Monday, January 20, 2014

If You Have Koreans or You Just Like to Eat

My Asians are obsessed with Korean food.
We go to our favorite Korean restaurant when we can, but it's almost an hour away and it's a little pricey.

I cook "Asian cuisine" often and everyone here loves it, but for reasons I cannot articulate, I've never tried making a full Korean meal.

Until Fridayyyyyy!

Can't even tell you how excited these boys were.
The one Korean phrase they both know best is, "Oma, behgopah." (I'm hungry, Mom.)

Silas called me Sunny (the owner of our fave restaurant) all afternoon. Calvin kept circling the island like a herring on a hunt.

These perpetually at-each-others-throats brothers even bonded over an appetizer bowl of Shrimp Snacks (think shrimpy cheetos. yuck. and just, blech. but they love them.)

Never fear, this meal isn't just for Koreans!
All the skins will love it.
Just ask the two of us.

We were having company for dinner, but I managed to grab a few tight shots before we attacked....

#1 : Cucumber Kimchi

I don't know if this is a typical Korean food??? But Sunny makes it and Silas adores it, as do Cory, Ruby, and I. (Calvin is a spice wimp so far, but he's working on it.)

This won't help you at all, but Sunny actually makes a kimchi packet and sells it through a local grocery store chain. (Martins, for all you locals!) So all I did here was peel, seed, and chop the cucumbers, Asian pear, and scallions, and mix it with the packet and a few other basic ingredients then let it sit.

It is De Lish.

#2 : Chop Chae

This is a popular Korean dish made of sweet potato noodles. I bought these at a local Asian market for less than $2. You could also use rice noodles, but these are the authentic chop chae noodles. They don't really taste sweet-potatoey. They have a bit of a more springy texture and they really soak up all the flavor of the sauce.

I'm not gonna lie, I sort of cheater-cheatered this dish, using Dubsie's recipe as the base. I still think it counts as Chop Chae though, on account of the very authentic sweet potato noodles, yes?

I also sauteed chopped Asian cabbage and shredded carrots for a few minutes and stirred them in, along with the scallions. Chop Chae always includes some veggies. 

All my people adore chop chae. Even Robert.

#3 : Bulgogi

My fellow mama-of-a-Korean, Rachel, graciously sent me her recipe. 

1 lb. flank steak thinly sliced (or beef tenderloin, sirloin, etc.) (put beef in the freezer for an hour or so to make slicing easier - thanks for that tip, Rach!)
5 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2-2 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger (optional, but I used it)
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
white sticky rice

To make marinade, combine soy sauce, scallions, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, pepper and sesame seeds. Pour over beef in a baking dish/ziplock and let sit for at least 30 minutes. (I've let this sit overnight, too) Heat some oil in a large skillet and saute garlic. Remove beef from baking dish and grill in skillet until brown around edges, about 30 seconds or so per side.

Serve and enjoy with white sticky rice and/or romaine wraps.

This bulgogi was off the chain.

I've gotta say, it was strangely empowering or gratifying or something to pull this off. The boys were so thankful, Cory was thrilled, Ruby got seconds of everything, and our company asked for the recipe.

I'll be making this meal again and again.

I'm just so grateful that my life turned out this way. I know everyone loves their own situation and thinks it's the best, but I have to say, I just can't imagine my life without these little lovey friends who came to us and love us and give us the gift of their culture and their general awesomeness, every single day.

As I chopped and stirred on Friday afternoon, I just kept feeling so lucky to be right here, with these humans who teach me things and make me laugh every single day.

Of course my life has been made infinitely better because of each of them, but our mash-up of cultures and characteristics is the salsa on the chip, man.


  1. I LOVE Korean food….our small group in seminary was every color of the rainbow, and there was a 2nd generation korean couple in it. They loved to cook korean food for us…and we loved to eat it for them!!!

  2. Sounds and looks yummy! So you just cook the flank steak for 30 seconds on each side and it's done? have some ad or something that is playing in the background when you first come to the site. Maybe you want it?

    1. I mean, NO. I don't want the ad. I don't know about the ad. I've never had anything playing when I'm on here, but maybe it's different for you guys?
      I'm sorry!
      But these ads are helping pay the bills right now, so, you know....

      And yes, it doesn't need to cook long at all! If you like you're meat super well-done, you might need to cook a bit longer. But they're really thin and do cook up quickly!

    2. I came back to your site and there is nothing playing now....maybe I had something else open at the time???? Don't know.....I would be embarrased about that, but I think I will just eat some chocolate instead!!! :-)

    3. Ha!! Sounds like something I would do/have done.
      Pass the chocolate!

  3. Our family has a deep love for all things Korean. My husband lived there as a teenager. And we were stationed there twice (ken is a retired Army Chaplain) We all say yaw Bo seh yo for hello. We have since learned that it is used for saying hello on the telephone. But too late for us to change. Bballi Bballi Chop Chop for hurry. Which is a deeply satisfying way to hustle everyone up. A little old Korean man said it to me once on a bus. I laughed out loud. Bibimbap is our all time

    favorite take out and Bul

  4. Oops quick draw on my publish:)

  5. I don't know if my favorite part of this post is the beef recipe or the line "all the skins will love it". :0)
    Can't wait to try all these new-to-me foods. Kinda makes me think every month of this year I should cook some kind of ethic meal that we have never tried. Thanks for sharing your kitchen goings-on and your beautiful attitude towards life.

  6. I've never tried Korean food but I love days like that where you just feel like you are exactly where God designed you to be.

  7. Very yummy-looking - I love Korean food - it is unique but tasty.

    I meant to ask re your sons - are they the typical Korean story? If so, have you thought of seeing if you can "open up" their adoptions? I've heard of adoptive parents with similar aged chidren who have adopted from Korea being able to do, at least to the extent of exchanging information. Although many Korean bmothers may not want society or their family to know they have had an "out of wedlock" child, it doesn't mean that they don't want to know how their chid is going.

  8. I vaguely remember eating an authentic Korean meal when I was in middle school. Our neighbors were a military guy and his Korean wife, Saja. I don't remember liking it, but I was (still am a little?) a spice wimp like Calvin. ;) Saja taught me to write my name in Korean and always laughed when we said "Oy" when we got hurt. "Why you want cucumber?" she would ask! She also told horror stories of escaping from Korea with her family. I hadn't thought of Saja in years.

  9. I LOVE how you and Rubes have the same eyes... obviously the skin around them looks a little different, but those eyes? definitely Mama/Daughter eyes... swoon!

  10. i have NEVER had korean food!
    i know right?
    after my next surgery...and months go by when i can start sampling real food again i need to try something
    step outside the box!
    however i dislike i cheat and do soy wrappers
    i have found though..when one wants to bad can always find SOMETHING
    from every culture to LOVE to eat..
    and i love to eat
    you were brave to try all of this...way to go!!

  11. make gaeran jim - steamed egg.
    It's basically a fluffy savory egg cooked with chicken broth and it warms you from toes to the top. We boil 1 cup chicken broth in an earthen pot and add mixture of 3 eggs/ 1 extra yolk/ 1 tsp fish sauce/ 1/2 tsp sesame oil stirring slowly for 10 seconds and then pop on the top at medium heat for 4 until cooked through but still jiggly. Top with sliced green onion and eat with a spoon with bap (rice). Favorite comfort food.

    Here's a microwave version that's good too.

  12. There are some really fantastic recipes on her site. I lived in Korea for 6 years (just recently moved back to Cincinnati). I always try her recipes first.

    And cucumber kimchi is a real, normal Korean side dish. :)

  13. Thank you for sharing this! We have two international Korean students living in our home this school year, and I think they (all of us!) would really enjoy this! Will give it a try soon.

  14. God bless Korean food. For-evah.
    I'm impressed with your mad meat slicing skills. Take that, Kroger lady!
    I have a crush on Calvin's hair.
    And your words here.

  15. That looks amazing! Before we moved to the Village we had a neighbor that was 1/2 Korean and 1/2 Irish and she made us amazing Korean food which I had never had before and now I think I'm going to have to try to make it for myself! Good job you!

  16. so proud of your korean food making skillZ! haha and those shrimp chips- YUMSSSS! is it really just a korean thing?? i know it stinks, but i grew up on them so i just love it! wish i could send you and your little asians more korean food!

  17. Dear FPFG,
    I made this meal last night (except for the kimchi) and it was a big hit. I loved that it was a whole meal -- no dithering about sides, it was all there. And you were right: it was off the chain. Thank you.

  18. Sunny did a great job making his own version of kimchi! Anyway, my favorite among those three is the bulgogi. It only has basic ingredients, but the flavor is very strong. Just make sure that the beef is tender, so you can get that great texture, as well as let the flavors seep into the meat. Do you have any recipes beside them? Please share them with us!

    Lynda White @ Vijay India Restaurant