1 tbsp oil to pot and heat over medium-high heat. add ginger and chilies then cook, stirring for 30 seconds. add spices and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds. add onion and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, until softened and translucent, ~5 minutes. add tomato paste and cook, stirring, ~1 minute.
5 add diced tomatoes, vegetable stock, eggplants, shallots, and sprinkling of salt. bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. place peanut butter in a medium bowl, add 1-2 ladlefuls of hot soup and stir until emulsified, then pour mixture back into soup.
6 reduce heat to a simmer, add zucchini, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are tender. turn off heat and stir in lemon juice and chopped cilantro. let cool slightly and taste; add salt if necessary.
7 serve with rice, garnished with cilantro leaves and chopped peanuts.
*ingredients are flexible – juice of 1/2 a lime works well if you don’t have lemons; you can also add sweet potatoes (pan-fry with eggplant), collard greens/kale (add with diced tomatoes and vegetable stock), and/or chicken (1/2 chicken breast added after onions are softened and cooked for 3-4 additional minutes).