When it comes to Korean food, barbecue might be the first thing that comes to mind; but of course, there’s a lot more to it than that! It’s safe to say, though, that all roads lead back to kimchi, widely considered the national dish of Korea. There are more than 200 varieties, but its base ingredient is usually fermented Chinese (“napa”) cabbage leaves; radishes, shrimp, scallions, ginger, garlic, sugar, horseradish, kelp powder, red peppers, or red chili flakes can be added to that. With your meal, also expect rice (also rice wine), noodles (signifying a long and prosperous life), and plenty of spice. This cuisine can best be described as invigorating, adhering to the Korean belief that “food is the best medicine.” Jal meokkesseumnida!
The word “Ssam” means “wrapped.” It usually denotes meat or a filling wrapped in leafy vegetables or greens. You can prepare the Korean BBQ sauce, kimchied salsa, and nuoc cham (for the kimchied salsa) ahead of time.
Combine the brown sugar, water, and soy sauce. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Put the mixture into a blender or food processor with the onion, pears, kiwi, garlic, and ginger. Blend. Add the sesame oil and blend until fully combined.
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; stir until the brown sugar dissolves.
Put cucumbers and onion in a large bowl. Pour the marinade over them, then add sesame oil and Korean chili flakes.
Pour the Korean BBQ sauce into a gallon plastic sealable bag, add the skirt steak and let it marinate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Preheat the grill with the lid closed for 10 minutes, or until it reaches 350 degrees F.
Heat the grill to medium‐hot. Drain the excess marinade. Cook the steak for 3 minutes on each side, then remove it from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice the meat against the grain. I like to serve grilled meats with lettuce cups and herbs. It’s so refreshing and tasty, and the crisp lettuce and herbs help cut the richness of the meat.
To serve, add sliced skirt steak on top of sesame leaf, add kimchied salsa and a little dot of ssamjang.
Eat like a taco.
Japchae is a form of glass noodle made from sweet potato starch. As such, it is gluten-free. It can be eaten at any temperature: cold, room temperature, hot. You can garnish this dish with nori powder.
In a large pot bring water to boil. Boil noodles for 8-10 minutes. Drain and mix with 1 tbsp of sesame oil. Put aside.
Mix all the dressing ingredients in a bowl with a whisk and put aside for later.
Prep all vegetables: julienne carrots and onions; slice scallions in slivers; slice king trumpet mushrooms; mince shallots and garlic. Blanch spinach. Shock in ice water, squeeze out excess water, and chop.
Make a thin omelet with the 2 eggs (do not salt) and slice into ribbons.
In a hot pan, sear the scallops with the butter and put aside.
In a hot wok, add oil and stir fry all vegetables individually to ensure proper caramelization. Season each vegetable with a sprinkle of salt.
To serve, toss vegetables, omelet ribbons, scallops, and noodles with dressing.
You can prepare the ice cream and the apple chips ahead of time. Prepare the apple confit last, as it should be warm when served. When assembling, make sure that the ice cream is cold enough that it won’t melt right away on the warm apple, but tempered enough that you can quickly scoop it.
Spread miso thinly on a silpat. Bake in 350 degree F oven until evenly "burnt." Scrape off silpat and reserve.
Sprinkle an even layer of sugar into a heavy medium-size sauce pan. Add the vanilla bean and heat the sugar until it begins to liquefy around the edges. As the sugar melts, occasionally give it a gentle stir with a wood or heat resistant spatula to prevent it from burning in any one spot.
Once the sugar has begun to darken, it will cook very quickly. When the edges begin to bubble and the amber-colored sugar has begun to smoke, remove from the heat and quickly pour in the heavy cream, stirring to dissolve the caramel. The mixture will steam up considerably when you add the cream and possibly bubble up.
Whisk the half and half and the salt into the caramel cream. Lightly whisk together the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add the caramel cream, whisking constantly as you pour in the hot liquid. The mixture may look slightly curdled now, but it will smooth out later. Puree with burnt miso paste.
Strain the caramel ice cream base into a container and chill thoroughly. Freeze in an ice-cream maker.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (low fan).
Place apple slices on silpats that have been sprayed lightly with pan spray, and sprinkle evenly with sugar.
Bake for about 10 minutes and turn. Bake until evenly golden brown.
Remove from oven and lift apple chips off right away with off-set spatula before the chips cool and get too brittle and break. Cool. Store in airtight and dry container. They should be crispy, not chewy.
Toast pine nuts in 300 degree F oven (low fan) for 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
Fry fresh sage leaves in 300 degree F oil until crispy. Drain on paper towels and salt.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter and clarify with cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and star anise, until golden. Let cool then strain.
Peel apples, trim tops and bottoms off, and cut horizontally in half. Punch out the core with a circular cutter. Submerge in confit butter and bake, covered, at 175 degrees F for 40 minutes or longer, checking every 15 minutes or so, until just tender (a fork can cut through without too much resistance, but apple is not mushy).
This part has to go fast: After warming the apples, drain and blot them with a paper towel. Place at the bottom of a bowl. Scoop a large scoop of burnt miso ice cream. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts to cover. Top with 4-5 pieces of crispy sage. Last, top with enough apple chips to cover (4-5 chips per serving). Serve!
Radishes dipped in butter are a lovely and easy spring appetizer. Add kimchi and some Korean chile paste and flakes to bring this dish to the next level with some spicy, sour zest. The seasoning of the kimchi butter should be to your taste – play with the amount of gochujang and chile flake for more or less spice.
To prepare the radishes, wash thoroughly, but keep the greens attached. Spin or dry on paper towels. Cut the radishes in half, and place on a platter or plate.
Using a mixer or beaters, whip the butter on high until fluffy. Add all the remaining ingredients, and mix on low until combined. Check for seasoning.
Place the butter in a small bowl and serve with the platter of radishes. Garnish butter with chopped kimchi and sesame seeds. You can also place the butter in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe the butter on top of each halved radish. Top each radish with a little bit of kimchi and sesame seeds. Enjoy!