Simplified Gochujang Sauce In A Minute

 Homemade simplified gochujang.

Homemade simplified gochujang.

I was making my Korean inspired dukbokki when I ran out of gochujang; a fermented, sweet, spicy, salty, and pasty Korean red chili sauce.   I wasn't about to let that ruin my dinner.   Throw me that curve ball and let's get that conundrum out of the way.  Comparing the  the back of the ingredients with a bit of research on the internet this simplified version turned out to be a quick fix to my evenings problem.

 This is a minute made sauce opposed to traditional  gochujang  which goes through a long fermentation process.

This is a minute made sauce opposed to traditional gochujang which goes through a long fermentation process.

Homemade gochujang goes through a naturally fermented process over years in an earthenware.  Nowadays most people just buy the pasty sauce in a plastic tub.  Check the ingredients because they vary with each company that produces them.  Most contain MSG and have other preservatives in them but I do see some artisanale gochujang on the market.   If you really want to make traditional gochujang, here's a vid from an adorable Korean lady who shows us the real deal.  Mind you, patience is required for the good stuff at the end, minimum three months!

 

Gochujang Sauce

INGREDIENTS//Yields 2/3 cup (160 ml jar)

• 100 grams white miso paste
• 1/4 cup Korean red pepper powder
• 2 tablespoons mirin
• 1/4 cup honey
• 2 cloves garlic

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine all the ingredients in a small blender or a food processor and whizz it all up.

You should have a paste-like texture. 

Transfer to a jar for storage and seal it with a lid.

 

NOTE

I kept my small batch in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and it was fine.   You can use this sauce to marinate tofu, meats, and fish.  You can use it as a base for noodle soup, seafood and vegetable soups and stews.

Poached Egg With A Dallop of Sorrel Sauce

 Poached egg on a bed of roasted beets and potatoes garnished with honey marinated kumquats.

Poached egg on a bed of roasted beets and potatoes garnished with honey marinated kumquats.

Oseille is French for sorrel.  It's a leafy, green plant that is usually used as an herb, added to accent a salad or cooked down and served along side with a fish.  In a French restaurant, sometimes on the menu we'll see some kind of fish name followed by à l'oseille offered as a main plate.

 Poached eggs with a dallop of sorrel sauce.

Poached eggs with a dallop of sorrel sauce.

Another common recipe using these leaves is the omelette à l'oseille but my imagination took me another direction and I was starting to drool over the idea of piercing a warm poached egg with its yolk oozing over a bed of vegetables along with my kumquats which have been sitting on the side for day.  They weren't sweet enough for the kids to polish off.

With sorrel having such a zingy twist I marinated my kumquat discs in honey and mirin before introducing the two together.   I placed my poached egg on a bed of roasted beets and potatoes with a big dallop of sorrel sauce garnished with plenty of sweet marinated kumquats.  It was a very pleasing combination.    Definitely something I'll be preparing again.

Poached Egg With a Dallop of Sorrel Sauce

INGREDIENTS//Serves 2-3

• 3 free range eggs, poached
• 70 grams sorrel
• 20 grams butter
• 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
• Salt and pepper, adjust accordingly

PREPARATION

Remove the stalk from the sorrel.  You can chop the leaves or just leave them whole. 

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat up a small cast iron pot on medium to high heat and add some butter to it. 

Add the sorrel to the melted butter and cook it until it softens.  It will turn brownish in color.  Turn the heat off and add the crème fraiche.  

Adjust accordingly with salt and pepper.  Transfer the sauce into a small bowl and set it aside.

Poached Eggs

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Crack your egg into a small cup or ramekin.

Once the water is boiled, lower the heat to a simmer.   

Using a spoon, give the water a swirl and gently pour the egg from the cup or ramekin into the center of the pot.

Let it sit for four minutes. 

Use a slotted spoon to lift it out of the water.

Drain as much water out of it as possible and serve.

Add a big dallop of the sorrel sauce on the egg or on the side and serve.


NOTE

Sorrel shrinks down a lot.  70 grams made me a small amount of sorrel sauce that fit in a ramekin.
When poaching eggs, be sure to use the freshest eggs otherwise the whites of the eggs won't form around the yolk as nicely.

 

Presto Pesto with Kale

 Pasta with kale pesto, roasted carrots and zucchinis.

Pasta with kale pesto, roasted carrots and zucchinis.

Presto pesto!  This is one of those things you can whip up in a jiffy and keep for a week in your fridge.   A jar of this green pesto superfood goes quick.  It's great for pasta, pizza, and as a dip.

 Kale pesto

Kale pesto

Kale Pesto

INGREDIENTS//Yields one 500 ml mason jar

• 100 grams kale leaves
• 1 clove garlic
• 80 grams raw almonds or pine nuts
• 90 grams parmesan cheese
• 1 lemon, juiced
• 125 ml olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Add the first four ingredients in a food processor and whiz it all up

Drizzle in the olive oil with the rest of the ingredients.

Once you have a smooth consistency transfer it to a mason jar.

NOTE

This stores in the fridge for up to a week. Just add extra olive oil to cover the surface, cover it, and keep it in the refigerator.

Homemade Kefir Cream Cheese

 1. Start with your cultured kefir milk.

1. Start with your cultured kefir milk.

I can't believe I have just made soft cream cheese.  Crazy thing is that I went back to the land where my kefir grains came from—Thailand!—to learn how to make this soft kefir cream cheese.

 2. Seperate the kefir grains from the kefir.

2. Seperate the kefir grains from the kefir.

Remember in my previous post I had a friend, SIlvia, who brought me these wonderful kefir gems?   She traveled all the way from Bangkok to Paris bestowing me with these lovely gem of grains. 

 3. Ready-made kefir milk.

3. Ready-made kefir milk.

While visiting her in her home in Bangkok recently, one of her neighbor-friends popped up with some homemade cream cheese for us to taste.   She too shares the same family of kefir grains.  I was excited to do the same with my kefir grains.

 4.  Pour the ready-made milk kefir into a cheesecloth lined sieve hanging over a bowl. Tie it up and place it in the fridge overnight.  You will be left with whey, the liquid at the bottom of the bowl.

4.  Pour the ready-made milk kefir into a cheesecloth lined sieve hanging over a bowl. Tie it up and place it in the fridge overnight.  You will be left with whey, the liquid at the bottom of the bowl.

Boy, I didn't realize what my kefir grains were capable of.  Not only have these grains grown and been shared across continents, they are now my supplier for cream cheese. 

 5.  After the whey has seeped out, you will be left with a lump of soft cheese.

5.  After the whey has seeped out, you will be left with a lump of soft cheese.

There was a moment I was drowning in kefir milk.  Now, I can take it one step further and make a cheese that spreads easliy on crackers and bread, and can easily be used as dips.   The possibilities are endless: herb spreads, vegetable spreads, veggie dips, cinnamon and spice cream...yum!  I'll have to try to make a cheesecake with my newfound love too.

 6. Soft cream cheese ready to use as a spread.

6. Soft cream cheese ready to use as a spread.

Homemade Kefir Cream Cheese

PREPARTION

• One cheesecloth or a cotton tight-weave cloth
• 1 plastic sieve
• 1 bowl

INGREDIENTS//Yields one cup

• 4 cups ready-made kefir

INSTRUCTI0NS

Line your sieve with the cheesecloth and hang the sieve over the bowl.

Pour the ready-made kefir into the cloth lined sieve.

Tie up the ends of the cloth and place it in the fridge overnight.

When you untie your cheesecloth on the next day, you will be left with a lovely lump of soft cream cheese.  The liquid left at the bottom of the bowl is whey.  Apparently there are ways to use this whey.  I haven't gotten there yet but when time comes, you'll be sure to know!

NOTE

Homemade kefir cream cheese has more of a sour taste than the store-bought ones.   It's also softer.  I noticed that if I leave the kefir cheese in the fridge longer to strain the whey it hardens up.

What is kaeshi?

 Kaeshi

Kaeshi

This recipe goes hand in hand with my previous posts regarding the dashi stock recipes.  Kaeshi is the essence of Japanese flavoring base to noodles soups and dipping sauce and can easily be used in many other dishes.  My kids eat an entire broccoli head when I cook it in boiling water with a touch of kaeshi.  This can be found in my fridge during the summer months mainly for my cold summer noodle dishes. 

Mix one part kaeshi and dilute it with one part dashi (or more according to your taste) and you'll have yourself a homemade tsuyu sauce without MSG and with a vegetarian option (using the vegetarian dashi recipe). 

Kaeshi (Japanese Noodle Sauce Base)
 

INGREDIENTS//Yields 500 ml

•  2 cups soy sauce or tamari
•  1/2 cup honmirin
•  1/2 cup sugar
 

INSTRUCTIONS

Add the honmirin to the sauce pan and bring it to a boil.  Then turn down the heat to a low simmer to evaporate the alcohol.

Add the sugar and stir it around until melted.

Then add the soy sauce and bring up the heat (do not reach boiling point), stirring from time to time.

Once you see it begin to bubble, turn off the heat and let it cool.

Transfer it into a glass container and store it in the refigerator.

You can make a large batch of this sauce and store it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

 

NOTE

Honmirin ("real mirin") is one of three types of mirin that you can easily find in the Japanese stores.  It is a rice wine much like sake and is used for cooking.  It contains the highest amount of alcohol of the three types.  You can use the other mirins to make kaeshi as well.
 



 

Beetroot Hummus Dip

Living under the influence of a little girl, the color pink has made its way onto my table.  I never thought of my daughter as a pink kind of girl.  She's the kind that jumps into a mud hole and has uncontrollable laughs when she's covered in dirt.  She eats her whole carrot stick with a grip so hard, no one can pry it away from her even if your life depended on it.  She enjoys wrestling her brother to the ground, screaming at the top of her lungs, and coming home with grass stains on each and every possible limb.  This is Mila.  Yet, she also loves to dress in pink and eat anything pink.  Preferably a cloud fluffy full of cotton candy pink.

This is dedicated to my little girl.  A variation to the basic hummus recipe that includes a veggie, the beetroot!  Any extra veg I can get in a day makes me feel good.  I have snuck this one into the hummus dip.  No secret about it, the color itself screams out loud.  It's an eye-popper and attention grabber that's perfect for parties.  I like to have this for breakfast, lunch or a snack on a piece of whole grain bread with slices of avocado and black radish.  So does Mila, but sans radis for now.

Beetroot Hummus Dip

PREPARATION

Soak the dried chickpeas overnight with a cover.  Be sure to add more than enough water to cover the chickpeas because they swell up to almost double their size. 

INGREDIENTS//yields 2.5 cups

• 1 cup dried chickpeas (yields about 3 cups cooked, 1 cup cooked=150 grams)
• 2.5 cloves garlic
• 1.5 teaspoons cumin
• 1.5 teaspoons sea salt (adjust accordingly to personal taste)
• 3.5 tablespoons tahini paste
• 1 small beetroot (boiled until soft), about 70 grams
• 1.5 lemon, juiced
• Olive oil, drizzle

INSTRUCTIONS

Drain and transfer your soaked chickpeas to a large cooking pot.  Fill it up with water with about an inch or two to cover. 

Bring it to a boil and then turn down the heat to a slow simmer for at least two hours.  If you see some white foam during this time, just scoop it out.  Taste check every 10 minutes afterwards to see if is firm enough on the outside and tender on the inside.  Next drain and rinse them under cold water. 

Optional:  I have heard of people peeling skin off of each and every chickpea before adding it into the food processor.  Apparently, the dip comes out smoother.  I don't know.  I never seem to have the time to do this.

Add all your ingredients into the food processor and turn it on.  Use your spatula to swipe along the sides occasionally so that you get every bit of it to blend together for a smooth consistency.  You can add water to the batch if it is too thick. 

Top it off with a generous drizzle of olive oil.

NOTE

I am a garlic fan.  I like my hummus and beetroot hummus with a sharp garlicky taste and a slight citrusy twang to it.  If you want a milder recipe just use 2 cloves of garlic and the sweet flavor of the beetroot will come through.  Add enough water as needed to achieve the consistency you like.  I added nearly a half cup of water to this recipe.