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Monday, August 29, 2011

Kimchi Stew - Perfect for Rainy Days



Kimchi Stew.  The words alone can warm me up and fire up my salivary glands to overdrive.


A Korean lady who owns a grocery taught me this recipe.  It's a good thing I did not quite understand her - I mixed up her versions of Kimchi Soup AND Miso Soup and came up with spectacular results.  When I was telling her what I did, she was shaking her head - apparently I committed some sort of Korean Culinary boo-boo.

I continued making this mistake of adding miso paste to kimchi stew, since I liked the taste. Eventually, I found recipes on the net that make use of this combination, along with other flavorings such as chili powder for added fire, soy sauce, onions, and sesame oil.

I keep mine simple, and you can glean the ingredients from the picture above.

Kimchi, plus some kimchi juice from the jar, chopped to bite size portions
Wakame (dried Japanese seaweed)
Miso paste (about a heaping teaspoon per serving)
Soba noodles
Tofu
Water

That's basically it.  I make it in a Korean cooking vessel which I bought very cheaply.  It needs to be placed on a trivet, since it's quite unstable over my gas range.

Basically boil everything and you're done!  I sometimes break an egg during the last few minutes of simmering the stew.  Another one of my not-much-cooking recipes.

It's amazing how cuisines go together at one point as our lives intersect with that of other cultures.  One thing I learned from an Italian chef is to add a dab of butter after reheating left over spaghetti with sauce - it adds an element of richness and makes everything taste fresh.

I found exactly the same tip in this soup, in this version!  I must try that.

And the post that started my craving for Kimchi Soup - thank you, Shinshine!



Sources:

Lodge Cast Iron Trivet, and other Lodge Cast Iron Pans
     - Living Well, Podium, Ortigas, Manila



Friday, August 19, 2011

Quick Pasta

There are times when I crave for something savory, something fast, and something that does not include a lot of prep work.  Well, this pasta dish is far from being the perfect solution - it calls for leftovers in the fridge.  I usually have a pot of pasta sauce, ready for tossing into noodles when the line-up for dinner is not in keeping with my food preferences.

Tuna cooked in tomato sauce is a favorite.  But after the third reincarnation, it does tend to get a tad bit old.

For this version, I freshened it up a bit with cherry tomatoes and lots of basil.

Heat up olive oil in a pan, drop the cherry tomatoes to soften them, and squash them to release the juice.  Better yet, cut them into two - pressing on them might release a shot of wayward hot tomato sauce.  Add leftover sauce, and a handful of chopped fresh basil.  In the absence of leftover sauce, a packet of Del Monte spaghetti sauce will do in a pinch - the flavors are already balanced and does not need much tweaking.  I also added a generous splash of white wine.

It helps if you have basil ready for harvesting in the garden.  The parent plant has self-sown already, and these are the second generation plants.  

Again, I always have a container of cooked spaghetti noodles - I make sure there are plenty of leftovers, separate from the sauce, so I can make the exact dish that I want for that day, be it plain pesto, Aglio y Olio, or red sauce.

Drop the noodles, cover to heat it all up and blend the flavors - and serve.  Definitely does not taste like leftovers.



*** Note:  No pasta?  no problem.   This is just as good served over hot rice.